Competes with: Mercedes-Benz GLE coupe; BMW X6; the hearts and minds of people who still believe station wagons are good
Looks like: A mashup of Audi's A4 Allroad and a Toyota Venza, but ... somehow ... attractive?
Drivetrain: Specifically: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯; unspecifically: light-hybrid engine technology, an automatic transmission and all-wheel drive
Hits dealerships: Fall 2018 in Europe; TBD in North America
We finally have the first details of the production version of Audi's Q8 SUV coupe, set for sale in Europe in the coming months and almost certainly in the U.S. soon after. Sidenote: Automakers, please stop calling everything a coupe just because its roof slopes a little; it's wrong and you're upsetting Michael Jordan.
Related: Groovy! Audi Offers Black-Light Tease for New Q8 SUV Coupe
The Q8 is a bit less wild than the concept we saw in Detroit but remains true to its spirit. The Bane's mask grille is still present, but the front bumper slopes downward into a sort of faux skid plate. Audi is calling this the new face of its Q line of SUVs, so expect to see the grille on the Q7, Q5 and Q3 as those models get refreshed or redesigned.
There are two large openings ahead of the front wheels, but it looks like most of those openings are occupied by plastic pieces to give the appearance of functionality. The actual air vents are small vertical slits. The roofline slopes downward toward the rear less aggressively than the Q8 concept or its two German competitors, the Mercedes-Benz GLE and BMW X6. Along the sides are sculpted fender flares front and rear, and a chrome character strip that runs between the up-to-22-inch-diameter wheels.
LED headlights are standard; European models will be available with Audi's high-tech HD Matrix LED headlights — those aren't welcome in the U.S. because of our slow-to-evolve laws governing vehicle lighting. The rear lighting features Audi's taillights with sequential turn signals; the taillights are connected across the rear liftgate by a strip of lights.
The two-row interior seats five and, according to Audi, "there is a three-seat system in the rear with longitudinally adjusting upon request." According to my German-to-bad-English translator, that means the rear seats can recline. Options include massaging and ventilated seats, four-zone automatic climate control and a system to add fragrances to the air coming out of the air vents. The knob-based interface and physical buttons for multimedia, navigation and climate control are all replaced by two touchscreens, as we've seen in the upcoming 2019 Audi A8.
The navigation system is capable of learning route preferences and adapting over time. Additionally, Audi Connect online services will update routes in real time using data from other Audis by tapping into the "swarm intelligence" of those Audis with traffic sign and hazard recognition.
Under the Hood
Audi mentions light-hybrid technology across the Q8 lineup but hasn't specified anything beyond that for the production version. The concept used a plug-in hybrid powerplant making a combined output of 449 horsepower and 516 pounds-feet of torque.
Besides the cool HD Matrix LED headlights that won't come to the U.S., the Q8 will be loaded with safety tech and semi-autonomous features including adaptive cruise control, parking assist, blind spot warnings and a 360-degree camera system. In 2019, Audi plans to add remote garage pilot and remote parking pilot systems that allow the car to enter and exit a garage or parking spot autonomously with the driver outside the vehicle.
Audi hasn't revealed when the Q8 might arrive on our shores, but it should follow closely behind the SUV's third-quarter European release. We'll report on new info as it becomes available, so check back in with us.
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