Audi’s ultimate big hitter, the RS Q8, now holds the title of the brand’s most powerful petrol-engined vehicle in the company’s history and adds another Nürburgring lap record to the trophy cabinet for good measure.

26 June, 2024

Hot on the heels of a pre-production RS 3 Sedan blitzing the Nürburgring lap record for compact vehicles, the brand’s full-sized luxury SUV, the RS Q8 performance has likewise set its own benchmark around the famed 20.8-kilometre track.

Note the addition of the ‘performance’ to the vehicle designation, as there are now two RS Q8s available, with the RS Q8 still delivering 440kW and 800Nm of torque from its 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 and the more powerful RS Q8 performance dialling that up to 471kW and 850Nm of torque.

Those new figures rocket the RS Q8 performance from a standstill to 100km/h in a staggering 3.6 seconds and provided the lightening acceleration required for its record 7:36.698 minutes around the Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit, once again in the very capable hands of Audi works driver Frank Stippler.

Visual updates are subtle but serve to give the large, coupe-like SUV an even more aggressive look, with a new front apron and massive air intakes on the front, as well as a new honeycomb grille. Twin oval exhaust tips and a new rear diffuser are both visual cues as well as serving practical purposes on the tail end, while features finished in matte grey are signifiers of the performance model while the RS Q8 boasts finishes in gloss black.

Matrix LED headlights are standard with the option to further upgrade to Audi laser light, while customers are able to choose from five different daytime running light signatures to further differentiate their vehicle. For the first time, the RS Q8 also uses largely digitalised OLED rear lights with five digital light signatures which also feature a proximity indication as part of the safety offering, flashing when other vehicles get too close – although it’s unlikely they’ll be quick enough to get too close too often.

The RS Q8 performance is the most powerful petrol-engined production Audi ever.

Both RS Q8 models come with 22-inch 10-spoke light-alloy wheels, with optional 23-inch light-alloy wheels in a six-Y spoke design and 295/35 tyres also available. These are optionally available in metallic black, matte Neodymium Gold, burnished silk matte grey, or burnished metallic black to go with a range of body colours including three metallic colours Sakhir Gold, Ascari Blue, and Chili Red. Of course if these aren’t to your liking you can also opt to use the Audi exclusive service for your own individual exterior finish.

The spacious interiors are available in the choice of red, grey or blue RS design packages, with the latter specific to the performance model, with distinctive perforated sports seats with honeycomb stitching. Customers can choose between matte brushed aluminium with linear embossing in silver, aluminium Race Anthracite, matte Carbon Twill, or Grey Oak interior finishes, while an exclusive brushed black aluminium is available for the RS Q8 performance.

The steering wheels are finished in Alcantara while the gear selector and the side of the blade in the centre console are covered in Dinamica microfibre, made from recycled PET fibres. 

Of course it goes without saying that the cabins feature every conceivable luxury and the latest in automotive tech and connectivity. Special RS touches also abound, like the shift indicator in the 12.3-inch Audi virtual cockpit plus when in manual mode. This indicates the optimal time to change gears just as in a race car, changing the rpm display from green to yellow to red and flashing at the appropriate time.

And that of course is what the RS Q8 and its performance sibling are all about. Their massive performance potential turns these full-sized luxury SUVs into high-performance sports cars with the handling to match.

Adaptive air suspension is standard and has been specially tuned for RS, with ride height that can be adjusted by up to 90mm. As an option, both models offer electromechanical active roll stabilisation (eAWS), powered by a 48V lithium-ion battery, which effectively eliminates body roll regardless of speed. 

Stopping power comes courtesy of an RS braking system with ventilated composite brake discs (420mm in the front, 370mm in the rear) with an impressive 10-piston brake calliper system working on the front axle. The brake callipers come as standard in black but are optionally available in red with RS lettering. RS ceramic brakes with big 440mm front and 370mm rear discs are standard features on the RS Q8 performance model and are optional on the RS Q8. These are typically finished in grey but can also be ordered in red or blue.  

Then there is the mechanical centre differential, which distributes engine power to the front and rear axle at a standard ratio of 40:60, but with the potential to send up to 85 percent to the rear axle.

Add all of these elements together, the twin-turbo V8 power plant, eight-speed Tiptronic, quattro all-wheel drive and sports suspension and the combination is impressive to say the least.

Stippler’s record-breaking lap around the Nürburgring the icing on the cake – something the previous model also achieved on its launch.

Its status as the brand’s most powerful petrol-engined vehicle is also impressive, although the Audi e-tron GT models take top honours when it comes to most powerful vehicles from Audi overall.

The RS Q8 models will be available to order in Europe from the end of the month, with an Australian release date yet to be confirmed.