Audi has a rather special new car waiting in the wings ready for its launch. The 2019 Audi Q8 will field directly against the BMW X6 and Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe.
The Audi Q8 has been under development for quite some time now. It is not just another redesign exercise on Audi’s existing lineup of SUVs, but a new vehicle altogether. That does not imply a radical new design. The new SUV features Audi’s signature ‘Q’ design philosophy with a bold, edgier vertical grille flanked by all-LED headlamps and huge air dams. Chrome is liberally splashed on the front fascia to good effect. The profile is quite coupe like, with all-LED taillamps rounding out the rear beautifully. The twin slash-cut boxy exhaust pipes belie the potent engine that powers the Q8.
However, the powertrain is not the Q8’s party trick. It features mild hybrid technology that Audi calls MHEV. There is a 48-volt primary electrical system that recovers up to 12kW power and 60Nm torque when braking. The regenerative energy is fed back to the battery. The real show-stopper is the coasting ability that MHEV imparts the Q8. Above speeds of 22kph, all the recovered energy is put to use and the car starts coasting silently with its engine deactivated. Between 55 and 160kph if the driver lets off the throttle pedal, the Audi Q8 can cruise with its engine off for up to 40 seconds. Once the driver presses the throttle pedal again, the engine turns on seamlessly.
This interchange between internal combustion and regenerative energy ensures the SUV returns an impressive fuel economy although it is still modest. Audi claims a minimum saving of 0.7 liters per 100 km.
Most importantly, let us not forget that “Audi is Quattro; Quattro is Audi”. True to its heritage, the Audi Q8 gets short overhangs, a ground clearance of 254mm and a mechanical central differential that splits output to 40:60 between the front and rear wheels. Couple all of the above with Audi’s advanced Singleframe aluminum chassis and you have got yourself a pretty capable offroader.
The 2019 Audi Q8 offers MHEV tech as part of Volkswagen Group’s Roadmap E, the German giant’s electrification plan. MHEV tech is standard across all Q8 models and is already being offered on cars like the A8L and the SQ7 TDI.