Audi Q8 Sport Concept gets Android infotainment at Google I/O

New Audi Q8 Sport Concept made its debut at Geneva in March, but is now showing off a new Android infotainment system in Silicone Valley

Audi has presented what it believes could be the next step in smartphone integration for your car – an infotainment setup powered completely by the Android operating system, presented on the Q8 Sport Concept revealed earlier this year at the Geneva Motor Show

Google’s Android system has already staked its claim to a slice of the motor industry with Android Auto – a smartphone mirror link system similar to Apple CarPlay

Now though, Audi has partnered with Google at the technology giant’s annual I/O summit to present a Q8 Sport Concept with a cockpit completely powered by the software, with seamlessly integrated apps such as Google Maps, Spotify and Google Assistant. All of the information can be displayed right in front of the driver too, as the Virtual Cockpit Display is also integrated into the Android setup.

More than 1.4 billion smartphone owners use a handset with Android, so Audi believes that using the software to build in-car infotainment systems has enormous potential. 

Audi Q8 Sport Concept previews hot new SQ8 SUV

The Q8 will go into production next year, but the Sport Concept differs from its Detroit revealed sibling with a more potent hybrid powertrain and a racier, more aerodynamic bodykit. 

We’ve known about Audi’s plans for a hot Q8 for a few months now. The company very recently applied to trademark the SQ8 name, and when asked about the SQ8 in Detroit in January, Audi’s board member for sales and marketing, Dietmar Voggenreiter said, “That’s something I would like to do.” 

It makes use of a 3.0-litre TFSI six-cylinder motor developing 470bhp, with 700Nm of torque to boot. The TFSI engine produces 444bhp on its own, and is paired with a more powerful 20kW electric motor plus an electronic compressor to reduce turbo lag. Audi claims this car is capable of 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 171mph. 

At the front, the octagonal grille is now a black honeycomb affair with a contrasting surround, flanked by larger air intakes. A new body coloured blade pokes out from underneath the front bumper too. At the back, an aluminium and carbon-fibre diffuser finds its place alongside two large oval shaped exhaust tips.

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The flagship SUV will sit above the Audi Q7, and will act as a rival the likes of the BMW X6Mercedes GLE Coupe, and the Range Rover. Earlier this year at Detroit, had the change look around the first, slightly tamer Q8 concept in-depth. 

It shares a similar footprint to the current Q7 – it’s over five metres long and has a wheelbase of three metres – but is 40mm lower. A sloping roofline and tapered rear end mean the concept only has four seats, however the production version is expected to be available with a five-seat layout. The Q8 concept has a 630-litre boot. 

Showcased as a plug-in hybrid e-tron model, the standard Q8 concept – like the sport concept - is powered by a 3.0-litre TFSI engine paired with an electric motor, which runs from a 17.9kWh lithium-ion battery. The powertrain develops a combined 438bhp and 700Nm of torque. 

Audi claims 0-62mph takes 5.4 seconds and the car has a top speed of 155mph, while it emits 53g/km of CO2. Power is delivered via an eight-speed automatic gearbox and quattro four-wheel drive. 

There’s a good chance the petrol-electric powertrain will be made available in the production model, because Audi says: “Their use in the study demonstrates their importance once again.” On electric power alone, the Q8 concept can travel up to 37 miles, and the lithium-ion battery takes two and a half hours to fully recharge.

The concept adopts a wider version of Audi’s single-frame octagonal grille, which is flanked by new matrix LED headlamps. The Q8 concept rides on 23-inch alloy wheels and has carbon-ceramic brakes.

At the back, the LED lights stretch across the width of the concept; Audi says this will be a signature on future e-tron models. Inside, the brand has kitted out the Q8 concept with a new wraparound dash and a raft of new tech. 

According to official details, Audi’s 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit display offers more functionality and a higher resolution. A new ‘control and display concept’ replaces a host of buttons with digital touchscreens on the dashboard and centre console. 

Get all the latest from the 2017 Geneva Motor Show right here...

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