The Audi Q8 has taken another step towards production reality today, with the German premium marque handing down a pair of preview sketches ahead of a Detroit motor show unveiling next month.
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For now, Detroit's Q8 debut will be of a "near-production" concept only, but it marks the first proper look at the big new luxury SUV since the company first confirmed its coming way back in late 2014.

Audi says the Q8 will "unlock a new segment for the full-size category" and, while it will undoubtedly be larger than the already sizeable Q7, it remains to be seen if the Q8 will outdo the Mercedes-Benz GLS.

As a point of comparison, the Q7 rides on a 2994mm wheelbase and measures a mighty 5052mm long, but the GLS is evening longer at 3075mm (wheelbase) and 5120mm (overall).


Perhaps the biggest talking point here though is the Q8 concept's face, which shows a much wider and somehow even bolder grille than any current Audi model, although it is otherwise familiar in the way it reaches out to merge with the headlights.

“With the Audi Q8 concept, we have created a new spearhead within our Q model line. Its design strongly evokes sportiness and prestige,” said Audi design chief, Marc Lichte, in the accompanying release.

“What’s more, we believe an important aspect of this showcar is that it offers a spacious interior with four equally comfortable seats, even with the flat roof line.”

Lichte's comments bring further confirmation that the Q8, if only as one particular variant, will be offered in a four-seat capacity - no doubt intended to rival the opulent rear spaces offered by Mercedes-Benz's Maybach models and the new Volvo XC90 Excellence - if not the next-level Bentley Bentayga (which may prove to be related under the skin) and upcoming Rolls-Royce 'Cullinan'.

Watch for more on the Q8 to be revealed in the weeks ahead.