Life is hard for car enthusiasts living in India. In most cases, children tend to lose their milk teeth by the time carmakers launch their latest or most recently updated model in the subcontinent. And usually, when they do manage to bring the very best of their models, there’s a catch with it. The latest arrival from Audi’s stable appears to be no different.
Audi has launched its newly crowned flagship SUV - the Q8 in India today. With the introductory price tag retailing at INR 1.33 crore, this becomes the most expensive SUV the brand with the four rings can offer in India. Too excited to know the catch? Have patience…….or should you?
If you have that sort of money lying around your dressing table and your driveway seems devoured of an elegant-looking SUV, I suggest you stay overzealous. For initial safeguarding amidst the ongoing slowdown period, Audi has decided to bring the Q8 via the CBU route. And that leads us to the catch: only 200 units have been allocated for the Indian market. Sad!
Audi will be bringing the Q8 in the sole 55 TFSI guise. This implies, the SUV-coupe will be powered by a 3.0-litre V6 turbocharged petrol engine with a 48V mild-hybrid system putting out 340hp and 500Nm of torques. The powertrain will be mated to an eight-speed DCT automatic gearbox, sending power to all four wheels. This allows the 2.1-tonne SUV to crack the ton from a standstill in under six seconds. If diesel is your preferred juice, you’ll have to wait it out as Audi currently remains in two minds on bringing a BS-VI ready diesel iteration yet.
If its driving pleasure for BMW, comfort for Mercedes, then Audi definitely seems to be a stalwart in the technology department. And this Q8 doesn’t shy away from flaunting all that gadgetry. Resembling the cabin found in the updated A6, the SUV-coupe carries the same dual touchscreen layout. While the upper 10-inch screen houses all the infotainment controls, the lower 8.1-inch displays the air conditioning controls.
The central air-vents have been made to sit flush with the dashboard. And the gear-lever seems to be lifted straight from an Airbus aircraft. Both, along with the dual-screen setup, showcases a minimalist approach towards the cabin - sleek, shiny and free from the usual button-festival. Although altering infotainment settings while driving means taking your eyes off the road more often, which might not be suggested especially with the driving usually seen on Indian roads. Therefore, it is advisable to make full use of Audi’s virtual cockpit via the steering-mounted controls, which lets you access a host of features from the infotainment unit.
The concept of alternatives or rather choices doesn’t end there as Audi is offering the Q8 with as many as 54 exterior colour options, 11 interior trims, and 9 wooden inlays. Adding on to that, the buyer will have to scratch his head over the usual super-long list of features-to-be-equipped customisation provided by Audi.
As for the vehicle itself, the Q8 commands street presence. That muscular shoulder line, massive distinctive front grille and edge headlights will surely get the surrounding vehicles to take notice. Those 21-inch alloy wheels might startle the three-wheelers to back off a little as well. But having been acquainted with these daredevil drivers myself, I suspect the Q8’s string of safety tech including eight airbags, 360-degree camera, Audi Park Assist and Electronic Stabilization Program will have to double-time on Indian roads.
Audi hasn’t launched this product to get its cash-registers ringing. Instead, it has smartly tried to cater to one of those ultra-luxury segments which have managed to stay strong throughout silently. Moreover, after regularly sharing screen space with the Avengers and being limited to just 200, Audi is expected to see quite a few hands being stretched for one of these.
The competition comprising the likes of the BMW X6, Range Rover Sport and Porsche’s Cayenne Coupe might be a little worried now. I’m expecting sophisticated chaos at Audi showrooms now. Oh, and did I mention it came with frameless doors?!