Diesel Audi SQ8 muscles in

The Audi SQ8 arrives in September to challenge the BMW X6 M50d

Audi has released details of the Audi SQ8, a high-performance 429bhp diesel version of its flagship SUV. The car is set to cost around £85,000 and will be in Audi dealerships by September this year.

Thanks to a 4.0-litre V8 diesel engine with mild-hybrid tech, the SQ8 has 429bhp and 900Nm of torque, is capable of hitting 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds and can reach an electronically-limited top speed of 155mph. This means it comprehensively outguns the 381bhp BMW X6 M50d, on paper at least.

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The 48v mild-hybrid system consists of a lithium-ion battery pack and a small electric motor. It powers an electric compressor that crams air into the engine before the engine’s more conventional turbochargers wake up, minimising turbo lag and improving engine response.

When driven more economically, the mild-hybrid system is also capable of powering the SQ8 at speeds of up to 14mph to save fuel and allow for engine-off coasting at higher speeds.

Adaptive air suspension is fitted to all models of the SQ8 to help combat body lean and improve comfort, with various driving modes available to make it softer or firmer. An advanced suspension package is also available, adding four-wheel steering, a sport differential and active anti-roll bars for more agile handling.

Stood next to a standard Q8, the SQ8 looks the part thanks to 21-inch alloy wheels, a bodykit with gaping air intakes and a new rear bumper diffuser that's home to oval exhaust pipes. For the ultimate SQ8, customers can upgrade to 22-inch wheels and add adaptive HD Matrix LED headlights, red paint for the brake calipers or carbon-ceramic brakes.

Leather and Alcantara sports seats, stainless steel pedals and a digital instrument panel should help driving enthusiasts feel the part. Meanwhile, the SQ8’s infotainment system supports voice control and Amazon Alexa, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, with dual screens on the centre console to take care of entertainment and the climate control.

To take the sting out of long-distance driving, the SQ8 gets adaptive cruise control, traffic jam assist, active lane assist and a 360-degree camera view. There's also manoeuvering assist and a kerb warning that can make small steering and braking interventions to help avoid low-speed dings and wince-inducing damage to the SQ8's massive alloy wheels.

Full UK pricing hasn't been announced yet, but we expect the Audi SQ8 to start at £85,000 when it arrives at dealerships this autumn.

Want to know more about the Audi Q8 and BMW X6? Read our full in-depth reviews.

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