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A development prototype of the next-generation Audi Q7 has been spotted at the Nürburgring by our European spy photographers. The new SUV is expected to be launched as early as later this year – possibly at the Paris Motor Show in September – despite development reportedly being delayed due to last-minute styling changes to dial back the aggression to better suit the target consumers’ tastes.

From the pictures, the next Q7 looks set to adopt Audi’s new rectilinear design direction first seen on the new TT, featuring the company’s trapezoidal single-frame grille as well as razor-sharp head- and tail lights. Like the other large SUVs in the VW Group portfolio, the Volkswagen Touareg and the Porsche Cayenne, the Q7’s wing mirrors are now mounted on the door panels themselves, presumably for less wind noise.

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Below the Audi-specific bodywork, the Q7 is set to skip the shared SUV platform currently utilised by the Touareg and Cayenne in favour of an updated version of the VW Group’s modular MLB architecture for longitudinal layouts – dubbed MLB Evo – which the next generation of the other SUVs will also migrate to. A crash diet means the Q7 is likely to lose more than 300 kg.

Engine choices will include Audi’s usual range of six- and eight-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, but the Q7 could also gain a plug-in e-tron hybrid model and even a 2.0 litre four-cylinder diesel engine.