Audi Q9 to be a proper three-row SUV for the U.S.: Report [Update]

Update: ‘Release date’ section updated.

In the U.S., full-size SUVs with three rows, such as the Mercedes GLS and BMW X7, are in high demand. So far, Audi has managed with a three-row seating option in its lower-segment Q7, but it is working on a proper competitor named Audi Q9 to take on the two flagship German SUVs, according to a report from Automotive News filed in 2021.

Design & Interior

It’s expected that the Audi Q9 will feature an exterior design that’s more aggressive and powerful-looking than the current Audi Q7. Expect an octagonal Singleframe grille, which has been the calling card of the upper-class Audi SUVs since the launch of the Q8, slim wedge-shaped headlamps connected to the Singleframe grille, and rear combination lamps connected by a narrow light strip.

Audi interior that is to inspire the Audi Q9
We expect inspiration to be drawn from the Q4 e-tron, but the Audi Q9’s dashboard could be spartan compared to the highly digital future Audi EVs. Image Source: Audi

Inside, expect familiarity with inspiration from new electric vehicles like the Q4 e-tron but features arranged in a traditional way. The Q9 is likely to offer three rows of seats in a standard 2+3+2 layout as well as an optional 2+2+2 layout. Audi would have to focus on electrification to reduce emissions and fuel consumption due to the larger dimensions and the load of the extra passengers or luggage in the third row.

Specifications

Platform

Audi hasn’t confirmed, but reports say that the Q9 will ride on the same platform as the Q5, Q7, and Q8 – MLB Evo or what Audi recently terms as the PPC (Premium Platform Combustion). The Q9 will likely be the largest SUV on this platform, larger than the Bentley Bentayga (201.8 inches). Rather than offering outright performance and uncompromising luxury like Bentley, Audi will likely concentrate on aspects like space and value.

Dimensions

A new large SUV was being tested by Audi in 2021, which was mistakenly referred to as the Audi Q9 in the media. It was actually a China-only SUV, the Audi Q6, which is based on the MQB platform and is slightly larger than the Q7 (5.1 meters long). A regional model, this isn’t related to the Audi Q6 e-tron (electric) that will be introduced in 2020.

Audi’s gas-powered Q9, with the U.S. market in mind, is likely to be much longer than the Q7, probably around 5.2 meters (204.7 in.). There are no signs that Audi intends to compete against the large Cadillac Escalade ESV, Lincoln Navigator L, or Jeep Grand Wagoneer L. American automakers dominate those segments, and even BMW and Mercedes-Benz have stayed away. Additionally, we doubt that the platform of the Q9 would be able to accommodate the dimensions of these American SUVs.

Performance

As Audi plans to introduce one last new generation of engines by 2026, we expect it to use those in the Q9. They will be the company’s best engines ever made, according to the brand.

Audi’s last internal combustion engine will be the best we’ve ever built.

Markus Duesmann, CEO, Audi (Berlin climate conference in June 2021)

Audi could offer 3.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engines with mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid technologies in the Q9. The company could target an EPA-est. electric range of around 40 miles from the plug-in hybrid variant. A 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 gasoline engine with plug-in hybrid technology is also likely to be a part of the powertrain line-up of the Q9. It could be related to the Lamborghini Urus Evo’s plug-in hybrid system, which as per a CAR report dated March 4, 2021, will consist of a Porsche-developed engine internally called ‘LK5.’

Release date

With the next-gen Q5 due in 2023 and the next-gen Q7 scheduled for launch in 2024 as per media reports, plus the Q6 e-tron and new e-tron families also in the pipeline in 2023, we doubt Audi can program the Q9’s world premiere anytime before 2025.

On August 8, 2022, Automotive News reported that the Q9 might join the Audi line-up in 2025. U.S. dealers have reportedly been told about a new model on the roadmap, but Audi has not confirmed it.

The U.S., the second-biggest SUV market after China, will likely be among the first countries to receive the Q9, probably at a starting price of around USD 80,000. Customer delivery units should start reaching Audi U.S. dealers the latest by early 2026.

Audi Q9 FAQs

What is the Audi Q9 release date?

The Q9 could debut in 2025, targeted at the U.S., China, and the Middle East.

What will be the Audi Q9 price?

The Q9 could cost around USD 80,000 onwards. It is expected in electrified versions.

Which models will be Audi Q9 rivals?

The Q9 will compete with the likes of Range Rover, BMW X7, and Mercedes GLS.

Featured Image: Audi