Audi has been spied recently at the Nürburgring testing a new and rather mysterious SUV. It seems larger than the Q7, suggesting it will have a more spacious third row to take on the Mercedes GLS and the BMW X7. It’s widely referred to as the Q9, though we have our doubts since the seven-seat SUV appears to be related to the VW Atlas, which rides on an inferior MQB platform compared to the MLB-based Q7 and Q8.
Some say it’s actually a new fullsize SUV just for China, but now we’re hearing the model in question will be coming to the United States as well. It will take a while as Automotive News has learned from an Audi dealer in North America that the supposed Q9 has been approved to arrive locally in 2026. The timeframe seems a bit strange seeing as how the prototype spotted at the Green Hell had the full production body, suggesting an official reveal in 2022.
Automotive News got in touch with an Audi of America spokesperson, but sadly, all that it received was a “no comment” answer. If the large SUV you can see in this spy video below is debuting next year, why would Audi wait to bring it stateside until 2026? Large luxury SUVs represent a hot market in the US, and the Q7’s third row just isn’t big enough compared to some other rivals.
Waiting so long to launch it in North America doesn’t make sense, which leads us to believe we’re dealing with two different models. The one caught at the Nordschleife is likely not the Q9 since a glorified VW Atlas just wouldn’t be enough to go up against fullsize luxury SUVs. The actual Q9 could be an entirely different vehicle, one that would live up to be the flagship SUV from the Four Rings.
For what it’s worth, Automotive News reports a fully electric eQ9 project was abandoned in spring. That’s not all too surprising since Audi will have a second generation of its large E-Tron SUV, and as opposed to the current model, it’s going to ride on a dedicated electric car platform. That will make it far more spacious than today’s model, but it’s not due until after 2025.
Source: Automotive News