The Audi SQ8 has arrived, adding a performance variant to the mainstream Q8 line. This follows the SQ7 in employing a diesel powertrain for a higher-performance version, here featuring a 4.0 litre biturbo V8 diesel with 435 hp and 900 Nm of torque from 1,000 rpm. In terms of performance, the 0-100 km/h sprint is elapsed in 4.8 seconds while top speed is an electronically governed 250 km/h.

The diesel V8 powertrain is augmented by a 48V electrical system which feeds an electric-powered compressor to support the two conventional turbochargers, for virtually lag-free performance.

This also supports pure electric driving, courtesy of a belt alternator starter (BAS) that is connected to the crankshaft, and enables the SQ8 to coast for up to 40 seconds between 55 km/h and 160 km/h. Drive is sent to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission, while a sport differential apportions torque between the rear wheels as necessary when cornering.

Based on the same MLB Evo platform as its SQ7 sibling, the SQ8’s running gear also features adaptive air suspension, which offers adjustment of ride height within a range of 90 mm, and the 48V architecture also supports electromechanical roll stabilisation via electric motors. Rolling stock is comprised of 21-inch wheels as standard, while 22-inch items are optionally available; carbon-ceramic brakes are standard.

A new front grille distinguishes the SQ8 from the more mainstream variants, where a matte silver finish is applied to the singleframe grille, while the front bumper gains revised inlets. The rear end gets a matte black diffuser alongside quad exhaust outlets; a black styling package will be offered for personalisation.

The SQ8 interior varies slightly from that of the standard Q8 range, here offering a mix of leather and alcantara with tell-tale ‘S’ logos, featuring on the steering wheel and on the seats. Stainless steel is used for the pedals and footrest, while aluminium inlays along the door sills are part of standard SQ8 fare. Further along, carbon-fibre trim and contrast stitching can also be specified.

Infotainment in the SQ8, as in the Q8, is taken care of by a dual touchscreen setup along the centre console stack, while driver instrumentation is handled by the Audi Virtual Cockpit digital instrument panel. Here, the driver’s display gets S model-specific graphics.

Pricing has yet to be revealed, though the top SQ8 is expected to cost more than the top of the standard range 55 TFSI variant, which is listed at £80,815 (RM422,762) in the UK. In Malaysia, the Audi Q8 comes in petrol 3.0 TFSI guise, where a 3.0 litre turbo V5 petrol produces 340 hp from 5,200-6,400 rpm and 500 Nm of torque from 1,370-4,500 rpm.