Cape Town - Audi’s flagship SUV has arrived to rival the BMW X6 and Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe and the Ingolstadt newcomer should at least win the novelty war for now, given that its rivals are at the tail end of their life cycles.

But such novelty, and style if you’re into the way it looks, comes at a price - just one model is being offered in South Africa for now in the form of a 3-litre turbopetrol badged 55 TFSI, and it’s priced at R1 388 000. A 3-litre diesel, badged 45 TDI, will become available around midyear, Audi SA tells us.

The V6 petrol that’s available for now is good for 250kW, with 500Nm available from 1370 to 4500 rpm, and against the clock this one is said to be capable of surging from 0-100km/h in 5.9 seconds. The engine is mated to a 48-volt ‘mild hybrid’ electrical system that can reduce consumption by up to 0.7 litres per 100km. A tiptronic gearbox, adaptive suspension damping and quattro all-wheel-drive are also part of the deal, while rear wheel steering can be ordered as an optional extra, as can adaptive air suspension that allows up to 254mm of ground clearance.

As the name implies, the Q8 is perched at the top of Audi’s Q range. Measuring five metres in length and two in width, it’s similar in size to the Q7 - and longer in fact than even the Volvo XC90 - but styling-wise the Q8 gets its groove on with a more muscular, ‘coupe inspired’ design, as well as a new octagonal grille design that will soon be commonplace among the Q range.

The interior resembles that in the new-generation A6 and A7 models, with a digital instrument cluster and two vertically-stacked central touchscreens (upper for infotainment and lower for climate). The screens feature a black panel design that allows them to visually blend into the dashboard when not in use. The Q8 also comes with a modern voice-activated assistant that can respond to prompts like “I am hungry”.

The cabin can be configured in numerous colour and material combinations, with Cedar Brown, Black, Metropolis Grey and Beige Valcona seat upholstery options available for those not content with the standard ‘Cricket Leather’.

Standard features on the Q8 include MMI Navigation Plus, a 23-speaker Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system, four-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable front seats, parking aid plus surround view with 360 degree display, keyless start, cruise control, panoramic glass sunroof, HD Matrix LED headlights and 20-inch alloy wheels.

There’s still plenty of (expensive) fun to be had on the options list, with niceties such as a head-up display that includes lane guidance for navigation, Night Vision Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control and Active Lane Assist.

As for styling packages, South African buyers can choose from three options: S Line Black (featuring high-gloss black exterior elements), S Line Platinum (with platinum grey theme and red brake callipers) and S Line Sports, its various bits and bobs being in matte brushed aluminium.

IOL Motoring