This goes against everything SUVs are made for. Maybe that’s why we like it. This is a muscle car in every stretch of imagination except it’s not a car. Audi took the largest vehicle it makes, installed the largest engine it makes, added big wheels and exhaust, and call it RS Q8. It’s extreme everything in one big package.
Audi Sport is the automaker’s performance division-like AMG is for Mercedes. It stabs big performance into Audi products and is responsible for the RS Q8. Its mandate was to take a big, lumbering SUV and make it handle and perform like a sports car.
Extreme everything means an extreme price
The down-side to all of this is predictable. The estimated cost is $120,000-give or take a few thou-official pricing hasn’t been released. And fuel economy is lacking. Combined mpg is right at 15 miles to a gallon of gas. We guess if you’re looking for an SUV like this money and mileage are not big priorities.
For your money you’ll get Audi’s 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 with 48-volt mild hybrid system, cranking out almost 600 hp and 600 lb-ft of torque. It’s hooked to an eight-speed automatic transmission with all-wheel-drive. It will do 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds with a top speed close to 200 mph. This is the same drivetrain you’ll find in the RS 6 and RS 7.
The suspension is aided by Audi’s Dynamic All-Wheel Steering. At high speeds, it helps stability and at low speeds, it quickens steering and turning radius. A quick-ratio rack-and-pinion steering also helps.
The extreme wheels are 23-inch alloys
The giant wheels are 23-inch alloys, which are the largest in the industry. Wrapped in 295/35R23 tires it gives both the look and feel of a roller skate. They mask large 17.3-inch carbon-ceramic rotors-the same as those found on the Urus.
Torque-vectoring, electronic 48-volt anti-roll bars, adjustable ride-height air suspension, it’s everything in the Audi sports suspension playbook.
Both the front- and rear-end styling is unique to the Q8. With the slightly lower suspension, it all combines for one of the best, most aggressive-looking SUVs out there. Though priced similarly to the Porsche Cayenne, utilizing the same architecture, it features a better look in our humble opinion.
You forget this is a 5300 lb SUV
Inside it’s much the same as the standard Q8, which is superb. We like the lattice pattern from the grille used in the seats. Paddle shifters, tach, V8 growl, it makes you forget that this is a 5300 lb SUV.
Audi Sport is looking at applying its RS magic to as many models as it can, with an eye toward the US. For 2019 it created the RS 7 sedan which is now teamed with the Q8. We know an RS Q5 SUV is in the works, and quite possibly an RS Q3 SUV could be coming after that.
What we know for sure is that when the “RS” is affixed to an Audi it represents the fastest and best-handling vehicles in each segment that Audi makes. SUVs used to be big, lumbering bricks you pointed and then prayed. Those days are long gone.