Audi had a lot of metal to show at the 2017 North American International Auto Show, but the Q8 e-tron concept was the debut that stole the spotlight. The coupe-inspired crossover closely previews a production model slated to arrive sometime next year, built on the same modular platform that underpins the Audi Q7.
The automaker says the Audi Q8 concept is a mix of coupe-like styling with a few elements harkening back to the vintage Ur-Quattro as well. For starters, the wide C-pillar is reminiscent of the Ur-Quattro, as is the taillight design with a red light bar that stretches across the rear deck. Up front, the Q8 concept showcases a bold eight-sided grille with each point connecting to lines in the sheetmetal. Audi says the octagon-style grille will be a distinctive feature for Audi crossovers (sedans and coupes will stick with the six-sided grille).
Other standout styling elements include massive 23-inch wheels and headlights, which feature blue accents in an X pattern (Audi hinted this could be an exclusive element for e-tron models). A stack of LED bars at the outer edge of headlights double as accent lighting and an indicator for the battery pack’s state of charge. Audi promises the production version will not veer far from the concept.
With an overall length and width of 198 and 80.4 inches, respectively, the Q8 concept is about 2 inches shorter, but almost 3 inches wider than the three-row Q7. And like the Q7, the Q8 concept will ride on Audi’s modular MLB platform.
Despite its big footprint, the Q8 is more form than function, which means it’ll only have two rows of seating. The show car featured a four-passenger layout, but the automaker says a traditional five-seater option could be available for the production model. Either way, the cargo area is relatively roomy at 22.2 cubic-feet (with the second row seats up).
Inside, the Q8 concept previews the big leap Audi plans to take with in-car technology. The dashboard and center console are packed with multiple touch screens, including one dedicated to climate controls and another for the MMI infotainment system. The concept also gets Audi’s Virtual Cockpit instrument panel, along with a fancy head-up display with the capability of showing augmented reality-based info (navigation prompts, for example, appear on the road ahead). Audi says the upcoming next-gen A8 sedan will be the first to debut the automaker’s new in-car tech (expect the latest in autonomous driving capabilities as well).
The Q8 e-tron concept’s plug-in hybrid powertrain includes a 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 rated at 329 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, and an electric motor putting out 134 hp and 243 lb-ft. Audi claims the Q8 concept will run from 0-62 mph in 5.4 seconds and continue to a top speed of 155 mph. A 17.9-kWh lithium-ion battery pack provides enough juice for about 37 miles of all-electric range. There will undoubtedly be a sporty S model and we expect a non-hybrid powertrain too, perhaps one featuring the 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6.
With stunning styling and fancy tech, the Q8 could be Audi’s most significant model launch in 2018. It’ll be targeted at other style-heavy crossovers, specifically the BMW X6 and the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe.