Following the Q8 Concept of late 2016 and a recent mini-series of videos titled #Q8unleashed, the all-new 2019 Audi Q8 made its anticipated global debut yesterday at the Audi Brand Summit in Shenzhen, China.
It’s another one of those coupe-style SUVs from Germany, and it offers seating for five, advanced connectivity, infotainment and driver assistance systems, as well as the promise of exceptional ride and handling.
Sharp new design
As the brand’s new flagship SUV, the Audi Q8 boasts incredible presence. It is wider, shorter and lower than the seven-passenger Q7, but thanks to a wheelbase of nearly three metres, the cabin is said to beat direct competitors in most relevant dimensions, including interior length and headroom. The rear seats can be adjusted fore and aft, while the luggage compartment under the power rear hatch holds up to 1,755 litres (with the seatbacks folded).
Aesthetically, the Q8 introduces Audi’s new SUV design language for both exterior and interior features. Together, the octagonal Singleframe grille and large, highly contoured air inlets give the vehicle quite a bit of character. Same thing for the sloping roofline that ends in gently inclined D-pillars, while the pronounced wheel arches (for wheels up to 22 inches in size) and the black surface underlining the light strip between the taillights pay tribute to the Q8’s quattro DNA.
Inside the 2019 Audi Q8, the all-new 10.1-inch MMI touch response display takes centre stage. With its black-panel look, it dissolves into a large, black inlay when switched off, creating a clean interior environment. In the dark, the optional contour light traces the design lines of the interior and provides backlight for the three-dimensionally lasered quattro badge above the glove compartment. The instruments are obviously shown in the fully digital 12.3-inch Audi virtual cockpit, which can be switched between two views via the multifunction steering wheel.
Back to the MMI unit for a moment: It features haptic and acoustic feedback and users will find it as intuitive as a smartphone, Audi says. Indeed, you’ll hear and feel a click when your finger triggers a function. Additionally, with its logical and flat menu structure, the system allows fast access to various vehicle functions. It can be personalized using configurable and movable “favorites” buttons. Intelligent, natural-language control is also part of the experience, so if you say “I'm hungry” the Q8 will suggest nearby restaurants.
Other notable features inside the Audi Q8 include wireless charging for compatible smartphone devices and the optional Bang & Olufsen 3D Advanced Sound System.
What about performance?
On the road, expect world-class dynamics courtesy of standard quattro all-wheel drive featuring a purely mechanical centre differential that transfers power to the front and rear axle at a normal ratio of 40:60. When required, the majority of the power can be sent to the axle with better traction. Available all-wheel steering will enhance cornering performance.
An adaptive damping suspension comes standard, while the optional adaptive air suspension enables the various suspension and damping combinations that make up the Audi drive select modes, so you should cover ground comfortably and confidently even off-road. Speaking of which, there’s up to 25 centimetres (10 inches) of ground clearance and hill descent control to back you up.
At this point, we don’t know whether the 2.0 TFSI four-cylinder or 3.0 TFSI V6 engine (or both) will reside under the hood. What’s certain, however, is that a new mild hybrid technology (using a lithium-ion battery and a belt alternator starter) will help recover power and feed it back into the battery. Interestingly, the start-stop range begins at 22 km/h.