Plug-in Electric Drivetrain Makes It Unique in the Class
Eager to jump into a segment currently dominated by BMW and Mercedes-Benz, Audi revealed its new Q8 concept at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show. Unlike its luxury coupe-crossover rivals, the Q8 differentiates itself by adding a performance hybrid twist.
Under its Bombay Blue hood, the Q8 boasts a 333-horsepower (hp) turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 and a 134-hp electric motor integrated within the crossover’s eight-speed automatic transmission. Together, the hybrid powertrain makes a total of approximately 443 hp and 516 pound-feet of torque; enough power to push the Q8 from zero to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds and on to a governed top speed of 155 mph.
Drivers looking to run around town on electric power only will be glad to hear a rear-mounted lithium-ion battery pack gives the Q8 37 miles of all-electric driving range. It can be charged in approximately two and a half hours when plugged into a 240-volt, 30-amp outlet.
Despite its sleeker coupe body, the Q8 is essentially a Q7 underneath and differs in wheelbase, length, width and height by only a couple of inches. Unfortunately, the Q8 lacks the rear headroom, third row and cargo space of its sibling, and at 22 cubic feet, the Q8 has 16 cubic feet less than the Q7 affords behind its second row.
An Interior Without Knobs
In a continuing attempt to banish knobs from the world of automotive interiors, the Q8’s interior boasts a myriad of touch screens, which Audi says is a preview of the new infotainment system in the upcoming A8. Despite the high-tech interior, Audi refrained from integrating any self-driving technology into its concept Q8. However, the production car will likely be available with such features.
The exterior of the car features Audi’s new front grille, which will soon show up on other SUVs in the range. At the rear of the vehicle, the Q8 features full-width LED tail lights. Those terminate on either end into an integrated rear vent—a tribute to the race car design from 1989.
Much like its competitors—the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe and GLE Coupe, and BMW X6—the Q8 answers a question that nobody asked. That being said, it is interesting because of its hybrid powertrain, which is something the GLC, GLE and X6 do not offer.
Only time will tell if the Q8 does well in the American market, but if it does, hopefully it will inspire Mercedes-Benz and BMW to offer their luxury coupe-crossovers with a more efficient hybrid powertrain as well.