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Audi introduces 2019 Q8 flagship SUV

by Drew Johnson

The Q8 will sit atop the current Q7 in the Audi lineup.

Audi has lifted the veil on its highly anticipated Q8 SUV. As its name suggests, the Q8 will hail as Audi's flagship utility vehicle, slotting ahead of the current Q7.

The Q8 is largely based on the Q7, but the newest Audi SUV is wider, shorter and lower than its family oriented counterpart. Because of those tighter dimensions, the Q8 offers two-rows of seating rather than the three-rows of seat found in the Q7.

The Q8 is instantly recognizable as an Audi, but the larger SUV does usher in a number of design changes for the brand. The first is a more prominent interpretation of Audi's signature radiator grille design; the new unit is more three-dimensional and up-right than previous iterations. The Q8 has muscular lines that start at its hood and terminate in pronounced rear wheel arches. Because the Q8 has no third-row seat, Audi designers were able to include a sharply sloping rear roofline. The rear of the Q8 features futuristic-looking LED taillights connect by a full-width light bar.

Inside the Q8 has been fitted with Audi's latest MMI infotainment system, which uses two screens in the center stack. The Q8's top screen is reserved for things like navigation, while the lower screen is used for things like climate control. The Q8 also includes Audi's virtual cockpit LCD gauge display.

Audi has not detailed the Q8's powertrain lineup, but the automaker says every model will come standard with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system. The Q8's mild hybrid system will consist of a lithium-ion battery and a belt alternator starter.

All Q8s will also get Audi's quattro all-wheel drive system. Under normal operation the Q8 will send 40 percent of its power to the front axle and 60 percent to the rear. However, the quattro system can shift power around based on which axle has the most grip. The Q8 should have decent off-road ability thanks to its 10-inches of ground clearance and short front- and rear-overhangs.

Options for the Q8 will include air suspension and all-wheel steering.

On the tech front, the Q8 will feature all the bells and whistles you'd expect from a flagship vehicle — adaptive cruise control, lane change warning, 360 degree camera — but it will also come with a Car-to-X communication system and remote garage pilot, which allows control of the SUV from a smartphone application for parking situations.

Audi has not announced pricing information or an on sale date for the U.S. market, but the company says the Q8 will launch in Europe during the third quarter of 2018.