First, if you’re drinking coffee or something and just did a panicked spit-take when you saw the all-new 2019 Audi Q8 up there, I apologize. Unfortunately, there’s not much we can do about it. Audi’s press release claims this is the “new face of the Q family,” so unless you work with deep-sea angler fish for a living and have become de-sensitized, Audi’s big SUVs will likely cause you alarm.
Audi’s press release says “The Audi Q8 combines the elegance of a four-door luxury coupé with the practical versatility of a large SUV,” which tells us several things. First, Audi doesn’t know what a ‘coupé’ is, and that this thing is big, as in about 16 and a half feet long. It’s a full three-row SUV, and will be full of all the leather and electronics and premium crap you’d expect.
But it’s the exterior design that we need to discuss now. Audi calls their new grille “the imposing Singleframe,” and they also describe the look like this:
“The brawny radiator grille stands upright and, together with the spoiler that has been drawn toward the front and the large, highly contoured air inlets, emphasizes the self-confident look. The elegantly sloping roofline terminates in gently inclined D-pillars and rests against the quattro blisters above the wheel arches, which house up to 22-inch wheels. Numerous details hint at the design of the original quattro. Strong contours and athletically tight surfaces convey a feeling of power, sophistication and the special dynamics of the permanent all-wheel drive. The spoiler, wheel arch trims, door trim strips and diffuser are in a contrasting color, to further emphasize the off-road look.”
Marketing-bullshit aside, this thing is deeply, alarmingly ugly, at least in its face, which I think only a mother angler fish could love. The wide-spaced grille bars give the front end a crude, brutal look, and the large and quite obviously fake vents flanking the lower corners aren’t doing any favors, either.
Plus, the driver-assist system’s radar unit and other sensor packages are jammed in that gaping grille in a pretty clumsy way, too. It’s a mess.
The headlamps have interesting hash-like DRLs, which provide a nice textural element, but the black plastic filler panels below the light units, while I think were intended to give a tough, off-road capable look, just feel sort of tacked-on. This front end is a mess; so much going on, and the overall result looks like the Q8 is a wrathful, miserable beast who wants nothing to do with you or your stupid errands.
The rest of the car is a bit better; I think the haunch-like rear quarter is actually quite nice, and the taillight treatment is strong. The rest of the car has Audi’s traditional crisp, handsome and somewhat restrained look, which generally works.
Still, that face. I can’t get past that ugly mug. If this is to be the look of all of the new Audi Q series, I guess I’ll have to train myself out of doing a spit-take every time one shows up in the rear-view mirror.