This new Audi is the brand's fastest ever gravel travel vehicle.
The automotive world might be rapidly electrifying, but the big money remains to be made in SUVs and sportscars.
Audi has combined these two profit opportunities with its latest release, the RS Q8. This high-performance SUV illustrates, yet again, how accomplished the VW Group’s platform-sharing strategy is.
Built on the same MLB platform as Bentley’s Bentayga, Lamborghini’s Urus and the Porsche Cayenne expectations are high for this fastest-ever Audi SUV.
The styling is typically imposing RS-fare: a huge single-frame grille up front (with a carbon surround) and slight fender extensions, which widen the vehicle by 10 mm at its front axle and 5 mm at the rear. Unlike the RS6, Audi chose to not add an elaborate widening body kit to its RS Q8. This is due to the standard Q8 already being a substantial 1 993 mm across its middle.
What is most notable about the RS Q8’s exterior appearance, are its wheels. They look in perfect proportions to the SUV’s exterior structure and that is because these are the largest diameter wheels Audi has ever fitted to a production vehicle, measuring 23-inches.
The most important bits of Audi’s new RS Q8 are those that you cannot see: its engine and suspension. Using the same electrically powered active anti-roll technology first seen in the Bentley Bentayga, the RS Q8 promises to deliver incredible dynamic handling for a vehicle of its size and stance.
An air-suspension system can vary ride height by 90 mm, for both high-speed cruising and off-roading applications. The RS Q8 also features enormous brakes, sized at 420 mm up front and 370 mm at the rear. Actuating these brakes are ten-piston callipers.
Powering Audi’s most potent SUV is a 441 kW version of the brand’s 4-litre bi-turbocharged engine. With 800 Nm of torque and sophisticated mild-hybrid energy harvesting, the RS Q8 can be both brutally quick and impressively efficient.
Audi claims that its RS Q8 will run a true 0-100kph time of 3.8 seconds and power to a top speed of 305 kph, which means it is as fast as Lamborghini’s Urus, although the Italian car is quicker by two-tenths of second in a sprint to 100 kph.
To control all this power and performance, Audi’s engineers have reconfigured the Q8’s quattro system. In RS Q8 specification, it allows for torque biasing of up to 70% to the front axle, with an 85% threshold for the rear differential, when required.
The RS Q8 is planned to arrive in SA in 2020, with lots of rivals to fend of such as the BMW X5/X6 M, Jag F-Pace SVR, Alfa Romeo Stelvio and Merc's range of AMG 63 SUVs.