What is it?
Why would I buy it?
Well thought-out, engaging, fun to drive, comfortable, tech-loaded and surprisingly usable!
Why would I avoid it?
Too many feel-good features come at an additional price
What is it?
No, this is not an Audi Q8 in gothic makeup and a pair of heels too high. This is the genuine item that’s underlined by – too much power, too much torque, too much money, and too much fun!
This is the Audi RS Q8.
Now, to quickly run you through the differences between this and the standard Q8… the RS gets more aggressive bumpers, faux vents in the rear, ridiculously large wheels, lovely sounding twin exhausts, and our favourite – not an ounce of traditional chrome. The grille, the badges, and the exhaust tips, are all finished in tastefully executed gloss black.
But yes, much like the Q8, it does draw both glances and opinions in equal measure for the way it looks. In our book, it is clearly top of the charts when it comes to road presence. You see it, you want it.
How is it on the inside?
Now, we have done a detailed review of the regular Audi Q8 wherein we have talked about the interior room, the seating comfort, the feature list, and practicality in great detail. You can read that review HERE.
The RS Q8, nonetheless, does come with a few extra features. As part of the standard equipment, the RS gets 23-inch wheels, a 360 degree camera, and door scuff plates over and above what the regular Q8 gets. Things like four-zone climate control and the flat-bottom steering, which are optional extras on the Q8, are now standard on the RS.
But, our RS test car came with its own set of options. The all LED matrix headlamps, panoramic sunroof, B&O Premium sound system, soft close for doors, HUD, and the front sports seats you see here are all optional extras. The front seats are now ventilated; come with a massage function; and have adjustable side bolstering as well. But, these are still wonderful when it comes of comfort, support, and roominess.
The black chrome we like so much on the outside, is optional as well. As is the ‘black styling’ package that includes black ORVMs and roof rails for a proper stealth look. Other optional extras include the sports exhaust system, quattro with a sports differential, and active anti-roll bars.
The interior of the RS Q8, meanwhile, gets carbon fibre inserts, perforated leather for the steering wheel and gear selector, and additional settings for the MMI system. One can also change the graphics for the virtual cockpit. All this has been detailed in our elaborate picture gallery. So do check that out.
How does it drive?
It does have an RS in its name at the end of the day. Not a badge the elite engineers at Audi casually paste on any car. Not surprisingly then, the Audi RS Q8 is brilliant to drive! But let’s just throw some numbers at you first...
Max power is rated at 600bhp. The torque peaks at 800Nm. The engine is a V8. It displaces almost four-litres. And, it employs turbocharging and direct injection. And yes, it is a petrol engine. Then, of course, you have the claimed performance figures. The Audi RS Q8 has a top speed of 250kmph (restricted), and it gets from 0-100kmph in less than four seconds. And as it turns out, even if you aren’t paying attention to the efficiency assist, the RS can still return upwards of 6kmpl.
What these figures don’t tell you is how engaging the RS Q8 is to drive.
Now this is a heavy, relatively tall, and handsomely wide SUV. But, the way it responds to your touch is outstanding. The steering is direct. The turn-in into corners even more so, thanks to the trick suspension and all wheel steer. You charge hard into a corner, turn the RS Q8 in, and the whole SUV seems to move as one piece into the turn instead of the traditional feel where the tail is always trying to keep up with the nose at corner entries. It’s fantastic! The fat, low profile tyres also help of course.
Plus, the corner exits are equally enlivening. You can get on the throttle hard and early, but instead of understeering into the trees, the RS Q8 just squats, hooks in, balances the power going to the wheels, and shoots out like a thoroughbred from the post. Actually, make those 600 thoroughbreds! This, I am told is thanks in part to the optional sport differential our test car was running.
What’s more, the throttle response is immediate. And the V8’s quick and easy revving nature is matched with a brawny exhaust note and sledgehammer like power delivery. The latter just warps your sense of speed. The scenery is a blur. Distances shrink. And it seems, all of a sudden, all your fellow motorists have come to a grinding halt. Thankfully, the RS Q8’s handling ability also works beautifully when it comes to changing lanes and filtering through traffic in a hurry.
Now the RS Q8 only feels this involving, energetic, and brilliant, when you have all things turned up to 11. And that means both programmable RS driving modes, which come with settings to alter responses for the drivetrain, steering, and suspension, are set on max. The RS2 mode additionally allows the driver to play with the ESP setting as well.
There are five other preset driving modes as well, in fact, much like the regular Q8 – efficiency, comfort, dynamic, allroad and offroad. As with the Q8, different modes mean different throttle response, different damper settings, and different steering and gearbox feel.
Should I buy one?
The India price of the Audi RS Q8 is listed at Rs 2.07 crore, ex-showroom. The car we have here, with all these optional extras, costs many lakh more than that. But, if you can spare the monies, it’s a brilliant buy! And we say that because it is a proper RS model. Sure, it’s not as mad or hardcore as a supercar, but it’s engaging, and fun, and desirable, all the same.
Additionally, when you don’t want to go hell for leather, it’s surprisingly comfortable and usable on a daily basis. Yes, the 23-inch wheels and the non-existent tyre sidewalls mean you have to be really careful and pussyfoot over broken roads, which is totally contradictory to what its body style suggests.
But, in ‘comfort’ mode, with its quiet cabin, its light controls, its slightly lumpy but not awfully harsh ride, and its gorgeous sounding sound system, it makes for a relaxed and serene daily driver. The comfortable seats, good forward visibility, and a spacious interior and a usable boot, help as well. And I know this, because I spent over an hour with it in stop and go traffic.
The bottom line is if I ever owned one (which I so so want to!), I’d be so possessive about it that I would never get a chauffeur. In fact, the RS Q8 is one of those rare cars that make you brave; brave enough to politely point out to the missus that she might want to work on her driving every time she takes the RS’ wheel.
Where does it fit in?
The Audi RS Q8 goes up against the likes of the BMW X6M and the Range Rover Sport SVR. As it turns out, neither one is on sale currently, though the SVR bookings are on for a 2021 delivery. So, the only option then to the RS Q8 today is its more expensive and peculiar cousin, the Lamborghini Urus.
Pictures by Kapil Angane