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Audi’s monstrous Q8 is finally here, and they are coming fully loaded

Previewed by the Q8 Concept and Q8 Sport Concept, Audi’s new five-seater coupe-styled-SUV aims to provide stiff competition to the likes of the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe, BMW X6, and Porsche Cayenne when it launches in South Africa in the coming weeks.

The Audi Q8 sits at the very top of Audi’s Q family and makes extensive use of aluminium within it body structure. It is also significantly sportier than its Q7 counterpart, and rides on Volkswagen’s MLB Evo platform, which is already shared with several Audi models, as well as the Lamborghini Urus, Porsche Cayenne, Bentley Bentayga and Volkswagen Touareg. It is also produced at Audi’s Slovakian plant in Bratislava, the same plant where the Q7 is currently being manufactured.

Sporting a bold new octagonal grill with both horizontal and vertical slats as well as frameless doors, muscular wheel arches and a distinctive coupe-like silhouette, the Q8 is claimed to set the stylistic tone of a whole new generation of SUV models from Audi, including the electric e-tron quattro and smaller BMW X4-rivalling Q4 that’s expected to be unveiled later this year.

Along with its bold appearance, the Q8 also brings a number of technical advancements to Audi’s growing SUV line-up, including adaptive HD Matrix LED headlamps and a full width OLED light bar that runs across its rear – as seen on the soon-to-be-launched A7. At a whisker under 5m long, 2m wide and 1.71m tall, the Q8 is wider, shorter and lower than its Q7 sibling – yet larger than the second-generation BMW X6.  And with a wheelbase of nearly 3 metres, Q8 offers a very spacious interior that Audi claims bests both the X6 and GLE Coupe.

As expected, the Q8’s interior is heavily influenced by the new A8, most notably through its adoption of Audi’s new Virtual Cockpit Display digital instruments and a touch screen based digital control system for the major functions. There are two touchscreens integrated into the centre console – a 10.1-inch screen that controls the MMI entertainment and navigation, while the 8.1-inch screen below it controls the climate control and seat ventilation settings. This new layout is expected to also feature in the facelifted Q7 that’s set to debut sometime this year.

Two variants will be made available to South Africa initially – the Q8 45 TDI and the Q8 55 TFSI. Both motors are state-of-the-art and are paired with a mild-hybrid system incorporating a 48-volt primary electrical system with a lithium-ion battery and a belt alternator starter. The diesel-engined 45 TDI uses a 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel supported with mild-hybrid technology to produce 170kw and 500nm, and is capable of a 0-100kph dash in a claimed 7.1 seconds. The petrol-engined 55 TFSI meanwhile uses a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 – also paired with a mild hybrid system – to produce 250kw and 500nm, with power sent to all corners via an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Standard specification on South African models is expected to be high, with everything from Matrix LED headlights, to four-zone air-conditioning, to a Bang & Olufsen sound system, to Audi’s virtual cockpit set to be offered as standard kit. In terms of the oily bits, Quattro all-wheel-drive, a mechanical centre differential to apportion power in a 40:60 split front to rear, and damper control are all standard. Other mechanical bits include the option of all-wheel steering, whereby the rear wheels are capable of turning by as much as five degrees for better agility at low speeds.

While the petrol-powered Q8 55 TFSI is expected to be launch locally in the coming weeks – complete with a price tag of R1 388 000, the Q8 45 TDI is scheduled to be introduced towards the latter part of 2019, with a list price of R1 448 500. There is talk of an X6 M-rivalling RS Q8 as well as a sporty S Q8, but expect those to debut at a later stage.

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