Expected to keep the same basic dimensions as the current model, the new Audi Q7 should be some 400kg lighter when the second-generation seven-seater reaches markets in 2015.
Sharing platforms with the new Volkswagen Touareg and Porsche Cayenne, as well as the upcoming Bentley SUV, the more sharply styled Q7 is believed to be based on an extended-wheelbase version of the architecture.
While slightly pixelated, the latest spy shots show a heavily camouflaged test car with a front end highlighted by LED daytime running lights, a revised grille and lower air intakes.
At the rear, harder edges join a more upright tailgate and new LED tail-lights.
While still unconfirmed, an array of turbo-diesel and supercharged V6 engines are again thought to find their way between the strut tops.
The Q7 e-tron will be the largest model to take advantage of Audi's hybrid technology, following in the smaller footsteps of the A1 e-tron concept and A3 e-tron production car – the latter planned to arrive in Australia next year.
Though Doyle said he “couldn’t answer” why Audi’s full-size SUV would be released in 2015 when its near-identical Volkswagen Group siblings embraced their respective new-generation models last year, Motor Trend reports an 'emergency redesign' is to blame.
The publication reports the Q7 is getting the redesign as the original styling was deemed “too brutal and ostentatious” by Audi management.
Currently starting at $90,000, the first-generation Audi Q7 has been on sale in Australia since 2006, with a facelift providing a refreshed look from 2009 onwards.