Following the Detroit debut of the Audi Q8 concept, the Ingolstadt-based automaker has sent its Q8 test mules out for testing, as seen in our spy images here. The test mule follows the concept in having a sleeker roofline for a coupe-like profile a la BMW X6 and Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe.

Outwardly, the concept’s massive and massively imposing Singleframe grille seems to have been toned down somewhat, but remains a sizeable item on the Q8’s fascia. As is normally expected in the transition from concept to production, the Q8 mule also smoothens the concept’s deeply sculpted, large air intakes at each corner, while the smaller inlets beneath each headlamp appear to be covered on this test mule.

Along its sides, the Q8 test mule features conventional door handles in addition to the otherwise largely unaltered sculpting of the doors, while also appearing to retain the darkened B- and C-pillars for that almost-floating roof look. Around the back, the Q8 mule does away with the concept’s vents in place of a more conventional rear panel and bumper sculpting.

While the Q8 concept’s interior flamboyance is also likely to be scaled back for production feasibility, its aim of offering “opulent spaciousness for four persons and their large suitcases” is likely to be retained, in line with its flagship aspirations.

Whether or not the concept’s “black panel” integration of central control and display surfaces will make it to production remains to be seen, however the latest developments in Audi’s MMI infotainment and TFT instrument displays can be expected to feature in the production Q8.

In the background of some of these spy photos, a Volvo XC90 and a BMW 7 Series are both seen wearing Ingolstadt-registered plates whilst in convoy with the Q8 mule and accompanying Q7, possibly hinting at their use for certain benchmarking purposes.

The Audi Q8 is expected to go on sale in 2018, with the Q7’s platform and with it, the Q7’s range of engines as well. A notable, possible addition to that range is the 4.0 litre, twin-turbocharged V8 engine for a range-topping RS Q8 variant, rumoured to deliver over 600 hp.

Our spy sources were informed that this is the unit that will also power the Lamborghini Urus, contrary to earlier reports that the Lambo SUV engine will be bespoke for Sant’Agata’s ‘one car, one engine’ ethos.