The Q8 is a large, elegant SUV-Coupe with a sloping roofline and sporty profile. The RS Q8 takes all those qualities and turns the dial up to 11. You couldn’t call the massive RS-specific gloss black honeycomb grille elegant, but it’s dramatic, especially when combined with the RS Q8’s gloss black air inlets and front splitter. Headlamps are tinted RS HD Matrix LEDs with a unique daytime running light signature, and the wheel arch blisters are inspired by the design of the original rally-derived Sport Quattro S1. At the rear, there’s an RS roof spoiler and rear skirt/diffuser; the RS Q8 runs on massive 22-inch wheels, the largest ever offered by Audi as standard. If that’s not enough, you can upgrade to 23-inch wheels. Further design and specification embellishments can be yours with the Black and Vorsprung trim versions.
The RS Q8 is powered by a 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 that generates a deep throbbing beat at idling speeds and snarls its way to 62mph in just 3.8 seconds from rest. Power output of 600 HP and 800 NM of torque ensure that instant, exhilarating performance is available all the way to the electronically controlled top speed of 155mph. A mild hybrid 48V system with belt starter-generator can allow the RS Q8 to cruise for up to 40 seconds with the engine off, and partial cylinder deactivation saves fuel on part throttle openings. Power is sent to all four wheels via an eight-speed Tiptronic transmission and quattro all-wheel drive. Drive automatically goes to the axle with the better traction – up to 70 per cent can be directed to the front wheels and up to 85 per cent rearwards.
With the Audi Drive Select system, the RS Q8 driver can select from eight drive modes; comfort, auto, dynamic, efficiency, allroad, offroad and the individually configurable modes RS1 and RS2. The modes alter engine and transmission settings, as well as steering, air suspension, engine sound and even air conditioning. Other technology highlights include RS-specific displays on the Audi Virtual Cockpit driver instrumentation, which can show tyre pressures, torque, power, temperature and lap times. The top of the range MMI Navigation Plus system is standard and includes a Wi-Fi hotspot with predictive route planning features.
Over thirty interrelated driver assistance systems come as standard with the RS Q8. These include lane departure warning, parking system plus and rear-view camera. The integral Audi pre-sense front system uses radar sensors and/or the front camera to compute the probability of a collision. Within the limitations of the system, it warns of collision threats and initiates braking at specific vehicle speeds.
Verdict: Even if they don’t choose the searing lime green of the press launch vehicle, we’d assume that RS Q8 owners will be happy to receive admiring attention from other road users. This is a range-topping SUV in every sense; Audi’s biggest, fastest, most comprehensively equipped and most dramatically styled performance SUV.
The Q8 is available in different versions, known as trim levels. These allow you to choose a version that reflects your preferred styling, driving experience and equipment level. Standard equipment and the choice of options both vary by trim.