The concept model presages a new flagship model in the Audi SUV range designed to look sportier than the more conventional Q7 family hauler, and with its bold design it certainly stands apart from that highly practical vehicle.
It has been designed to appeal less to parents with a big litter and more to those who want to stand out from the SUV crowd, with – dare we say it – a coupe-style roofline that, while not as overt as a BMW X6 or Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe, still has a bit of rake to it, while the front features a bold six-bar vertical grille treatment and matrix laser headlights.
"The Audi Q8 concept is a full-size SUV, even more luxurious than any Audi SUV that has come before," said Dietmar Voggenreiter, Audi board member for sales and marketing. "You'll hardly find a car that is more luxurious. It combines the emotional elegance of a coupe with all the practicality of an SUV.
"The production version of the Audi Q8 will be launched next year. It will open up a whole new segment to us. Our customers demand more models like this from us," said Voggenreiter.
It measures 5.02 metres long, 2.04m wide, 1.70m tall and rides on a 3.00m-long wheelbase, with the concept model powered by a plug-in hybrid system that teams a 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine (with 245kW of power and 500Nm of torque) to a 17.9kWh lithium-ion battery pack and electric motor.
According to Audi, the Q8 is said to offer a combined peak power of 330kW and peak torque of 700Nm, with a top speed of 250km/h and a 0-100km/h time of 5.4 seconds. Its fuel consumption is claimed to be pretty low – just 2.3 litres per 100 kilometres – but that's partly because of the car's electric range of 60km. The range of the car is 1000km, the brand claims, and charging takes 2.5 hours on a 7.2kW charger.
Inside there are four seats – it's supposed to be sporty, after all – and Audi reckons there's enough head and shoulder room for full-sized adults, and the boot is a fairly handy 630 litres.
But the bigger talking point is up front, where there's a new type of "contact analogue" head-up display system that is an application of augmented reality, the brand claims. It will display important information in front of the driver in their field of view, "seemingly placing them in the real environment".
Audi's virtual cockpit remains at 12.3 inches in size, but the resolution is now higher (1920 x 720 pixels), and there's also a new type of touchscreen media system across the dashboard, with the number of buttons, switches and levers reduced to make it look cleaner and neater.
"The MMI monitor in the centre of the dashboard is used to control the infotainment system and for vehicle settings," the company claims. "A display for the climate control system is integrated into the diagonal section of the centre console.
"If the sensors in the seat detect a front-seat passenger, the touchscreen displays their climate control settings. This function is not available when the driver is traveling alone. Another touchscreen is reserved for the lighting functions."
According to Voggenreiter, the tech isn't daydream stuff – it will debut in the all-new Audi A8 that will debut in 2017, ahead of the production version of the Q8.
The fact the car was unveiled at the 2017 Detroit motor show isn't a coincidence: Audi of America CEO Scott Keogh said at the event SUV sales make up 54 per cent of sales in the luxury segment in 2016.
Click the Photos tab above for more images of the Audi Q8 concept.