Now that Volkswagen has given America an honest seven-seater SUV named Atlas, Audi is ready to replace the Q7 as its flagship with the SUV equivalent of an A8. In fact, VW's premium brand goes as far as saying that the upcoming Q8 is so sporty that "many of its design elements are reminiscent of the Audi Ur-quattro of the 1980s." Huge words for an equally big car.
The show car goes to Detroit to demonstrate how the production Q8 will offer "a spacious interior with four equally comfortable seats, even with the flat roof line." Audi's octagonal grill is now wider than ever, positioned well forward. The C-pillar is extremely flat but also very wide, accompanied by flared shoulders above the wheels. Think BMW X6M, but with better looks and more space inside. In other words, the Q8 is set to be your budget Bentley Bentayga.
If they go as far as building a RS version down the line, this SUV built around the Audi-developed MLB Evo platform will pack the new twin-turbo V8 designed by Porsche but linked to a ZF gearbox. That's fitting, since the Q8 will be a direct competitor to the next-generation Cayenne. The current SQ7's 4.0 TDI and electric turbocharger combination should also make it into the Q8 following Bentley's lead, while the plug-in hybrid version is expected to use a V6 TDI that can be shut down for roughly 30 miles of pure electric driving.
Last year, rumor had it that Audi would also built a fully electric Q8, but that remains to be seen after the R8 e-tron got discontinued due to a lack of sales. What's for sure is that Audi's all-electric executive car, the A9, is coming in 2020, and EV sales need to represent 15 percent of the the brand's sales by 2025. A Q8 e-tron in 2021? We can't see why not.