Reporting for Flagship Duty: Audi Unveils Q8 ‘Four-door Luxury Coupé’

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Audi finally revealed its latest entry in the increasingly popular luxury SUV segment: the Q8. Think of it as a more contemporary take on the Q7. The automaker calls it an expressive new design that serves as “the new face of the Q family.” While we’re all for German manufacturers occasionally drawing outside of the lines, we’re not positive it was a good idea in this case.

No shortage of hype preceded the debut, which tricked many into thinking the vehicle behind the curtain would reveal itself as irrefutably gorgeous. Instead, what we received is an interesting looking crossover that’s certain to be (at least somewhat) polarizing, heralded by dozens of teasers — including an internet-based video drama.

Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t bring myself to continue discussing the turd sandwich that was Audi’s promotional miniseries for the Q8. It was only ever going to progress into more and more hateful rants. However, I now fully recommend you watch the series in its entirety, as the ending was dumb enough to prompt a violent laughing fit.

Getting back Audi’s fresh new crossover, which it calls a “four-door luxury coupé,” we’re pretty sure it’ll garner greater appeal in colors that aren’t orange. Some people will probably still hate it, but that could just be a statement on the squashed-SUV segment it’s trying to adhere to. Wider and lower than the Q7 by about an inch, and shorter by 3 inches, the Q8 is a much sportier design. This should partially excuse the added funkiness, but that really only applies to this particular model.

If Audi attempts to import the enlarged matte chrome “Singleframe” grille and honeycomb air inlets across the board, we could have a problem. It’s not that this design isn’t fun, it’s just a little inelegant. It’s too reminiscent of a mainstream CUV that’s trying to be edgy and doesn’t convey a premium aesthetic — at last not from the front.

The rest of the car is much sexier. There are a lot of straight lines mixed with savory curves and that Quattro-inspired black surround for the taillights works nicely. The interior is similarly phenomenal.

Similar in appearance to the A8’s cabin, the Q8’s additional accenting boosts personality without going overboard. While there are a few buttons, two touchscreens handle all of the crossover’s important functions. The 10.1-inch upper display is responsible for Audi’s MMI Navigation Plus and infotainment, while the lower 8.6-inch unit tackles interior temperature and seating comfort.

Speaking of which, you can option in massage seats, four-zone climate control and a Bang & Olfusen sound system. However, the base model should still be exceptionally comfortable for four occupants, with room enough for five. Audi says cargo room with the back seats folded is 62 cubic feet but, since it’s a little shorter than the Q7, overall storage space in the back certainly won’t be as good.

Advanced technologies include Audi Connect Key, which lets Android users unlock and drive their Q8 with their smartphone, as well as a Wi-Fi hotspot, 360-degree cameras and the kind of active safety systems you’d expect to see on the new pinnacle of a luxury automaker’s SUV range.

Not all of these goodies are guaranteed to make it to America. Audi has already said that Traffic Jam Pilot probably won’t come to the United States right away, so we don’t know if the vehicle’s autonomous parking function sees a similar axe.

Other unknowns include the Q8’s powertrain options. Since it’s based on the Q7, we’d expect to see a lot of the same engines, but Audi is committing to nothing beyond the promise of standard all-wheel drive and a 48-volt mild-hybrid system. The manufacturer says the system adds instant torque and the ability to coast with its engine off for short distances. It also allows the Q8’s stop-start function to activate earlier, saving you some fuel. While interesting, these technologies already exist on several of the company’s models already.

Expect more details closer to the vehicle’s launch date in 2019.

[Images: Audi]