Q8 SUV a design leader for Audi
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To me, the new luxury SUV from Audi, the Q8, is quite a handsome beast.
At first view there are many design features that recall the greatest car to wear the four-ring brand, the Ur-Quattro of 1980. The most obvious of these is the angular plane of the rearmost window pillar, which is just like the quintessential Quattro’s.
When I first clocked this, it triggered memories of the growling turbocharged five-cylinder Audis charging through Scandinavian forests during successful World Rally Championship campaigns some four decades ago, driven by wild-eyed drivers such as Rohrl, Mikkola, and Mouton. Those historic Group B rally cars set Audi on its present four-wheel drive, premium-brand course and marked the point where it ceased competing with Opel in the German car industry and lifted its game to match Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
It’s fitting that they direct a new look for Audi, as debuted by the Q8.
More connections to the iconic original-quattro can be found in the black panel and the connected lights at the rear of the SUV.
Up front, the Q8 debuts a new fascia that’ll be spread across the rest of the Audi range as models, like the new Q3 compact-SUV, A6 saloon, and the brand’s burgeoning number of electric cars, arrive in 2019.
If I was once worried Audi had backed itself into a design corner when the TT sports-coupe seemed to be the design blueprint for the entire range, I’m not now. Via the roots-led design theme of the Q8, the ancestral Ur-Quattro has come to the rescue.
The new Q8 presents buyers of large luxury SUVs with a five-seat alternative to the existing Q7 seven-seater. Although exhibiting sexier design inside and out, and having the front and rear wheels stretched 20mm further apart to make the second-row seats some of the most spacious in the segment, the Q8 isn’t expected to outsell the more family-oriented Q7 despite luxury SUV buyers showing a strong preference for five-seaters. Audi NZ general manager, Dean Sheed, says it’ll need more Q8 model variants to arrive before sales approach those of the Q7.
Due to arrive next year are uber-Q8 models like the diesel-powered SQ8, which will be pumped with extra turbo boost, and the twin-turbo petrol V8-motivated RSQ8, which will present an Audi-badged alternative to technology-sharing uber-SUV models like the Lamborghini Urus and Porsche Cayenne GTS.
When those super-Q8s arrive, Sheed still expects the Q7 to capture as many customers as the now-complete Q8 line-up.
Meanwhile, it’s up to the base 3-litre V6 TDI model to lead the Q8 charge for now. At $149,900 ($157,900 with all the S-Line trimmings), it’s quite a step up from the $131,400 Q7 model that shares the same 210kW/600Nm eight-speed powertrain. But the Q8 gets some highly desirable extras as standard equipment, like adaptive air suspension and all-wheel-steering. You need to add a further $9000 for these options to the above price of the Q7 to be able to accurately assess the worth of the two large Audi SUVs.
It seems the extra style of the Q8, along with its pruning of two extra seats, commands a $9500 premium over the Q7. But think how impressed the neighbours will be by the ability of the Q8 to accommodate massive 22-inch alloy wheels (a $4000+ option above the 20-inch standard hoops), and provide the same new trick MMI Touch infotainment/comfort interface as the equally well-furnished A8 super-saloon.
What’s not to like?