Audi talks design and powertrain
Another auto show, another Audi Q8 concept. The first Q8 concept was one of the stars of Audi’s Detroit show lineup, highlighting a dramatic change in design direction for the brand. The Q8 Sport revealed in Geneva toned down some of the auto show eye candy of the first car, and previewed a new Audi powertrain.
“It is a production car,” says Audi design chief Marc Lichte of the Q8 Sport concept. “This is 95 percent production. Change the bumpers, add door handles and mirrors, and that’s it.” Lichte says the interior is also 90 percent of what we’ll see when the production Q8 debuts in 2018.
A lot of the form language in the Q8 will appear in the new A8 sedan, the first Audi to be designed entirely on Lichte’s watch, scheduled to make its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show later this year. While Volkswagen Group’s MLB vehicle architecture has in the past prompted Audi designers to resort to visual tricks to disguise its relatively short dash-to-axle ratio, Lichte plans to celebrate it.
Quattro, says Lichte, is not a badge but a proportion. “We have a different proportion to all our competitors,” he says. “With rear-wheel drive, everything is sitting on the rear wheels. We will stress all four wheels.” Lichte’s Audis will therefore feature a narrow body between the fenders, with equally weighted bulges over the front and rear wheels. “This is quattro proportion,” he says. The execution will differ from model to model, but the basic theme will be consistent.
Lichte will also more clearly differentiate A and Q models at the front end, the road cars getting a six-sided single frame grille, and the SUVs an octagonal version. Again, the execution will vary slightly from model to model, but the fundamentals will be the same.
The Q8 Sport concept also previewed a new mild hybrid powertrain that will be shared with the forthcoming A8. The powertrain comprises an electrically turbocharged—thanks to a 48-volt electrical system—direct-injection 3.0-liter V-6 with an electric motor mounted between it and the eight-speed automatic transmission. Total system output is 469 hp and 516 lb-ft, enough, says Audi, to get the Q8 Sport to 60 mph in less than 4.7 seconds, and to a top speed of 171 mph (275 km/h).