After being criticised for the design similarity of its different ranges, Audi's looked to its Ur-quattro past to inspire the in-your-face styling of its latest concept car.

Unvelied at this week's Detroit motor show, the near production-ready Q8 will take on the BMW X6 and Mercedes GLE Coupé in the coupé-SUV league when it hits the market in 2018.

Like its rivals, the Q8 combines the roominess of a full-size SUV with the emotional styling of a coupé. At the same time the concept offers a preview of the brand's future styling direction, and let's hope the show car's bold lines don't get dumbed-down into a more benign-looking design when production starts.

The big SUV, which is about the same size as the Q7 it shares a platform with, boasts one of the most aggressive front ends yet seen on a car bearing the four rings. The octagonal singleframe grille (not hexagonal like other Audis) is considerably wider than the brand's current production models and is positioned well forward with three-dimensional sculpting.

Many styling elements are reminiscent of Audi’s original Ur-quattro from the 1980s, including the very flat and wide C pillars and the powerfully flared shoulders over the wheels.

Despite the flat roofline, the show car offers plenty of room for four people as well as lots of luggage.

The elegantly sporty interior combines large touchscreens with an Audi virtual cockpit, along with a new augmented reality head-up display that merges virtual indicators with the real world (for example, in the driver's field of view a navigation arrow will appear in the same position as an actual arrow on the street).

The concept is a plug-in hybrid with total outputs of 330kW and 700Nm from its petrol-electric powertrain, which is good for a claimed 5.4 second 0-100km/h sprint. The grunt is delivered via quattro permanent all-wheel drive, it glides along on air suspension, and ceramic brake discs provide the stopping power.