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Audi's new Q8 Concept foretells X6 fighter

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Geneva Motor Show – Don't get too excited, it’s still a concept. The Audi Q8 Sport standing tall on Audi’s stand at the Geneva Motor Show is an evolution of another concept that was revealed in January, and it’s a lot closer to what a series production version of the Q8 might be, but … it’s still a concept.

The new SUV’s alphanumerical name might lead you to believe this vehicle sits a notch above the existing Q7 in size, but don’t be fooled. This is a smaller machine intended to rival high-riding fastbacks such as Beemer’s X6 and Merc’s GLE Coupe. And rival it will, especially if the concept’s completely bonkers drivetrain ever sees the light of day.

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Under that blazing orange bonnet is a 3-litre triple-turbo V6 just like the one in Audi’s SQ7, where the two conventional compressors are ingeniously assisted by an electric fan. Basically, this means any form of turbo lag is eliminated, because the spooling process is short-cutted by permanently spinning impellers. This petrol engine is good for an impressive 330kW and 530Nm alone, but hey, why stop there?

For the Q8 Sport Concept Audi has added a ‘mild’ electric hybrid drive system which throws another 20kW and 170Nm into the mix. Total outputs are pegged at 350kW and 700Nm, which is laid down to all four 23-inch tyres through permanent quattro all-wheel drive. With all systems go, the Q8 can bolt from 0-100km/h in a claimed 4.7 seconds (the same as the latest S5 coupe) and on to a max speed of 275km/h.

But it’s not only about breakneck performance. An 0.9kWh battery positioned under the boot floor not only assists with flat-out acceleration, but also offers a completely petrol-free creep mode in slow stop-start traffic. The battery is recharged via a generator sandwiched between the engine and gearbox. Interestingly, Audi doesn’t quote an average fuel consumption, but says that in ideal situations (read very light-footed) the Q8 Sport can cover more than 1200km on a single 85 litre top up.

Gearbox duty is, as expected, handled by way of an eight-speed auto gearbox and a plush ride is ensured thanks to air suspension which can raise or lower the body in five 90mm increments. Behind those insane, and at this point fictitious, 23” alloys is a set of carbon ceramic brakes measuring 20” on their own.

Audi has, for the first time, used touchscreen technology in the Q8 – a move that signals a likely turn in infotainment system setups in future road-going models. There’s also an obligatory Virtual Cockpit instrument cluster in use, but here it gets some added functionality and a higher 1920x720 resolution TFT display. The Q8 also takes heads-up display tech to the next level by including augmented reality in its windscreen projections. This feature can now superimpose navigation arrows directly onto the road in front of you, as if they were actually painted on the tarmac.

But just how much of this stuff is actually headed our way? We’ll put money on a production Q8, though likely toned down in the styling department, and including a range of less powerful drivetrains similar to what’s available in the Q7. The next-generation A8 sedan will likely introduce Audi’s new touchscreen infotainment layout, and could possibly see an adaptation of the Q8 Sport Concept’s mild hybrid drive system in its most expensive forms. But as for 23” alloys… forget it.

IOL Motoring

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