Spy Photos

Sporty variant of flagship SUV could be a hybrid

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The Audi Q8 is set to begin production this year in Bratislava, Slovakia. We have yet to see the brand’s flagship SUV in production guise, but the automaker is already working on a hotter SQ8 variant, as these spy shots show.

Like the Q8 concept and other Q8 prototypes we’ve seen, this mule features a fastback roofline, sleek headlights, and Audi’s distinctive grille shape. What gives this away as the sportier trim are the quad tailpipes poking out below the rear bumper. The SQ8 is rumored to get a performance hybrid drivetrain comprised of Audi’s already-potent turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 and an electric motor, a combination making as much as 470 hp. Curiously, the prototype was seen testing with a Porsche Macan, which is one size class down from the Q8. We can’t say for sure, but perhaps it was there as a handling benchmark.

The Q8 and SQ8 will ride on the same MLB architecture that underpins the three-row Q7. Unlike that model, however, the Q8 will have seating for just four to five passengers, sparing would-be third row riders from the reduced headroom imposed by the coupe-like roofline and giving second-row passengers the legroom expected of a flagship SUV. The Q8 will challenge other fastback SUVs such as the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe and BMW X6 when it arrives later this year. In addition to the Q8, Audi announced a smaller Q4 fastback for 2019.

We should learn more about the Q8 and SQ8 as the auto show season progresses. In the meantime, check out the spy shots in the gallery below.

Photo source: CarPix

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