Ingolstadt - Audi has unleashed the ‘S’ version of its Q8 flagship crossover and it’s powered by Europe’s most powerful diesel engine.

Due to hit South African streets in early 2020, the SQ8 TDI has a 4-litre twin-turbo V8 diesel that produces 320Nm and 900Nm of torque, the latter available from just 1250rpm.

The result is genuine sports car performance, the SQ8 sprinting from 0-100km/h in just 4.8 seconds, according to claims, while the top speed is electronically limited to 250km/h.

The SQ8 features Audi’s 48-volt mild hybrid system, which not only reduces consumption by up to 0.5 litres per 100km, but also powers an electric compressor, which helps get the car off the mark lag-free.

Power goes to all four wheels through an eight speed Tiptronic autobox and quattro permanent all-wheel-drive, and the vehicle is also fitted with sport-tuned adaptive air suspension and Audi drive select.

Buyers seeking even sharper handling can opt for all-wheel-steering as well as an active sport differential and an electromechanical active roll stabilisation system.

The latter uses a small electric motor mounted between the two halves of the stabiliser on each axle. When driving in a straight line, the two halves act independently, thereby reducing the sprung mass vibrations on uneven surfaces, while during hard cornering they work together, while turned in opposite directions. This is said to significantly reduce the roll angle while cornering.

The SQ8 TDI is fitted with 21-inch alloy wheels, but customers can opt for 22-inch units. It’s also set apart by an S-specific design package, which includes matt silver trim for the grille surround and underbody elements. LED headlights with high-beam assist are standard but you will have to delve into the options list for Audi’s HD matrix units.

The S flavour continues inside with embossed sports seats, but the rally-style ‘plus’ sports seats with integrated headrests are an option, and they can be equipped with massage and climate control functions. Matching the exterior colour scheme, the cabin inlays are made from matt brushed aluminium, but buyers can opt for carbon or oak trim instead.

As for electronics, the SQ8’s ‘virtual cockpit’ digital instrument cluster has S-specific view options with red graphics.

The command centre is Audi’s flagship MMI system with two vertically stacked screens, and the system now features Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant.

IOL Motoring