What can we expect from Audi’s upcoming full-size SUV?

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Rumors of a new full-size Audi SUV have been circulating for a long time and now there’s actual proof that Audi is indeed cooking a new flagship SUV model. Recently, a fully-camouflaged Audi SUV has been spotted testing at Volkswagen’s test facility in Sweden, doing cold-weather testing. With BMW’s introduction of the X7 and Mercedes’s GLS already on sale for some years, it only made sense for Audi to bring out a competitor. Here’s what we know so far.

Drivetrain & Performance

2023 Audi Q9
- image 975582

The Q9 is expected to make full use of the brand’s TFSI engines, more specifically their 55 and 60 TFSI versions. This means that we can expect 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 units with 381 horsepower (284 kW) and 442 pound-feet (600 Nm) for the 55 TFSI e, and 462 horsepower (344 kW) and 516 pound-feet (700 Nm) for the 60 TFSI e. This means that we can expect the Audi Q9 to be a plug-in hybrid. Audi is expected to aim for a 50 km (31 miles) electric range. Regardless of the powertrain, power will be sent to the wheels, via the Quattro system.

Audi Q9 55 TFSI Audi Q9 60 TFSI Audi SQ9
Engine 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8
Horsepower 381 HP 462 HP 600 HP
Torque 442 LB-FT 516 LB-FT 590 LB-FT
2023 Audi Q9
- image 975592
Being a full-size SUV, we might get an SQ9 version featuring the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8, with at least 600 horsepower (447 kW) and 590 pound-feet (800 Nm).

Given the strict emissions regulations, we can expect Mild-hybrid technology to aid the internal combustion engines. Notice there’s no mention of any diesel variants. However, nothing is certain at this point, so we might eventually see the return of the TDI letters on the Q9. The launch of the Audi Q9 TFSI e full-size plug-in hybrid electric SUV could take place in 2022. In any case, we are going to get more specific information, as the official unveiling closes in.

Design

2023 Audi Q9
- image 975583

Earlier reports indicated that the Audi Q9 will have a more coupe-like exterior design. We already know that the upcoming full-size Audi SUV will compete against the BMW X7 and Mercedes GLS, and now that we’ve seen the spy shots, we know for sure, it will feature a more traditional SUV shape with a third seat row and a big trunk.

As you can see the pattern of the camouflage is not what we usually see on Audi prototypes that test in Europe but more the same pattern on the prototypes testing in China. This could indicate that Audi’s Chinese division is doing some of the development unless Audi decides to make the Q9 a China-only model. The latter is rather unlikely since both the GLS and X-7 are global models.

2023 Audi Q9
- image 975589
That said, Audi is the oldest German car brand in China and one of its most popular imports, so Audi’s Chinese division might really have a large say in the Q9’s development process.

Although this is only a prototype, we can already see what shape the production car’s headlights will be. At the back, we also see the correct taillights that we’ll get when the Q9 makes its debut. Furthermore, a specialist from Audi confirmed that the test car is actually a mule, based on a VW Atlas body, with certain bits from Audi, such as the front end.

The wheel arches/ rear fenders and the last side rear windows resemble the ones of the Atlas a lot. Needless to say, both SUVs will most probably share a platform, just like previous SUV models of VW, Audi, and Porsche have.

Conclusion

2023 Audi Q9
- image 975592

Audi has a history of having to catch up to its peers – Mercedes and BMW. This goes double for the premium SUV segment. However, while in the past Audi struggled to keep up in terms of tech, nowadays, the brand has more than caught up to its competitors. Audi may be a bit late to the full-size seven-seat SUV party, but it appears they are cooking up something truly special that will no doubt give the X-7 and GLS a run for their money. The only question is, will it be a global model or will it be focused on the Chinese market?

Dim Angelov
Dim Angelov
Born in 1992, I come from a family of motoring enthusiasts. My passion for cars was awoken at the age of six, when I saw a Lamborghini Diablo SV in a magazine. After high school I earned a master’s degree in marketing and a Master of Arts in Media and Communications. Over the years, I’ve practiced and become skilled in precision driving and to date have test driven more than 250 cars across the globe. Over the years, I’ve picked up basic mechanical knowledge and have even taken part in the restoration of a 1964 Jaguar E-Type and an Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint. Lately, I’ve taken a fancy to automotive photography, and while modern cars are my primary passion, I also have a love for Asian Martial Arts, swimming, war history, craft beer, historical weapons, and car restoration. In time, I plan my own classic car restoration and hope to earn my racing certificate, after which I expect to establish my own racing team.  Read full bio
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