Coupe SUVs are a paradox, they try to blend the sporty countenance of a coupe with the practicality of an SUV, but in joining the two they diminish both characteristics. But is Audi’s new RS Q8 different? We find out.
Here are five things you need to know about the Audi RS Q8.
1.This is the first RS Q8
The Q8 is Audi’s take on the swoopy-coupe crossover trend started by BMW’s X6. Buyers are spoiled for choice in this class, thanks to rivals such as the Mercedes-Benz GLE and Porsche Cayenne coupes. Originally sold with a sensible V6 engine, the new model brings Audi’s full “RS” treatment, including a twin-turbocharged V8 engine, monstrous brakes, clever suspension and pumped-up bodywork.
As the second Audi SUV to wear an RS badge, it’s much more convincing than the first effort – a rather lukewarm RS Q3 baby SUV that improved significantly when a new model arrived last year.
2.But there are other cars like it
Audi is part of the Volkswagen Group, pioneers of finding ways to fit the same mechanical bits into a range of packages.
The RS Q8 has the fundamental chassis and engine package as the Lamborghini Urus, Porsche Cayenne Turbo and Bentley Bentayga V8. It’s also a close relative of the Audi RS6 Avant sports wagon, and the Volkswagen Touareg that misses out on the rapid motor found in the Audi, Porsche and Lambo.
You’ll also find remarkably similar rivals in the BMW X6 M and Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 Coupe that have their own hardware but share its recipe – fastback styling, a twin-turbo petrol V8 and bad attitude.
Though the RS Q8 is a new badge, it’s not a new kind of car.
Powered by a 4.0-litre V8 with 441kW of power and 800Nm of torque, Audi says the RS Q8 is good for a 3.8 second dash to 100km/h. That’s genuinely rapid, enough to outgun the much lighter RS4 Avant sports wagon, or even sports cars such as the Porsche 911.
Better still, the RS Q8 has colossal cornering grip thanks to enormous 23-inch wheels with fat tyres and oversized brakes that work in conjunction with all-wheel-steering, active torque vectoring and electronic roll bars to keep the big wagon pointed in the right direction.
A quick blast on curvy roads revealed that the RS Q8 does a brilliant job of managing its weight, feeling planted and precise in trying circumstances. It’s also plush when cruising, thanks to clever air suspension and that effortless motor.
The Audi is stocked with luxury gear fitting a top-of-the-range prestige SUV. You get heated front and rear sports seats trimmed in soft leather stitched in an eye-catching honeycomb pattern. A panoramic sunroof, electric sun blinds and matrix LED headlights join beautifully machined wheels and dark exterior elements.
Tech includes a full suite of driver aids, plus Audi’s virtual cockpit digital dashboard and huge central touchscreen connected to smartphone mirroring, high-definition sat nav and a cracking 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo.
It won’t shock you to hear that all of that standard equipment isn’t cheap, with the RS Q8 rolling out the door at $208,500 plus on-road costs, or about $226,000 drive-away plus options such as the $6500 “java green” paint shown here.
While that’s hardly a pittance, the Audi does come in $54,000 cheaper than the 404kW Porsche Cayenne Turbo, and about $180,000 less than the 478kW Lamborghini Urus that share its hardware.