THE room at the top of the SUV pile, read luxury segment, is getting increasingly crowded by the day.
More and more automakers are scrambling their resources to snatch a slice of this ultra-lucrative market segment.
The new favourite car class of one-percenters, replacing the traditional three-box luxury sedan, can expect an Audi entrant by the end of the decade.
“It would strengthen the brand. I’m convinced we need the car (the Q8) by 2020.” Audi CEO Rupert Stadler says.
The Q8 apparently is going to be Audi’s rival to take on the likes of the Mercedes-Benz GL, the Range Rover, the upcoming BMW X7, and other recent concepts greenlighted for production.
This juicy list includes the Bentley EXP 9 F (which we now know will be called the Bentayga) and Lamborghini Urus.
Rolls Royce, having previously been reluctant to go down the SUV path for fear of eroding brand image, are expected to make a decision this year with CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös stating that his team are “making progress in mulling the plan”.
While that may sound like things are uncertain, he goes on to say that “many of our customers are already starting to ask me about that particular car”
A jacked-up Phantom? What an exciting prospect, maybe the Range Rover will finally see not one but two vehicles worthy of challenging its go-anywhere indomitability when the Q8 arrives, undoubtedly with Quattro all-wheel drive as standard.
Even with no official details of the Q8 having been released as of yet, a quick look at its competitors should paint a rough picture of what it needs to bring to the table in order to stand a fighting chance.
Within the Volkswagen Group itself it will face pseudo-sibling rivalry with the Bentley Bentayga with which it will likely share powertrains, and a nameplate like Bentley will be able to draw upon heritage and build quality as strong selling points.
The already imposing GL is tipped to receive a Maybach trim spec as did the the S600, bumping up its levels of luxury to match these undoubtedly impressive cars.
For Audi, arriving fashionably late to the party might just pay off. When you consider North American and Chinese markets on top of the usual Russian oligarchs and the insatiable Middle Eastern hunger for luxury anything, the automotive fruit is ripe for the picking.