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The Audi Q8 sport concept is faster, greener and more orange

New paint job, new drive gubbins for Audi’s hulking X6 rival

The Audi Q8 concept has a suntan and a new name. This is the Q8 sport.

You first met the Q8 coupe-SUV at the Detroit motor show in January 2017. Then, it was painted baby blue and sported a 3.0-litre turbo V6 and electric motor combo developing a total of 444bhp and 516lb ft. Pathetic figures, apparently. They looked pretty chunky to us, especially when the 37-mile e-range and 5.4sec 0-62mph dash were factored in.

Audi has decided that simply wasn’t quick enough for its four-door, chopped-roof swipe at the BMW X6 and Mercedes GLE Coupe, so, it’s got busy with the spanners and turned up the wick for the Q8 sport.

Borrowing the electrically driven compressor trick from the freakishly fast Audi SQ7, the Q8 sport’s 3.0-litre bi-turbo V6 has been boosted to 444bhp on its own, with little-to-no turbo-lag thanks to the motorised fan effect always spinning the turbos. What’s more, the starter-generator that Audi’s crammed between the crankshaft and gearbox can recuperate otherwise wasted energy on the overrun.

Once you’ve gathered up enough latent energy, this can be deployed as a boost function, offering an extra 125lb ft of torque and helping push the Q8 sport from 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds. That’s 0.7sec faster than the previous Q8 concept, and not far off TTS pace – in a luxury uber-tank.

Meanwhile, taking the strain off the V6 in more relaxed driving obviously has efficiency benefits, with Audi recording a 25g/km drop in CO2 emissions, and a potential 745-mile fuel range. That’d get you from London to Marseille without a toilet break, or take you from New York to Chicago (with a tailwind).

The clever bit is the car’s electronic brain is always doing the arithmetic to make sure it’s working as efficiently as possible, boosting, regenerating and coasting for maximum range, right up until you nail the fun pedal and toast a Porsche Cayman for fun.

And the very best news is this: we’re promised this isn’t a concept car party piece. Audi chairman Rupert Stadler is adamant this boost-then-coast idea is coming to showroom models, saying: “The drive system of the Audi Q8 sport concept is a major step towards optimising efficiency and sustainability in large-volume series production. The combination of mild hybrid technology and a TFSI engine sets a new benchmark for the synthesis of electromobility and combustion engines. In the future, this combination will be used in many Audi models.”

So, it’s a turbo V6 with energy regen and e-boost. Perhaps this is the closest you’ll be able to get to Formula One powertrain experiences in an SUV…

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