Audi has given the thumbs-up to the new Q8 range-topper, CAR understands. It's a high-end SUV crossover to crown the brand's burgeoning range of planned, sportier 4x4s and tackle the likes of the new Range Rover.
The Audi Q8 will be based on the long-wheebase edition of the next MLB architecture. Baffled by acronyms? Basically, the Q8 will ride on the hardware developed for the next-gen Audi Q7/Porsche Cayenne/VW Touareg. Our artist's impression depicts how it could look.
Manufacturers – and especially those in the Volkswagen fold – are increasingly developing multiple wheelbases to spin off more flexible variants. Just look at Land Rover: its new Range Rover will come in two lengths, as it aims for the luxo-spacious needs of emerging markets such as China.
Audi Q8: the lowdown
Marketing bods in Ingolstadt are so excited by the prospect of a coupe-like crossover at the top of its range that they've already proceeded to customer clinic surveys. It sailed through - and our sources suggest that they're feeling confident enough to raise the Q8's annual production volume forecast to 25,000 units.
Think of the Q8 as the crossover equivalent of the A8: Audi is planning multiple versions of its limo in future, and is mulling over a regular SWB A8, a LWB A8 and, maybe, a four-seater A9 coupe as well – all competing with the taller, high-riding Q8.
The existing range of Audi Q models use odd numbers, denoting 'regular' SUV shapes: Q3, Q5 and Q7 are boxy, upright 4x4s. Now it's preparing a range of even-numbered additions, from Q2, Q4, Q6 and – here – the Q8. They're coupe-inspired, lower, sportier. Yep, the Evoque has a lot to answer for…
Powering the new Q8
The new Audi Q8 will be an aluminium-intensive structure, designed to shave kilos off the existing crop of luxury SUVs. Our sources suggest it'll be 300kg lighter than today's lardy Q7.
CAR understands the Q8 will be powered by a range of V6 and V8 petrols and diesels, bolstered by a range of plug-in hybrids and a a 550bhp RS version.
The Q8 is some way off: it's at the advanced planning phase and we're unlikely to see it on sale before 2017.
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