Violent acceleration when required, docile enough when not
Almost £110k before options, we’d rather have an RS6 estate
What is it?
Audi’s crack at the SUV-that-thinks-it’s-a-supercar segment. You know the type – think Aston Martin DBX 707, BMW X6M, Jaguar F-Pace SVR, Lamborghini Urus, Mercedes-AMG G63, Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe, Range Rover Sport SVR, et al.
Hands up, the uber-SUV is not a genre we’re particularly fond of here at TG, but we’re prepared to keep an open mind on this one, given how much we like its RS6 estate-shaped blood brother. And like all the latest rash of monster trucks, there is fiercely clever engineering and computing power keeping physics at bay.
Hit me with the numbers...
You’ll likely know that Audi makes the more understated (if you can call it that), 500bhp+ V8-engined SQ7 and SQ8, but this is a full-house RS model, so gets the same lunatic 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol engine as the RS6 estate… producing 592bhp and 590lb ft of torque. That means 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds, 0-124mph in 13.7 seconds, and a limited top speed of 155mph. Insert wide-eye emoji here.
A clever 48V mild-hybrid system can switch the engine off if the conditions are right when you lift off between 34mph and 99mph, allows stop-start at speeds up to 13mph and it can even shut down four of its eight cylinders under light throttle loads. But don’t be fooled into thinking it’ll be cheap to run – Audi claims fuel consumption and CO2 emission of 21.2mpg and 301g/km, which is entirely understandable for a car with an almost 600bhp V8 and weighing 2,315kg. Full details on the driving tab.
Owning one isn’t advised if you don’t like unwanted attention, either. Blistered arches widen the body by 10mm at the front and 5mm at the rear, while chunkier side skirts and classic RS oval pipes at the rear are red flags for people to point and stare. Even the Matrix LED head and taillights dance a jig when you turn the car on and off. It’s handsome in a way the closely related Lamborghini Urus simply isn’t, and attention grabbing in a way the RS6 can’t match either.
Tell me about the interior...
It certainly looks and feels the part, from the premium materials to the piano black wraparound dash to the dual haptic touchscreens, a 10.1-inch unit stacked on top of an 8.6-inch screen purely for the climate controls. We can’t help but feel the haptic feedback controls are a bit of an oversight – and the screen’s particularly prone to fingerprints – but otherwise there’s little to complain about in here.
You do get RS-specific info and graphics (including slightly obnoxious puddle lights), plus a smattering of RS badges dotted around the cabin, including the seats, steering wheel, mats and sills. Head over to the interior tab for the full lowdown.
Dare I ask the price?
Needless to say, it doesn’t come cheap. Where the standard Q8 starts from around £69k, in RS guise you’re looking at £109,085 as your starting point, rising to £126,885 for the range topping Vorsprung.
Still, if you’re reading this review it’s likely that you’ve got deeper pockets than most. Full details over on the buying tab.
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
The RSQ8 is an astonishing piece of engineering and you can feel the full might of the VW Group’s tech budget behind it. In isolation it’s hit its brief square on the nose – to be fast, loud and in-your-face – and possess a command over the forces of physics that’s remarkable. So, the question here isn’t whether it’s a good car, it’s whether driving one makes you a bad person. Unfortunately, that’s for you to decide.
Its main undoing is another car it produces, the RSQ8’s better looking, leaner, more helpful sibling, the RS6. We get that some of you will groan and roll your eyes and point out it’s some kind of car journalism lore to bash fast SUVs and bathe fast estates in praise, but there’s a very good reason for that. The RS6 costs slightly less than the RSQ8, weighs over 300kg less, is faster, more fuel efficient, boot space is near as makes no difference the same and you won’t look like a Premier League footballer when you pull up in one. Your move.