32 degrees, 70 percent humidity, continuous rain, monsoon – and damn humid, if I may say. I am currently in what is probably the fastest growing metropolis in the world. Shenzhen is among the Chinese cities that was initially planned on a rice board. Almost everyone has heard of these mass settlements, but only a few Europeans have actually seen them. This may as well be the introduction of a documentary hosted by Morgan Freeman, and I can almost hear his deep, mysterious voice resonating in my head. While the city brings about questions over questions, one thing is for sure: 40 years ago, 30,000 people lived here. Today, about 23 million people supposedly live in this city, although most the time they are either working or are stuck in traffic jams.
Why Audi is presenting its first SUV Coupé in Shenzhen
The Q8 celebrated its world premiere at the Audi Brand Summit 2018. The rising world metropolis Shenzhen in China served as the location. Why this was the perfect location for the introduction of the SUV in a coupe design? We will take a closer look...
High-rise buildings are sprouting from the ground like chanterelles after a rainy summer night in Shenzhen. One can almost observe the mushrooms, but the houses grow almost overnight. The ideal location for young companies with a common interest: Growth. Organic. This is China’s Silicon Valley. Only bigger. A lot bigger! And even tougher. In the USA, the heroes of modern times are Amazon, Tesla, Facebook, WhatsApp or Google. The protagonists in the Chinese metropolis are Huawei, Tencent (WeChat) or DJI. All former startups who made it out of the role of the hopeful underdog company to one with a unique size. They have long since become “too-big-to-fail”. The new world seems to know no boundaries. An example of this is Apple, who has its iPhone manufactured by the Taiwanese company Foxconn in Shenzhen (Foxconn City) with around 300,000 employees. But also, Audi is researching the mobility of tomorrow together with Huawei.
The Audi Q8 in Shenzhen
Shenzhen, in any case, seems to be the ideal place for Audi to introduce the youngest member of the holy Q family. Not only because established global players work with resident companies and thereby rely on tight technology transfer and communication, but also because China is likely to become the main sales market for the 4.99-meter-long SUV Coupé. The Q8 may be interpreted as a high-level approach to Audi’s SUV segment with sloping roofline. And, as is the tradition with the brand with the Four Rings in the debut of new segments, they observed the competition, until they finally offered a model that should make the competition shudder of fear.
With the increase of the Audi internal SUV index – to (Q)-8, it seems reasonable to assume that “the new car” will exceed the Q7 in all dimensions. Far from it, the opposite is the case. Although both models are based on the MLB Evo platform, on that the VW Touareg, Porsche Cayenne, Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus are also built, the Q8 is four centimeters flatter and seven centimeters shorter than the Q7, but that certainly does not make it a wimp. With an extravagant design around the huge octagonal single frame grille, two meters wide and at least 19-inch flaps, the Q8 looks bigger and more exciting than the Q7. It seems picture perfect for the market in the Middle Kingdom, which has a strong preference for everything that is XXL. Here, even more than elsewhere, a large car stands for (financial) potency and power. Probably also because parking here is a practically an investment.
Back to the future with the Audi Q8?
When designing the new model, one cannot accuse the designers in Ingolstadt of not being able to sufficiently set the new model apart from the other “Qs” with its frameless panes. With its sharpened D-pillar, the Q8 wants to be the dynamic founder of a new design line for the Audi SUVs. You will probably see the new line on the new version of the compact Q3 that will present itself optically self-confident in 2018 (in a new generation). Reason enough to take a closer look at the design elements of the Q8. Chief designer Marc Lichte wants to borrow elements from the formal language of the UR-Quattro from the year 1980. Edged structures flow into the round Q8 ensemble. The widely issued wheel arches should give a visual indication of the standard four-wheel drive of the Q8. A highlight next to the single frame are the below darkened, two-part LED matrix floodlights. Just like the Quattro Coupé, the LED taillights are colored black. Characteristic is the wide LED light strip at the rear that similarly carries the A8. Probably one aspect: Chinese love big lights. The Q8 light show welcomes and farewells its user as well. Nihau!
Not only the exterior is state-of-the-art. In regard to the interior of the car, Audi has spoilt us once again. As has been the case for some time now, Audi is and will remain the same when it comes to material selection and processing quality. Just great. Not surprisingly, there is opulent space on the front seats. New here are the fabulously comfortable S-Line sports seats with the integrated headrest and good lateral support. They cool, warm or massage the buttocks and back of the pilot and co-pilot. A surprisingly feudal feeling of space awaits the “backbenchers”. And despite the sloping roof line, the headroom is large and neck-friendly. The bench can not only be pushed 10 centimeters forward, but can also be folded almost horizontally. The angle of the backrests can be adjusted. This results in a solid boot volume of 605 to 1,755 liters.
The completely new interior architecture shows that Audi is not resting on its laurels. The operating concept was derived from the A8. Its modernity, variety in operation and technical innovation sets standards. The “Active Info Display” behind the steering wheel immediately catches the driver’s eye. However, the highlights are enthroned on two levels in the center console. The upper 10.1-inch screen is used as an infotainment system, while the lower 8.6-inch display is responsible for controlling the air conditioning functions. The new operating concept relies on touches that provide haptic feedback. Audi promises that when it comes to connectivity with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, enhanced voice control, personalization and artificial swarm intelligence á la Car-to-X online communication, all your wishes will come true. Up to 39 assistance systems can be selected; including night vision system and trailer assistant. What hardly anyone in China will forget when configuring the Q8 – everyone who has been here will guess – the traffic jam assistant. In Shenzhen and other Chinese mega-cities, it is a must-have.
What propels the giant?
The 2.1-ton dead weight of the Audi Q8 wants to get going. Its sleek cW value of 0.34 has a positive effect. Small but nice: The well-known mild hybrid technology is installed around the 48-volt vehicle electric system also has a positive effect on dynamics and fuel consumption. A belt starter generator and a lithium-ion battery at the rear of the car ensures that customers benefit from an expansion of the start-stop system. The Q8 rolls out at 22 kilometers per hour. If the driver takes his foot off the accelerator pedal between 55 and 160 km/h, this action will save up to 0.7 litres of fuel per 100 kilometers, Audi says. Even laymen can see from the fact that the engineers have made every effort to let this large SUV that comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-edge drive on the road as a standard feature, travel economically. We are curious whether the Q8 will be able to surpass the driving dynamics of the new Touareg. It’s a fact: Air suspension is as much an option for the Q8 as all-wheel steering. When parking, it should allow the rear wheels to turn in the opposite direction by up to five degrees. At high speeds, it steers by up to 2.5 degrees, which, in conjunction with roll compensation, significantly increases tracking stability.
When the 50 TDI is launched on the market, it will come with a 286 hp engine with three litres displacement and an SCR catalytic converter for exhaust cleaning. The powerful engine drives the SUV Coupé up to 100 km/h in 6.3 seconds and at 232 km/h the physical acceleration limit is reached. Chinese car buyers, however, are likely to find a plug-in hybrid drive that is very popular there and much more exciting. And there, the Q8 seems to be made for the Chinese market.
The most advanced of its class
Although the Q8 is shorter and flatter than the Q7, it looks bolder. What’s certain is that there are currently only two competitors for the Q8 in the segment of large luxury SUV coupés. Compared to the Mercedes GLE and BMW X6, the Q8 should currently have the lead. Because it is currently the most modern, cheapest and visually the most progressive of its kind. And it’s grandiosely tall. Or as economic theory would say: Too big to fail. And then the circle closes to the city and the country in that it was presented. A country with more than a billion inhabitants, in that a wealthy middle class has been forming for some time. Every second customer buys his first car here. And this should be as big as possible. That is why the A8 L, the A6 L and soon the Q5 L are already enjoying great popularity in China. Perhaps this can be explained by the fact that in a country where private space is scarce, the car can hardly be large enough as a placeholder.
The Audi Q8 combines the elegance of a four-door luxury coupé with the practical versatility of a large SUV. Richly equipped, comprehensively connected and tough enough for off-road duty, it is a confident companion for business and leisure. The Audi Q8 launches on the European market in the third quarter of 2018.Read more
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