(Pocket-lint) - It may be a couple of inches shorter than the Audi Q7, but the incoming Audi Q8 sure has presence, with a more sculpted, coupe-style roofline. It's around 2 months since we went to Ingolstadt in Germany to see this thing in the flesh and it certainly sticks in the mind, with this shockingly good orange paint job (called Dragon Orange), available in addition to Dragon Blue and 10 other colours.
The back is slashed in half with a distinctive lightstrip we've seen on the Audi etron and it's certainly a bit of a departure from the sedate Q7 - naturally the Q8 replaces the Q7 at the top of Audi's SUV tree. As standard, it comes with adaptive suspension, 19-inch wheels, LED headlights, two-zone automatic air conditioning system and a full MMI multimedia system including the Audi connect key for Android phones and the virtual cockpit system with a customisable screen behind the steering wheel.
Sadly on this occasion we didn't get to drive this epic vehicle although we did get to climb in and out several times, sit in every seat, lie in the vast boot space and look at it from every conceivable angle. It might be slightly shorter than the Q7, but it's also slightly wider, with accented wheel arches that Audi says are designed to hark back to the days of the original Audi Quattro (Audi calls the large wheel arches "blisters", which doesn't sound that nice to us to be honest).
The coupe-style look is helped by frameless doors; the roofline stretches low right to the rear of the vehicle which has a large roof spoiler.
Naturally this large SUV features all of the top end Audi interior accoutrements straight out of the A8, but mounted on a vast dashboard. Make no mistake, this 5m long car is impressive both inside and out with plenty of space for five people. It's loaded with technology with the futuristic interior ditching most of the buttons and embracing the touchscreen tech we've seen on other recent Audis.
The vehicle has clearly been designed to carry families and others with lots of stuff; there are plenty of storage areas in the vehicle while the luggage compartment holds 605 litres as standard, or a massive 1,755 litres with the rear seatbacks folded down; that’s around 70 litres more than the space in an Audi A6 Avant.
The Q8 is powered by a mild hybrid 3.0 TDI and there’s permanent Quattro all-wheel drive as you'd expect. There's a high ground clearance of 25cm so the Q8 can easily take to the dirt, though how many of them will actually go offroad is, as ever, something of an unknown with a high price tag certain (we've not got any info on just how much yet, but it won't be cheap). The "mild hybrid" part refers to a regeneration system that powers certain electrical elements of the car, bringing efficiencies, but not going as far as a traditional hybrid.
There are also numerous driver assistance systems as you’d expect from every premium Audi, available across four different packages depending on what you want. Adaptive cruise assist is one of the standout features including systems to help the driver with accelerating, braking, maintaining speed, keeping distance and in traffic including lane assist and sideways vehicle detection. There’s also a clever 360 degree view that uses four cameras (front, back, left, right) to composite an image as if you were looking at the vehicle from above. It's very much the embodiment of the "technik" from Audi's tagline.
First drives are likely to be later in June 2018, and we’re certainly looking forward to getting it out on the roads and seeing how it compares to something like the BMW X6.
We’ll bring you that full Audi Q8 review and pricing when we can – this sporty SUV will be available in July 2018.