The Q8 e-Tron Concept proves that Audi can think outside of the box

Audi seems to think it can create a new niche in the full-sized vehicle segment by introducing a vehicle with SUV proportions inside, and almost coupe-like proportions outside. We first heard of the Q8 name way back in 2012 when Audi filed a trademark for it, along with other names like R6, S2, S9, and RS1, among others. Since then, the name has been associated with Audi’s dreams of electric architecture and has even been said to be arriving in 2019 – even here in the United States. More recently, however, around July of 2016, we laid eyes on a weird coupe-ish SUV prototype that just had to be the Audi Q8. Finally, at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show, Audi pulled the sheets off of the Audi Q8 e-Tron Concept, a model that previews the production Q8 and comes complete with a bold exterior design that previews the evolution of Audi’s design language, high-tech door poppers, and an interior that is near-production ready. As an e-Tron, it is hybrid in nature and provides a respectable output of 330 kW (442.53 horsepower) and more than 500 pound-feet of torque.

Prior to its debut alongside the new Audi S5 Cabriolet and SQ5 production models, very little was known about the Q8 e-Tron Concept, but not that Audi has spilled the beans, we have quite a bit to talk about. Dietmar Voggenreiter – a member of the Board of Management for Sales and Marketing at Audi AG – said, “The Q8 concept is an Audi in peak form. It demonstrates the strengths of our brand in both technology and design while providing a glimpse at a future full-size, production SUV. With its next-generation display and control solutions, we are enabling customers to experience connectivity in a whole new way.”

We still have some time before we get to see the production-ready Q8 in the metal, but this Concept gives us a good idea of what to expect. Of course, not all of the features and technology will carry over into production, so let’s dive on into this concept, see how it differs from the production prototype, and look at all the finer details.

Continue reading to learn more about the Audi Q8 E-tron Concept.

Concept vs Production Prototype

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2019 Audi Q8 Exterior Spyshots
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2019 Audi Q8 Exterior Spyshots
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Comparing the Q8 Concept (left) to the Q8 prototype (right) is pleasantly confusing, leaving one to wonder just how much of the concept’s design cues will actually make it to the production car. As is the usual case, the production model will probably be toned down, which is what we’re seeing in the prototype right now. Then again, that prototype is rocking a Q7 body, so there’s some real hope for the concept’s design cues making it into production. Comparing the two as they are right now, the differences between the two are clear. The Concept features a wider and more prominent grille this is octagonal compared to the traditional hexagonal Audi grille seen on the prototype. Extra trim elements that surround the corner air intakes and provide a secondary lip below give the concept’s front fascia a menacing look, and will hopefully carry over to the concept. The production model was last spotted without any trim elements below, so it’s entirely possible. Along the sides, you’ll notice a similar body structure, but the on-road prototype actually featured more aggressive fender flaring and a much larger section of glass behind the rear door. Hopefully, the concept’s mirrors and large, sexy wheels make it to the production model.

The production model will probably be toned down, which is what we’re seeing in the prototype right now.

Around back, the on-road prototype is all Q7 design while the concept gets a unique LED setup that’s both stylish and futuristic. While the LED lights from the concept aren’t likely to make it to the production model, it’s possible that the may, at least in some form, so here’s to hoping that happens. I could see the stylish rear fascia insert carrying over, but Audi would have to adjust the exhaust a bit to accommodate a higher exhaust position. The important thing to note here is that the most recent shots we have of the Q8 prototype actually show a Q7 body on top, so take the design cues shows on that model with a grain of salt – we may see more of the Q8 Concept in the production model than the most recent spy shots lead us to believe.

Conceptual Exterior Elegance

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The Q8 e-Tron Concept is just as elegant as it is beautiful. The front end offers a deep, 3D look with large openings that almost look like endless pits in the right light. The grille is massive, covering about 75 percent of the nose and featuring a square louver pattern with fine mesh hidden behind. The grille surround leads the way into the unique LED headlights that also have a small vent down below that adds to the look of depth that defines the Q8’s front end. A large and recessed vent sits in each corner that features a carbon fiber trim element to the inside and a silver trim insert on the outside and upper edge. This trim element joins with the lower trim element on the fascia that provides a second lip down below, sports the “e-Tron” logo in the center, and ultimately creates a thin but wide air dam. It’s a very attractive front end that will hopefully carry over to the production model largely unaltered.

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The Q8 e-Tron Concept is just as elegant as it is beautiful.

Moving over to the side profile and you’re instantly reminded that the Q8 e-Tron Concept is sporting a coupe-ish body as opposed to the traditional tall SUV body framing. It’s an unusual style but works in a weird way for the concept, leading one to believe that the Q8 production model could be widely successful. The most prominent features of the side profile include the low-slung but wide side view mirrors, shaved door handles, and mildly distinct body lines. The latter of which provide a muscular appearance on the rear quarters and a little extra character around the wheel wells and above the side skirt trim. The sloping roof provides an angular rear end that includes slanted rear quarter glass that is tall but thin and is emphasized by thick chrome trim. Finally, there’s a silver trim element down below that sports the “Quattro” logo and sits between those wild 10-spoke wheels that hopefully make it onto the production model.

The rear end of the concept showcases design cues that Audi should have been using on its SUV models since at least 2010, but have yet to do so. The rear hatch is thin compared to models like the Audi Q7 and features a steep grade above the waistline with a sizable and attractive overhang up top. Down below the waistline, the sharpest bodyline from the side profile wraps around and traverses across the entire rear hatch, creating a lip of sorts and serving as the drop-off point where the hatch goes vertical. The big news here is that gorgeous taillight design that makes use of LED strips and ties both corners together via the rear hatch. The also provide for a weird, LED reverse light setup that is recessed into the far edges of each rear quarter. A carbon fiber inlay sits below the taillight assembly and serves as the home for the rear Audi logo. Finally, a silver-colored diffuser element sits down below with a chrome trim element that provides character for the two rear vents that may serve as exhaust outlets on the production model.

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The Q8 e-Tron Concept is nestled firmly in the full-size class with a wheelbase of 9.8 feet and an overall length of 16.5 feet.

All told, the Q8 e-Tron Concept is nestled firmly in the full-size class with a wheelbase of 9.8 feet and an overall length of 16.5 feet. And, it’s no slouch in the width department either, with an overall width of 6.7 feet, but that coupe-like body keeps the height relatively low at 5.6 feet. Those are some unusual dimensions for an SUV, but somehow the whole package works, and as a production model, this baby will be hard to beat if the main design cues carry over. Here’s to hoping.

Luxurious Interior Functionality

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When it comes to concepts, their interiors are generally either not existent or so futuristic that most features couldn’t carry over to a production model. The Q8 e-Tron Concept, on the other hand, comes correct with an interior that isn’t so far-fetched and could carry over to the production line almost unchanged. On the technology front, there’s a unique all-digital display that could showcase the next evolution of Audi’s 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit. It offers a resolution of 1920 x 720 pixels and can display maps, lists, and select vehicle information. It should be noted that this screen takes a shape similar to that of the front grille. Then you’ve got the large touchscreen display in the center stack that serves as the hub for the infotainment system and goes with the smaller touchscreen in the center console that offers control of the HVAC system – something that helps to eliminate a number of physical buttons compared to what we’re used to on modern cars.

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The Q8 e-Tron Concept, on the other hand, comes correct with an interior that isn’t so far-fetched and could carry over to the production line almost unchanged.

The steering wheel is flat-bottom in nature and offers the usual thumb control buttons on the side spokes. The Q8 concept sports a traditional shifter, which is refreshing when you consider everyone is trying to reinvent the shifter we’ve been accustomed to all these years. The seats look nice and comfortable and seem to offer plenty of side support up top while the seat cushion is a little less supportive. Rear passengers are afforded many of the same luxuries as those in the front, including their own center console with a touchscreen display that serves as the control house for the rear HVAC system. There’s also a central armrest that raises to provide a small storage cubby. The seats themselves are identical to the front seats, so that’s certainly a plus when it comes to comfort and support.

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It’s an attractive interior design, and should Audi carry it over to production with minimal changes, I’m sure the masses will love what it offers.

Audi didn’t afford me the luxury of getting inside the concept, but I did manage to open the rear hatch and snag a shot of the cargo area. As you can see, it’s a large, wide-open space that would provide ample cargo room. The floor of the cargo area is a hard but rubber-like texture, which is ideal for those of us who haul things around with us, while the sides of the cargo area get the same carpeting as the rest of the vehicle. But, there is something important to note here. Because of the low-slung roof, the actual opening to the cargo area is smaller than what we’re accustomed to on most SUVs, as is the overall height of the cargo area. Be that as it may, the Q8 concept still offers a total of 22.2 cubic-feet. Given the fact that the rear seats are captains seats, they don’t lay flat, and therefore expandable cargo room isn’t an option. I would expect this to change on the production model, but then again, Audi may roll with what it has here in an attempt to reach out to those more interested in luxury and comfort as opposed to utilitarian purposes.

Either way, it’s an attractive interior design, and should Audi carry it over to production with minimal changes, I’m sure the masses will love what it offers. The technology is well within current technological capabilities so expect to see most the technology seen here go into production as will the LED interior lights, and overall stylish design.

A Hybrid Heart of Gold

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As an “e-Tron,” the Q8 Concept is a plug-in hybrid that makes use of a lithium-ion battery rated at 17.9 kWh and offers an all-electric range of 37.3 miles on a full charge via the 100-kW electric motor. That motor delivers a total of 243.4 pound-feet of torque and is integrated into the eight-speed Tiptronic transmission. The ICE that provides the real juice is a 3.0-liter gasoline unit that delivers 222 horsepower and 368.8 pound-feet of torque. Audi’s official rating numbers put the total output of the entire system at 442.53 horsepower and 516.3 pound-feet of torque. Per Audi, that’s enough to get the Concept up to 62 mph in 5.4 seconds. On the NED cycle, it’s rated at 2.3-liters per 100 km or 102.3 mpg. That’s a little hard to believe, so we’ll withhold judgment on that until we see what the production model can accomplish in that department. With the engine and motor working together at maximum efficiency, the Q8 Concept can travel 621.4 miles on a full tank with a fully charged battery. For the record, the battery can be fully charged in 2.5 hours when charged with a 7.2 kWh charging system.

2017 Audi Q8 E-tron Concept Computer Renderings and Photoshop Drivetrain
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2017 Audi Q8 E-tron Concept Computer Renderings and Photoshop Drivetrain
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The Q8 Concept is a plug-in hybrid that makes use of a lithium-ion battery rated at 17.9 kWh and offers an all-electric range of 37.3 miles on a full charge via the 100-kW electric motor.

Audi says that the hybrid system is controlled intelligently and flexibly, taking many things into account including near surroundings and road conditions, among other things. As such, it will automatically coast and recuperate energy when possible. But, Audi’s drive select system is in tow and allows drivers to choose between one of three modes: EV model prioritizes electric mobility and will use the ICE as little as possible. Hybrid mode is the mode that does most of the work automatically and will combine the utilization of the ICE and electric motor in the most efficient way possible. Finally, “battery hold” mode allows the system to rely primarily on the 3.0-liter engine while allowing the onboard battery pack to maintain its charge for use at a later time.

When it comes to the driveline, the Q8 concept has a permanent all-wheel-drive system that makes use of wheel-selective torque control that distributes torque as needed while using the brakes to slow down the inside wheels when cornering for better stability and control. With the addition of the adaptive air suspension, the ride can be adjusted between soft and firm, which provides excellent ride quality when cruising or little body roll when cornering. The ride height is also adjustable between two levels that cover a total of 3.5 inches. The Q8 concept utilizes a five-link setup in the front and rear.

2017 Audi Q8 E-tron Concept Computer Renderings and Photoshop Drivetrain
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2017 Audi Q8 E-tron Concept Computer Renderings and Photoshop Drivetrain
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The drivetrain of the Q8 e-Tron Concept is, like the rest of the vehicle, near production ready.

With all of this in mind, the drivetrain of the Q8 e-Tron Concept is, like the rest of the vehicle, near production ready. So, when the production model does make its long-awaited debut, you can expect to see similar figures in the horsepower and torque department. But, I’m not quite sure about those fuel economy numbers, so I wouldn’t exactly recommend holding your breath expecting Audi’s next full-size SUV to deliver more than 100 mpg. But, maybe Audi will deliver on that front. I don’t think it’s likely, but I certainly hope they do. Who wouldn’t want that kind of efficiency with more than 400 horsepower and 500 pound-feet on tap? Sounds like heaven to me, but we shall see.

Conclusion

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When you consider that the other concepts that debuted at the Detroit Auto Show were blocked off and, in the case of the BMW X2 Concept, void of an actual interior that we could see, it’s refreshing to see a concept from Audi that has a functional interior. Furthermore, it’s overall design, and all of the technology is feasible, and well within Audi’s technological capabilities, so we could see the official production model sporting similar amenities and technology. Of course, I wouldn’t expect that second row to carry over, and the production model should offer more cargo room if that second row folds flat. But, considering the lithium-ion battery pack is located beneath the floor of the cargo area, that 22.2 cubic-feet of cargo space is quite impressive. There is no official timetable in place that tells use when the production model will officially debut, but rumor has it that it should come for the 2019 model year. With that in mind, Audi has plenty of time to iron out of all the little details and should offer a superb addition to its current SUV lineup.

  • Leave it
    • * The coupe/SUV look seems awkward to me
    • * Will likely be expensive in production form

Press Release

Photo Credit: Audi

Dynamic, highly efficient and extremely comfortable: Audi presents the Audi Q8 concept at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) 2017. With this model the premium manufacturer is tapping into a new segment for the full-size class – an elegant alternative to the robust presence of a classic sport utility vehicle. The Q8 concept stands for maximum prestige. It combines the spaciousness of an SUV with the emotional lines of a coupe. Propulsion is provided by a powerful, yet highly efficient plug-in hybrid with 330 kW of system output and 700 Nm (516.3 lb-ft) of torque. The concept car is the basis for a production model that Audi will launch on the market in 2018.

At 5.02 meters (16.5 ft) long, the Audi Q8 concept is an impressive presence in the full-size class. Thanks to a wheelbase of three meters (9.8 ft), the show car offers plenty of space for passengers and luggage. Despite the sloping, coupe-like roofline, even the rear-seat passengers enjoy ample head and shoulder room. The control concept uses large touchscreens in the cockpit and is rounded out by an expanded version of the Audi virtual cockpit and a contact-analogue head-up display. The latter uses intelligent augmented reality technology that merges the real and the virtual worlds.

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“The Q8 concept is an Audi in peak form. It demonstrates the strengths of our brand in both technology and design while providing a glimpse at a future full-size, production SUV,” said Dietmar Voggenreiter, Member of the Board of Management for Sales and Marketing at AUDI AG. “With its next-generation display and control solutions, we are enabling customers to experience connectivity in a whole new way.”

Dynamic lines and digital Matrix laser technology: the front end
The front view of the 2.04-meter-wide (6.7 ft) Audi Q8 concept is already impressive. The distinguishing feature here is the octagonal Singleframe with honeycomb insert. It is sculpted and significantly wider than in today’s Audi production models. Six upright double bars structure the radiator grille while simultaneously emphasizing its height. A mask painted in a contrasting color frames the grille. The outer air inlets have a deep and dynamic appearance like the intakes of a turbine. A distinctive aluminum blade forms the bottom edge of the bumper.

The flat, wedge-shaped headlights of the Audi Q8 concept are integrated progressively into the exterior and connected from a design perspective to the surrounding air inlets. The individual lighting units have glass covers, but the headlights as a whole are open. This creates the impression that they are free in space. The aluminum housing for the headlights carries over the sculpture of the Singleframe. The clear geometry gives the Audi Q8 concept a determined look. An x-shaped, blue laser light signature highlights the digital Matrix laser technology used for the low and high beams. Broken down into more than one million pixels, their light can illuminate the road in high resolution and with precise control. Located below the edge of the engine hood is a narrow LED light guide that emits the light for the dynamic turn signals and the daytime running lights. It wraps around the outside of the headlights, where its ribs create an innovative e-tron signature. All lighting functions are dynamic.

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Athletic and powerful: the side view
The silouhette of the Audi concept car also evokes tautness. The doors do not have window frames, thus contributing to the flat roofline. The Audi Q8 concept is 1.70 meters (5.6 ft) tall. All lines on the body climb upward dynamically toward the rear – the bottom edge of the side window, the shoulders, the dynamic line and the sill lines. The surfaces of the fenders, doors and side panels are athletically curved. The lower section of the doors form a deep fillet. Other design features are the quattro logo milled below the rear doors and also the exterior mirrors with their multifaceted edges. The doors are opened via touch sensors. As soon as the door detects hand contact, it opens easily and swings to a defined opening angle.

The extremely flat and very wide C-pillar is reminiscent of the Audi Ur-quattro from the 1980s, as are the strongly flared shoulders over the wheels. This places the concept car in a logical line with the show cars of the Audi Prologue series. The balanced proportions of the Audi Q8 concept emphasize the front and rear wheels equally – that too is typical quattro. The strongly accentuated wheel arches feature a double design. The sill region of the doors shines in brushed aluminum for an intriguing contrast to the show car’s Bombay blue paint finish.

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Flat and compact: the rear

A long roof edge spoiler shades the extremely flat rear window of the Audi concept car. A double spoiler lip below the window forms a distinctive contour on the power luggage compartment hatch. The strip of lights extending over the entire width of the rear end is part of a distinctive e-tron light signature. It serves as both the tail and brake light as well as the dynamic turn signals. The four outer lighting elements are set in aluminum blades and reflect the semantics of the headlights. The individual elements of the tail lights are also open, and all lighting functions are dynamic.

The license plate of the Audi Q8 concept is located on a black trim strip between the lights – a typical feature of the Audi Ur-quattro. The diffuser is made of aluminum; its clasp of high-gloss Carbon Atlas. This combination of materials is also used around the headlights to demonstrate sportiness.

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Luxury seating for four: the interior
The interior of the Audi Q8 concept offers opulent spaciousness for four persons and their large suitcases. The luggage compartment has a capacity of 630 liters (22.2 cu ft). Widely stretched lines lend the cockpit a sporty as well as elegant ambiance. Virtually floating above the center tunnel is a console for the shift-by-wire lever, with which the driver controls the eight-speed tiptronic transmission purely electronically. The console’s appearance resembles the stern of a sailing yacht.

The wrap-around begins in the front doors. This large, horizontal arc runs along the lower edge of the windshield and frames the driver’s and front passenger’s seats without hemming in the occupants. The sport seats as well as the two individual seats in the rear are made up of segments that appear to be separate geometric bodies, from the pronounced side bolsters to the head restraints. A horizontal aluminum clasp divides the backrests at the height of the window shoulder line.

The instrument panel with its distinctly horizontal character descends in steps toward the interior. The central control and display surfaces are integrated into the so-called “black panel” – a glossy black strip framed by an aluminum clasp. When switched off, the monitor is invisibly embedded in the surface and the lines flow harmoniously. When the display is in operation, it assimilates perfectly into the design line. In the front passenger area, the black panel encircles
a graphical quattro badge. The arrow-shaped inlays in the doors pick up the expressive design. Filigree aluminum bars integrated into them serve as door openers. When dark, LED light guides illuminate the interior with white light.

The colors and materials in the Audi A8 concept provide for a cool and sporty atmosphere. One highlight is the three-dimensional, engineered grain on the instrument panel, doors and floor. High-gloss carbon applications with a new, abstract fabric structure as well as aluminum strips and frames set accents. Their brushed finish is relatively dark. Brightness increases gradually from the headlining to the center console in graduated shades of gray from steel gray to pastel silver.

The technical materials in the Audi Q8 concept contrast with the soft surfaces. The seats are covered in a combination of Fine Nappa leather and Nubuk leather, both in pastel silver. The upholstery is pulled around the clasp that divides the backrests – the inside becomes the outside at this point. The head restraints are covered with a structured textile of a color similar to that of the leather elements.

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New ways: controls and displays

The elegant interior architecture of the Audi Q8 concept merges with a groundbreaking control and display concept. Information and commands are passed primarily through touch displays augmented by the Audi virtual cockpit and a contact analogue head-up display. All displays feature a new “digital design” that concentrates systematically on the most important things.

The contact analogue head-up display projects important displays onto the windshield in the driver’s direct field of view, seemingly placing them in the real environment. A navigation arrow, for example, appears in the same position as an actual arrow on the road – an intelligent application of augmented reality. The notifications from the driver assistance systems also merge the virtual and physical worlds.

The Audi virtual cockpit future is even more dynamic thanks to new functions, and with a resolution of 1920 x 720 pixels displays graphics with more detail than ever before. In “auto” display mode, the 12.3-inch TFT display offers generous space for maps, lists and additional information. The top-down map view visualizes the selected route. When zooming in, the current position and surroundings are displayed in 3D. Through the buttons on the steering wheel, the driver can switch to “performance” mode. The needles of the speedometer and powermeter now appear in a foreshortened, three-dimensional display.

All other monitors in the Audi Q8 concept are touch displays. The great strength of this principle is the direct, fast and intuitive operation. Drivers select each function exactly where they see it. Audi was also able to reduce the number of buttons, switches and levers thanks to the touchscreens. The interior now appears even neater and cleaner.

The MMI monitor in center of the dashboard is used to control the infotainment system and for vehicle settings. A display for the climate control system is integrated into the diagonal section of the center console. The driver’s wrist rests comfortably on the low selector lever of the eight-speed tiptronic while using this display. If the sensors in the seat detect a front-seat passenger, the touchscreen displays their climate control settings. This function is not available when the driver is traveling alone. Another touchscreen is reserved for the lighting functions.

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Powerful and highly efficient: the drive system

The Audi Q8 concept uses production technologies for the drive system and suspension. The plug-in hybrid combines sporty performance with high efficiency. The combustion engine is a 3.0 TFSI producing 245 kW (333 hp) and a maximum of 500 Nm (368.8 lb-ft) of torque. The electric motor generates 100 kW of power and 330 Nm (243.4 lb-ft). Together with a decoupler, it is integrated into the eight-speed tiptronic. The complete system produces 330 kW and 700 Nm (516.3 lb-ft) of torque. The Audi Q8 concept accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in 5.4 seconds on its way to a top speed of 250 km/h (155.3 mph). According to the standard applicable for plug-in hybrids, it consumes just 2.3 liters of fuel (102.3 US mpg) per 100 kilometers (62.1 mi) in the NEDC, corresponding to 53 grams CO2 per km (85.3 g/mi).

The lithium-ion battery located in the rear consists of 104 prismatic cells. With a capacity of 17.9 kWh, it enables an electric range of 60 kilometers (37.3 mi), and the total range with the TFSI engine is up to 1,000 kilometers (621.4 mi). A full charge with 7.2 kW output takes about two and a half hours.

When driving, the hybrid management system controls the operating states of the
Audi Q8 concept intelligently and flexibly. The full-size SUV can boost, coast and recuperate as appropriate for the situation. The predictive efficiency assistant, which in production models supports the driver, provides the hybrid management system with highly detailed information about the near surroundings for this purpose. Route data from the navigation system and Audi connect Car-to-X services are also considered.

The driver controls the Audi drive select system via a prismatic satellite button on the flat-bottomed steering wheel, just like the start-stop system. There is a choice of three driving modes: “EV” mode prioritizes electric driving, while in “hybrid” mode the decision regarding the drive type is left largely to the hybrid management system. In “battery hold” mode, it saves the available electric energy for a later time.

High-tech from production models: drivetrain and suspension
In the Audi Q8 concept, the quattro permanent all-wheel drive system delivers the power of the hybrid drive to the road with supreme control. At the cornering limit, it works closely with the wheel-selective torque control. This minimally brakes the inside wheels, which further enhances dynamics and stability.

2017 Audi Q8 E-tron Concept Computer Renderings and Photoshop Drivetrain
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The concept car also uses high-end production solutions for its wide-track suspension. The adaptive air suspension sport – an air suspension system with controlled damping – allows a wide range from cushioned cruising to firm and tight handling. In addition, it sets the ground clearance in two levels, with 90 millimeters (3.5 in) height difference, to the ideal level in each case. The front and rear suspensions are engineered as lightweight five-link designs.

Audi mounts 305/35-series tires on the large 11J x 23 wheels. The five intertwining Y spokes project a filigreed, three-dimensional and powerful image. Ceramic brake discs measuring 20 inches in diameter effortlessly decelerate the Audi Q8 concept.

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