Luxury SUV – 2021 Audi RS Q8 Review: A 600hp Super SUV
The Super SUV with Taste and Restraint.
Across the VW Group, there are countless versions of platform shared vehicles to help maximize profits for the major conglomeration. This is true for their cheapest and smallest vehicle offerings all the way up to the most expensive and most exclusive models. In the case of today’s review, the Audi RS Q8 is a platform-shared super SUV that shares its basic structure and engine with the focused Porsche Cayenne Turbo, the mad Lamborghini Urus, and the prestigious Bentley Bentayga.
Not only that, the RS Q8 is atop the new flagship performance Audi’s that shares almost all of the same mechanical components as the new RS7 and RS6 Avant. All of these vehicles mentioned sit upon the MLB Evo platform.
So the question is: How does the RS Q8 stack up as Audi’s SUV Flagship?
What is an RS Product?
As an RS vehicle, the RS Q8 has to be many things. It has to have a distinctive design, intoxicating engine and all the qualities anyone should expect out of an Audi. Starting off with that first point, the looks of the RS Q8 are striking in person. The air intakes are larger with a faux splitter connecting one side to the other and highlighting the different mesh and indents of the Q8’s mask. The side sills and wheel arches are slightly swollen with a roof spoiler and massive oval exhaust outlets completing the exterior design. 23’’ rims are available on the RS Q8 (this model featured has the 22’’ rims with the winter tire package) and the largest carbon-ceramic brakes fitted to any production car. In the Audi, they cost another $10,500CAD up front and shares this title with the Urus. This may be the approbate time to mention the as-listed price for the RS Q8. The one featured today retails for $161,050CAD.
The interior design doesn’t go through as many revisions but the changes are noticeable. Firstly, the RS Q8 features sport-seats with an integrated headrest. Potentially bothersome to taller individuals as the headrest can’t raise up and cradle your skull in the way you’d want when pushing the RS Q8 through repetitive 0-60 runs. Beside that, the front seats in this model are heated, vented and massaging. Other interior changes include the flat-bottom RS exclusive steering wheel, new graphics on the Virtual Cockpit, HUD and the dual-screen MMI Touch system. This model features a swathe of carbon fiber trimmings across the cabin.
The Driving Character
Moving onto the second point, the engine of the RS Q8. Prepare yourself with this very long sentence. The RS Q8 features a 4.0L twin-turbo V8 with 48V mild-hybridization and cylinder-deactivation with a total system output of 590 horsepower and 591lb/ft of torque. That wasn’t so bad was it? This responsive and passionately charged engine is the heart of the RS Q8 and gives this vehicle so much charm. With a 0-60km/h quoted at 3.6 seconds and feels like it can do that over and over again without hesitation with endless traction thanks in part to the Quattro AWD system. The additional weight of the engine is noticed from the steering, but this feels appropriate given the greater driver focus one should want out of an RS product. It goes without saying the V8’s soundtrack is mesmerizing. The sound is baritone in nature with raspy exclamations at every upshift. The crackles and fizzes when letting off the gas pedal mid-throttle don’t feel artificially engineered or overbearing. Despite the abundance of power, the V8 doesn’t ever feel strained. Shifting gears with the 8-speed ZF is sharp and authoritative but selecting the RS driving modes will unleash the software-programmed stunt like a Lamborghini Aventador. This adds theatre and excitement but doesn’t cause the vehicle to shift anymore aggressively.
Is it a Proper Audi?
Addressing the final point: is the RS Q8 everything you should expect out of an Audi? The driving experience of the RS Q8 is incredibly relaxed, maybe not the first thing to expect out of a near-600hp super SUV. But the Audi comes standard with air suspension and with the smaller wheel options, ride doesn’t suffer at all compared to the more civilian Q8 and SQ8. Road noise is increased slightly with the wider wheels and tires, but the double-lamination of the windows makes the overall volume no different from personal experience. Despite the potential to unleash all the power and torque at any given moment, the RS Q8 has a long throttle pedal that allows for normal and socially acceptable driving under 3000rpm. If you’re concerned the neighborhood watch, or the volunteers at the school bus ring, will judge you for overtly arrogant driving, don’t be. At slow speeds and with calm inputs, the RS Q8 won’t draw any attention to itself. The RS Q8 packs in every feature and piece of technology across their range such as the four-wheel steering, the augmented-reality 3D camera system, automatic parking and the aforementioned massaging seats. The RS Q8 is a proper Audi experience with a not-so-secret weapon under the hood. It isn’t quite a Jekyll and Hyde character split, but the RS Q8 only disadvantages to a Q8 or SQ8 is the cost of admission and the frightful fuel economy. The RS Q8 is rated for 18.0/12.3/15.4 L/100km in the city/highway/combined cycle respectively.
To conclude, the RS Q8 is a fantastically unnecessary machine. The power is always fun but the character of an expensive Audi isn’t lost at all. The Audi is refined and has enough restraint to make it easy to let others to drive it without intimidation. If you’re looking to spend more money to get more luxury, then buy a Bentayga. If you want something a little more wild, buy a Urus. If you want a greater connection to the road, buy a Cayenne. The great thing about the VW Group is that they have you covered.
This review was made possible with the help of Glenmore Audi in Calgary, Alberta
NEXT: Audi RSQ8 VS Lamborghini Urus: Which Is The Best Performance SUV?
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Luxury SUV – 2021 Audi RS Q8 Review: A 600hp Super SUV
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