Audi confirms Q8 is coming

Car maker’s super-SUV will be its range topper

Audi boss Rupert Stadler has confirmed what we've long suspected – that the company is working on a super-SUV, badged Q8, to sit at the very top of the Audi model pile.

The decision is driven by the fact that demand for big, luxurious SUVs is growing significantly, particularly in China, the US and the Middle East.

Speaking to Bloomberg News, Stadler said that Audi was "working heavily on this project, it would strengthen the brand. I'm convinced we need the car by 2020."

That year is the deadline Audi has set itself to become the global number one luxury car seller, and it faces stiff competition from BMW and Mercedes in this aim.

If large, luxury SUVs are to be the weapon of choice in this battle’s final decision then Audi certainly won’t have it all its own way. BMW has said it will build an X7 model based on the current X5, that will be bigger and more sybaritic than anything else in its range.

There are still rumours that this model could lead to a Rolls-Royce SUV too, something that the venerable British brand keeps mentioning, without ever actually confirming that it has firm plans in that direction.

Internal competition

Mercedes isn't going to be hanging about in this regard either, with CEO Dieter Zetsche confirming recently that a super-luxury Mercedes-Maybach SUV will be created, based on the next-generation GL-Class SUV, which will be badged GLS. The Maybach-badged model will sit alongside the recently-launched Maybach version of the S-Class.

Audi will also face internal competition from its brother brands within the VW group. Porsche's new Cayenne is already under development, while Bentley will this year finally reveal its own oft-controversial SUV, which we now know will be called Bentyaga.

Lamborghini is still officially umming and ahhing about its own Urus SUV, but given the global demand there seems little doubt that it will eventually accede to its customers' wishes.

Meanwhile, Land Rover's Range Rover continues to dominate the luxury SUV market, while Jeep is planning its own luxury model dubbed Grand Wagoneer.

The Q8 will platform share with the new-generation Q7, and will likely feature both a plug-in hybrid drivetrain and a pure-electric e-Tron model, as well as conventional diesel and petrol powerplants.

The only question that remains is whether it will be a big and tall SUV, or a chopped-roof coupe model. The space in the Audi range for a BMW X6-rivalling Q6 suggests it will be the former.