Audi’s answer to the BMW X6 and Porsche Cayenne Coupe

After six years of rumors that began when Audi trademarked the Q8 name in 2012, the German company finally unveiled its proposition against the BMW X6 and Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe. It’s called the Audi Q8, and it’s heavily based on a concept car that the Germans introduced in 2018. It’s modern, aggressive, it packs Audi’s latest technology, and promises to give the BMW X6, Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe, and the Porsche Cayenne Coupe a good run for their money.

When BMW introduced the X6 in 2009, a new segment was born. But although the crossover BMW describes as a Sports Activity Coupe proved somewhat popular with SUV enthusiasts, the trend didn’t catch on with other automakers until 2013. That’s when Mercedes-Benz revealed plans to develop a coupe-like crossover based on the M-Class. Shortly after, rumors of a Cayenne Coupe emerged, signaling that Germany’s finest automakers finally pay more attention to this niche. Come 2018 and Audi joined the battle with the prettiest SUV it has created in recent years.

2019 Audi Q8 Exterior

  • Fast facts
  • Concept-inspired design
  • Massive grille
  • Sporty bumpers
  • Sleek profile
  • Wide taillights
  • LED lights
  • Unique in the lineup
2019 Audi Q8 Exterior
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It looks surprisingly sporty given its size, and the front fascia is downright aggressive.

Design-wise, the Q8 remains faithful to the Sport Concept we’ve seen in 2017. It looks surprisingly sporty given its size, and the front fascia is downright aggressive. It’s like Audi wanted to design a crossover based on the R8 sports car.

The front end sports the traditional Singleframe grille, but the element has been redesigned to look unique for this model. The unit is wider, taller, and sports sharp corners for a menacing look. The chrome trim is backed by a thick frame that extends toward the headlamps and the fog lamp bezels, while the grille combined vertical and horizontal slats finished in chrome and black.

The slim headlamps feature LED technology as standard, while Matrix LEDs are available. The black trim underneath make the lights seem a bit bigger than they are, but that effect vanished when the tiny LED strips light up. As a cool feature, Q8 owners can use the myAudi app on their smartphone to activate various lighting functions from the outside. The lower bumper is just as sporty as the grille, featuring massive vents onto the sides. The lower section curves upward over the underbelly plate, taking the shape of a sporty splitter. The muscular engine hood with the bulged center section completes the look.

2019 Audi Q8 Exterior
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The massive 22-inch wheels are tucked under prominent wheel arches, while the 10-inch ground clearance gives the Q8 an imposing stance

The side view blends the best of performance hatchbacks and crossovers. The massive 22-inch wheels are tucked under prominent wheel arches, while the 10-inch ground clearance gives the Q8 an imposing stance. On the other hand, the fine arches that define the front fenders and the rear haunches suggest that the Q8 is a rather dynamic SUV. The roof shape reminds me of the original Quattro notchback of the 1980s, especially due to the gently inclined D-pillar and the tall quarter window. However, the Q8’s roof goes the coupe way toward the rear, with the rear door window becoming narrower and the D-pillar slope increasing as it moves toward the really small deck lid.

The rear fascia is equally unique. The taillights scream for attention thanks to their slim, angular design with small, vertical LED strips and the horizontal light bar that runs the entire width of the tailgate. The protective plate in the bumper is shaped like a diffuser, while the exhaust pipes are rather big. The sloping tailgate sports a sizable spoiler at the top.

2019 Audi Q8 Exterior
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The taillights scream for attention thanks to their slim, angular design with small, vertical LED strips and the horizontal light bar that runs the entire width of the tailgate

As far as size goes, the Q8 is 16.4 feet long, 6.6 feet wide, and 5.6 feet tall, which makes it shorter, wider, and lower than the Q7. Needless to say, it’s the sexiest vehicle Audi has launched in many years!

2019 Audi Q8 - Exterior Dimensions

Lenght 4.99 meters (16.4 ft)
Width 2.00 meters (6.6 ft)
Height 1.71 meters (5.6 ft)
Wheelbase 3.00 meters (9.8 ft)

2019 Audi Q8 Interior

  • Premium dashboard
  • Big displays all over the place
  • Comfortable seats
  • New MMI infotainment
  • Wide center console
  • Competitive legroom
  • Better rear headroom that the competition
2019 Audi Q8 Interior
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The interior is obviously based on the Q7, but it has an impressive amount of unique features

The interior is obviously based on the Q7, but it has an impressive amount of unique features. The continuous air vent strip is placed at the top of the dashboard, a design cue we’ve seen in a few Audis so far, but the lower section is finished in black, giving the cabin a luxurious look. What’s more, the background matches that of the infotainment screen, leaving the impression that the entire dash is just a big display. The blue ambient lighting at the bottom further enhances that effect.

Speaking of displays, the MMI touch system in this crossover consists of two different screens. There’s a 10.1-inch unit in the center stack and a smaller, 8.6-inch screen above the center console. The latter handles inputs for heating and air conditioning, which results in a clean layout with almost no buttons and knobs. The instrument cluster is also fully digital, with 12.3 inches of room to display drivetrain data and the navigation map. There are two views selectable from the multi-function steering wheel, while a third, optional view gives the driver access to a sportier display. Finally, there’s a heads-up display that projects more data onto the steering wheel.

2019 Audi Q8 Interior
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The wide center console is flanked by two big and comfortable seats wrapped in fine leather with a diamond-quilt pattern

The wide center console is flanked by two big and comfortable seats wrapped in fine leather with a diamond-quilt pattern. While the standard seats look comfortable enough, Audi offers customized contour seats with massage and ventilation functions. There’s also optional four-zone climate control and an air quality package. Other convenience features include LTE Advanced data transfer, Wi-Fi hotspot, a navigation system with intelligent suggestions, and Car-to-X services for traffic and hazard information. The optional Audi Connect key allows you to lock/unlock the car and start the engine using an Android smartphone.

But how comfortable is the Q8 given that it’s shorter than the Q7? Well, the wheelbase is nearly 10 feet long, which means there should be plenty of legroom for rear passengers. The photos suggest that you can’t stretch that much behind the front seats, but you won’t become numb after a two-hour ride either. Audi claims that the Q8 offers superior legroom and headroom compared to its rivals. A quick comparison reveals that the BMW X6 and the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe offers similar legroom, but the Q8 fairs better when it comes to headroom for rear passengers, mostly because its roof is just a tad boxier above the rear seats.

2019 Audi Q8 Interior
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The wheelbase is nearly 10 feet long, which means there should be plenty of legroom for rear passengers.

As far as luggage room goes, the Q8 can swallow up to 21.4 cubic feet of stuff with the rear seats in place. That’s a notable drop of 5.8 cubic feet from the longer Q7, but I can’t say it’s surprising. With the second-row seats folded flat, the Q8’s capacity rises to 62 cubic feet. Again, it’s seven cubic feet less than the Q7, but it’s an impressive figure for the coupe-style crossover niche. To find out more about that we need to compare it to its direct rivals.

At 21.4 cubic feet with the rear seats in place, the Q8 raises above the competition, although not by much. The BMW X6 is rated at 20.5, while the Porsche Cayanne Coupe comes with a 21.2-cubic-foot capacity. This means that the Q8 wins by 0.9 and 0.2 cubic-feet, respectively. On the flipside, the Q8 offers less space than the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe, rated at 23 cubic feet, an extra 1.6 cubic feet. One thing to note here though is that the GLE Coupe is no longer in production and a new variant has yet to be announced as of July 2019.

2019 Audi Q8 Exterior
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With the rear seats folded flat, the Q8 is even better than its rivals. Rated at 62 cubic feet, it provides significantly more space than the BMW X6, with a capacity of 54 cubic feet, and the Porsche Cayenne Coupe, with a capacity of 54.3 cubic feet. That’s an extra eight and 7.7 cubic feet, respectively. Although it has less space behind the second-row seats than the GLE Coupe, it’s offers a bit more room than the Merc with the seats folded flat. The outgoing GLE Coupe is rated at 60.7 cubic feet, 1.3 cubic feet less than the Q8.

All told, the Audi Q8 is one of the most practical coupe-styled SUVs. However, much like its rivals, it has a narrow tailgate opening that limits what you can stuff in the trunk. But can still carry large bags, and you can stack up a few items until you lose visibility through the rear window.

2019 Audi Q8 Drivetrain

  • Engines taken from the Q8
  • 3.0-liter V-6 gas
  • Two V-6 diesels
  • Mild hybrid V-8 in the SQ8
  • Mechanical differential
  • 48V hybrid system
  • Optional air suspension
2019 Audi Q8 Drivetrain
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The gasoline range begins with the 55 TFSI trim, powered by a 3.0-liter V-6

As expected, the Q8 borrows its engine options from the Q7. However, the coupe-style crossover is limited to only four of the eight drivetrains available with the Q7. There are two gasoline units and two diesel, with only the former available in the U.S.

The gasoline range begins with the 55 TFSI trim, powered by a 3.0-liter V-6. The turbocharged unit cranks out 340 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. It pushes the Q8 from 0 to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, toward a top speed of 155 mph. This output puts the Q8 55 TFSI on par with the BMW X6 xDrive40i, rated at 335 horses and 330 pound-feet, and the Porsche Cayenne Coupe, rated at 335 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of twist.

2019 Audi Q8 Exterior
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The SQ8's total system out is rated at 429 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque

The second gasoline model is the SQ8, a trim that’s usually sold as a separate model from the usual lineup. Unlike previous S-badged models, it ditched the gasoline engine in favor of an oil burner. The mill in question is a twin-turbo, 4.0-liter V-8 and it’s backed by a 48-volt starter alternator. Total system out is rated at 429 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque and moves the SQ8 from 0 to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds, and up to a top speed of 155 mph.

The SQ8 is a competitor for the BMW X6 M50i and the Porsche Cayenne Coupe Turbo, but it generates notably less power. The X6 M50i features a twin-turbo, 4.4-liter V-8 that’s good for 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet, while the Cayenne Turbo boasts a twin-turbo, 4.0-liter V-8 that generates 541 horses and 568 pound-feet. The Q8 loses against both by more than 100 horsepower, but it benefits from an extra 100 pound-feet, so the deficit isn’t that big overall.

2019 Audi Q8 Exterior
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The most powerful Q8 diesel comes with 286 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque on tap

On the diesel front, Audi offers a turbo 3.0-liter V-6 in two flavors. There’s the 45 TDI with 231 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque and the 50 TDI with 286 horses and 443 pound-feet of twist. The former charges to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds, while the latter hits the benchmark in 6.3 seconds. Top speed for these crossovers are limited to 145 and 152 mph, respectively.

Competition for the diesel-powered Q8 comes from the BMW X6 xDrive30d. Powered by a 3.0-liter inline-six oil burner, this Bimmer comes with 261 horsepower and 457 pound-feet of torque on tap. Output-wise it falls right between the 45 TDI and 50 TDI. While it delivers 30 horses more than the first model, it falls behind the second by 25 horsepower. It trumps both in the torque department though, by 88 and 14 pound-feet, respectively.

2019 Audi Q8 Exterior
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The 48-volt system incorporates a lithium-ion battery and a belt alternator starter

All Q8 models come with an eight-speed automatic transmission and a Quattro all-wheel-drive system. The Q8 is also equipped with a mechanical center differential that transfers torque to the front and rear axles at a ratio of 40:60. When required, it transfers the majority of power to the axle with the better traction.

The 48-volt system incorporates a lithium-ion battery and a belt alternator starter. During braking, it can recover up to 12 kW of power and send it back into the battery. This technology also enables long coasting phases with the engine deactivated and a start-stop range that begins at 13.7 mph.

2019 Audi Q8 Exterior
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The SUV rides on a suspension system with damper control at standard, but there’s an optional air suspension with controlled damping that adjusts ride height by as much as 3.5 inches. Total ground clearance is up to 10 inches, which makes the Q8 a comfortable ride off the pavement. All-wheel steering is optional and increases agility at higher speeds.

There’s no word as to whether Audi will add other drivetrains from the Q7, but the e-tron is definitely a possibility. This model will pair a 3.0-liter TDI and an electric motor built into the eight-speed automatic transmission. The combo develops 373 horses and 516 pound-feet of torque in the Q7 and provides a 35-mile range on electric power only.

2019 Audi Q8 Prices

2019 Audi Q8 Exterior
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In the U.S., the Q8 is available with the 55 TFSI drivetrain only. Pricing starts from $67,400 for the Premium trim and increases to $71,400 for the Premium Plus model. The range-topping Prestige variant fetches $76,550 before options.

2019 Audi Q8 Competition

Porsche Cayenne Coupe

2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe Exterior
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The Porsche Cayenne Coupe was launched for the 2020 model year and it’s essentially a regular Cayenne with a sleeker rear end. Its interior is also based on the regular Cayenne, but with the restrictions that come with a coupe-style roof, including less headroom for rear-seat passengers. The Cayenne Coupe is a solid offering when it comes to performance though, but it comes with just two engines and no diesel options. The lineup starts with a 3.0-liter V-6 rated at 335 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. The Cayenne Coupe Turbo features a bigger, 4.0-liter V-8. The twin-turbo mill delivers 541 horsepower and 568 pound-feet, a rating that makes this model the most powerful in this comparison. The Coupe Turbo is also the quickest, needing only 3.7 seconds to hit 60 mph from a standing start. Its top speed is limited at a class-leading 177 mph. The Cayenne Coupe is a bit more expensive though, starting from $75,300.

Read our full story on the 2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe

BMW X6

2020 BMW X6
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The third-gen X6 is also a brand-new model, having been launched for the 2020 model year. Based on the latest X5, it’s sportier than before and its rear fascia isn’t as horrendous as it used to be. Fitted with BMW’s latest technologies and convenience features, it’s just as advanced as the competition. The engine lineup is pretty diverse. Gas options include a 3.0-liter inline-six that generates 335 horsepower and 330 pound-feet. It’s offered in the 40i model with either rear- or all-wheel drive. Next up is the X6 M50i, powered by a 4.4-liter V-8 rated at 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. On the diesel front, the range begins with the xDrive30d, powered by a 3.0-liter inline-six with 261 horses and 457 pound-feet. Finally, there’s a range-topping M50d trim with a quad-turbo inline-six that generates a solid 394 horsepower and 561 pound-feet of twist. Pricing for the X6 ranges from $64,300 for the entry-level model to $85,650 for the M50i.

Read our full review of the 2020 BMW X6

Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe High Resolution Exterior
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Mercedes-Benz joined this market in 2015 with the GLE Coupe, a coupe-style version of the M-Class SUV, renamed the GLE for its mid-cycle facelift. However, the GLE coupe is quite old compared to the Audi and the Bimmer, as its underpinnings and design were introduced all the way back in 2011. As a result, the GLE Coupe comes with some of Mercedes’ older engines. The gas range begins with the GLE 400 4Matic rated at 333 horsepower and 354 pound-feet. More power can be had with the AMG GLE43, which uses a 3.0-liter V-6 rated at 385 horsepower. Finally, the AMG GLE63 S, powered by the old 5.5-liter V-8, benefits from 577 horsepower and charges to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds. As far as diesels go, there’s the GLE 350d 4Matic with 258 horsepower and 457 pound-feet. Unfortunately, only the AMG versions are available in the U.S., with pricing starting from $70,500. A brand-new model will arrive in 2019 though.

Read our full review on the 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe.

Conclusion

2019 Audi Q8 Exterior
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It’s definitely exciting to see Audi expanding into a new market. The BMW X6 is no longer solo in its segment, and it appears all the major German companies are working on a competitor. With the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe already in showrooms, as is the Porsche Cayenne Coupe. With four models on the market we’re about to witness a new battle of the titans. The Q8 has a few important advantages over the competition. For starters, it comes with a more modern design, all the latest tech, and a lot more appeal for new customers. I also think that the Q8 is quite the looker and the Quattro Sport-inspired roof is a nice touch compared to the hunchback look of the X6 and GLE Coupe. If this crossover also gets an e-Tron version, BMW and Mercedes are in big trouble until their new-generation SUVs arrive. Finally, the Q8 sports the bigger trunk and offers significantly better headroom for rear-seat passengers.

  • Leave it
    • Release date unknown
    • Yet another useless, X6-like crossover

References

2017 Audi Q8 Sport Concept High Resolution Exterior AutoShow
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Read our full review on the 2017 Audi Q8 Sport Concept.

2017 Audi Q8 E-tron Concept Exterior Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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Read our full review on the 2017 Audi Q8 E-tron Concept.

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Read more Audi news.

Spy Shots

October 4, 2017 - Audi Q8 reveals its interior

2019 Audi Q8
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2019 Audi Q8
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May 29, 2017 - Audi Q8 caught testing at Nurbugring once again

2019 Audi Q8 Exterior Spyshots
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2019 Audi Q8 Exterior Spyshots
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April 7, 2017 - Audi Q8 caught testing at Nurburgring

2019 Audi Q8 Exterior Spyshots
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2019 Audi Q8 Exterior Spyshots
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July 13, 2016 - Audi Q7 based mule caught testing

2019 Audi Q8 Exterior Spyshots
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2019 Audi Q8 Exterior Spyshots
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Update History

Updated 10/04/2017: Our spy photographers caught the upcoming Audi Q8 out for a new testing session, and this time we have more clear images of the interior.

Updated 05/29/2017: Our spy photographers caught the upcoming Audi Q8 out for a new testing session at the famous Nurbugring race track.

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