‘Awesome’ just doesn’t seem to be sufficient when you’re talking about 441kW and 800Nm. 

21 November, 2019

There are times when words, not matter how carefully chosen, just don’t do justice to the subject. In the case of the all-new Audi RS Q8, this couldn’t be more true, because without actually experiencing this new model from Audi Sport, it’s impossible to convey its presence and capabilities.

The numbers tell a part of the story. With its biturbo 4.0-litre V8 producing 441kW and an extraordinary 800Nm of torque between 2200 and 4500rpm, the performance potential is obvious. But combined with its large SUV dimensions and absolute luxury appointment, the RS Q8 takes on a completely new dimension in performance luxury – literally.

“For the first time in the 25-year history of Audi RS models, we are putting a large SUV coupe with the genes of a true high-performance sports car on the road,” says Oliver Hoffmann, Managing Director of Audi Sport GmbH. “With its biturbo V8 petrol engine, the Audi RS Q8 is the prestigious spearhead of the RS model family.”

Given the pedigree and well-earned reputation of the entire RS family, nominating the new RS Q8 as the ‘spearhead’ of the model family is a big call, but everything about this new model backs it up – this vehicle is off the charts in every respect.

Its physical presence is obvious. Like the standard Audi Q8, or the more aggressive SQ8 TDI, it turns heads with its distinctive styling, but this has received the RS treatment to again, take it to the next level. From the huge octagonal Singleframe, the RS-specific radiator grille in high gloss black and the gloss black RS honeycomb grille, the RS Q8 attracts attention. RS-specific trim strips in the body colour widen the body by10 millimetres up front and five millimetres in the rear, providing space for the more generous track. Optional 23-inch wheels (22-inch are standard) enhance the powerful appearance even more. The continuous RS sills come standard in Manhattan grey, while a roof edge spoiler provides a striking finish at the top and provides downforce at high speed. There are nine colours to chose from (pictured here in Java green) and the exterior mirror housings come standard in black, with body colour, aluminium or carbon available as options. Customers can choose between two different LED headlight configurations and the optionally tinted RS Matrix LED headlights have a three-dimensional daytime running lights signature with a digital character, similar to the LED tail lights. A light strip backed by a high-gloss black surface joins the rear lights, further emphasising the wide stance. 

The effect is impressive to say the least and not only gives the RS Q8 extraordinary road presence, but the physical size provides unbelievable interior room for occupants.

The feeling of space is tremendous because the sheer space is tremendous. Coupled with the clean interior design language, the slim instrument panel and the strongly horizontal lines that feeling of space is further accentuated. The central element in the cockpit is the top MMI touch response display, which along with the Audi virtual cockpit and MMI display provide information on such things as tyre pressure, torque, output, temperature, lap times and g-forces and the optional head-up display also offers several RS-specific graphics. 

Sport seats in black pearl Nappa leather/Alcantara with RS embossing fit perfectly into the athletic ambiance of the large SUV coupe, and RS sport seats in Valcona leather with a honeycomb pattern and RS embossing can also be ordered. In addition to a massage function, the RS sport seats are perforated to also provide ventilation. 

The fully perforated RS sport leather steering wheel with flat bottom is multifunctional and allows the driver to control all manner of systems including the eight Audi drive select profiles which include the RS1 and RS2 modes.

In the voluminous rear, a sliding three-seat rear bench is standard and with the seat backrests folded down, the luggage compartment under the power rear hatch holds up to 1755 litres. 

Needless to say, the RS Q8 boasts absolute state-of-the-art infotainment and connectivity – this is the last word in luxury after all – and there are more than 30 driver assistance systems available to assist with everything from parking to high speed stability. Absolute luxury and absolute safety.

But while cruising the boulevards in luxury is an important part of the RS Q8’s makeup, it is an RS model and to satisfy that brief it must performa like a supercar.

The aforementioned biturbo V8 launches the big SUV from standstill to 100km/h in just 3.8 seconds and on to 200km/h in 13.7 seconds. Top speed is governed to 250km/h but with the optional dynamic package, that top speed can be increased to 305km/h.

Power of course goes down to the quattro permanent all-wheel drive system via the standard eight-speed tiptronic and the purely mechanical centre differential distributes power in a 40:60 ratio to the front and rear axles. In the event of slip, more drive torque automatically goes to the axle with the better traction with up to 70 percent going to the front wheels and up to 85 percent to the rear wheels. 

The RS Q8 also uses wheel-selective torque control  and during dynamic cornering, the optional quattro sport differential distributes drive torque between the rear wheels as required.

Stopping power is ably taken care of by internally vented composite disks (420mm front and 370mm rear) with 10-inch piston calipers. Optional RS ceramic brakes are also available.

The biturbo V8 in the new RS Q8 combines maximum performance and high efficiency. Its mild- hybrid system (MHEV) is based on a 48-volt main electrical system, with a belt alternator-starter connected to the crankshaft. During deceleration and braking, it can recover up to 12kW of power and store it in the compact lithium-ion battery. If the driver takes their foot off the accelerator at a speed between 55 and 160km/h, the vehicle recuperates or coasts for up to 40 seconds with the engine off. The belt alternator starter starts the engine within fractions of a second when the driver hits the accelerator. MHEV technology allows for start/stop operation at a speed of up to 22km/h. 

The RS Q8 also employs a cylinder on demand (COD) system for even greater efficiency, shutting down four of the cylinders when not under load, but seamlessly reactivating them the second they are required.

All-wheel steering is standard for greater manoeuvrability and ride is superb thanks to the standard adaptive air suspension sport with controlled damping. Its RS-specific damper tuning allows for a particularly broad spread between a setup biased toward comfort and an extremely sporty setup. Depending on driving situation and the driver’s wishes, the body’s ride height varies by up to 90 millimetres. 

The optional electromechanical active roll stabilisation (EAWS) minimises body roll during fast cornering, using a compact electric motor between the two halves of the stabiliser on each of the two axles. When driving straight ahead, the two halves of the stabiliser are decoupled, but during cornering, the halves of the stabiliser are twisted in opposite directions, significantly reducing bodyroll. 

The electromechanical active roll stabilisation is integrated in the 48-volt main electrical system and serves as a recuperating system. It can even recover power via the electric motors and thereby feed electrical energy back to the battery. 

With the optional dynamic package plus customers also get a chassis designed for maximum sportiness which includes electromechanical active roll stabilisation, quattro sport differential and the RS ceramic brake system. 

No matter where you look, it’s an awesome package – the pinnacle of performance and luxury, and able to tackle pretty much anything. A worthy addition to the elite RS ranks, performance Australian enthusiasts will only have to wait until the third quarter of next year to fully appreciate the RS Q8 ‘in the metal’ when it makes its considerable presence felt Down Under. Final pricing and specification will be announced closer to its arrival.