What's the news?
Audi has teed up two new product lines and a fresh model for the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), meaning we've got three things to tell you about here - and they are the Q8 Concept large SUV, a new SQ5 high-performance range-topper for the mid-sized MkII off-roader, and the first appearance in the metal of the Cabriolet versions of the A5/S5 family, which we told you about in early November.
Let's start with the Q8, which is described as combining the 'typical spaciousness of an SUV with the emotional styling of a coupe'. That is to say, it's presumably fine to peg this as the coupe version of the existing Q7, rather like the BMW X6 is the coupe X5, or the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe is the, er... coupe sibling to the GLC.
But the Q8, which isn't named after one of the five founding members of OPEC, is also said to preview Audi's forthcoming design direction. Bold references are made to the original Ur-quattro from the 1980s, specifically relating to those flat and wide C-pillars and the flared haunches over the wheels, while within it boasts a dashboard dominated by an enhanced Virtual Cockpit cluster and a contact analogue head-up display that is supplemented by intelligent, augmented reality technology.
Furthermore, the Q8 Concept has a plug-in hybrid drivetrain delivering 450hp and 700Nm, it boasts quattro all-wheel drive grip, the coupe-SUV sits on air suspension and it also possesses carbon ceramic brake discs all round. In diluted form, this will make production in 2018, so make a good note of its looks now for a strong indicator of the showroom Q8's appearance.
Over to the smaller Q5 SUV now, which morphed into its second generation during 2016. Well, Audi feels it needs a flagship and so it has revealed the new SQ5 - with the big news here being the switch from diesel to petrol power. The Mk1 SQ5 had a 3.0-litre twin-turbo diesel, good for 313hp and 650Nm, but that has been junked for the 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 TFSI unit as seen in the latest S5. That means peak power climbs to 354hp, although torque decreases to 500Nm - and, weirdly, that makes the new SQ5 slower and thirstier than the old one. It will achieve 8.3 litres/100km (34mpg) with 189g/km of CO2 emissions, while charging from 0-100km/h in 5.4 seconds and hitting a 250km/h limiter when flat out; by contrast, the old TDI could give back 6.8 litres/100km (41.5mpg) with 179g/km, while hitting 100km/h from rest in 5.1 seconds (it, too, was limited to 250km/h).
Nevertheless, the SQ5 is likely to be a big hit with people who like upmarket, pacey SUVs and it comes with an arsenal of technology and equipment that includes an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox, quattro all-wheel drive, an optional sport differential that can split torque between the rear wheels, standard-fit dynamic damper control, optional air suspension, S sport seats in Alcantara/leather, LED headlights, 20-inch alloy wheels and more. It will arrive in German dealerships in the summer, so expect it here sometime in the latter half of 2017.
As we've already given you the full run-down on the A5 and S5 Cabriolet lines, we won't go into huge detail here, suffice to say that NAIAS was the first time Audi has presented these four-seater open-tops publicly. However, we will quickly recap and say that we'll get three engines at launch - a 190hp four-pot TDI, a 218hp V6 TDI and the 354hp S5 - but that, at NAIAS, the 190hp petrol TFSI was shown, which is expected to join the ranks here in Ireland soon after launch.