By Nat Shirley
Monday, Nov 19th, 2012 @ 12:46 pm
 

Is there room for growth in the crossover-coupe niche segment created by the BMW X6? Audi apparently thinks so: the automaker has green-lighted a sleek full-size crossover called the Q8 for production, a new report finds.

According to Car, the Q8 has been approved by Audi management and will share its architecture with the next Q7. Look for the Q8 to sport more streamlined styling than its platform-mate and be positioned at the very top of Audi's crossover lineup.

While the Q8 isn't expected to launch before 2017 and precise details are scarce, it is believed that extensive use of aluminum could help the Q8 weight in at nearly 700 pounds lighter than the somewhat porky current-gen Q7. A full range of forced induction six- and eight-cylinder gasoline engines will likely be on the menu, and a rumored RS variant could offer up to 550 horsepower. For the efficiency minded, Audi is also expected to offer TDI diesel and plug-in hybrid models.

The Q8 is part of Audi's new crossover strategy, which calls for coupe-like models with even-numbered monikers to supplement the existing, traditionally-styled odd-numbered models. The four-ring automaker has already officially confirmed that it will challenge the mid-size BMW X6 head-on with the Q6, and smaller Q4 and Q2 models are also expected.