About a year and a half ago I flew down to Oman for the regional launch of the Q8 – the flagship of the Q range of Audi and only the second Q model to receive the RS badge. It was in Oman that we got to test the Q8 across narrow roads, highways, in the desert off-road and climbing high up mountains (Jebal Akhdar). Fast forward to December 2019 and I find myself in Tenerife, the Canary Islands with Audi Middle East for the international launch of the Audi RS Q8 – that’s a Q8 with all the trimmings… and some. It takes quite outrageously high standards and specifications for an Audi to come equipped ‘RS’ badge. It was well worth the wait.
The sporty SUV market is becoming more and more in demand, certainly in our region, and many manufacturers are knocking out some sexy products to satisfy the demand. In this case with Audi for the RS Q8, I think they’ve gone beyond expectations when it comes to specifications, performance, style, and interior. It was interesting to learn that Tenerife is the largest and highest of all the Canary Islands – a smooth marketing decision to launch Audi’s top model in the Q product line with RS performance… I see what they did there. Clever marketing aside, the location was on par for the car. I’d never been to a place that changes climate, terrain, scenery, and roads as much as it does in Tenerife, every part has its beauty. The dark clouds and aggressive rocky terrain set the mood for the
I must admit – I’ve got a real soft spot for loud muscular sporty SUVs. Hence, with my patience thin I stand tapping my foot and checking my watch during the briefing whilst I frequently gaze out the window to look at the sparkling clean line-up of RS Q8’s ready to be pedal-to-the-metal’d.
She’s a 10
Upon first look over the car, she’s nice on the eye. Audi has nailed it when it comes to a hybrid between supercar performance with space and comfort of a family SUV. I say this as I compare it to the Lamborghini Urus as if the Urus is its cousin who has a slightly more aggressive attitude and the RS Q8 being just a tad calmer with a smaller price tag. Nevertheless – they’re very similar. The 23-inch wheels make a bold statement, though these are optional and 22-inch is standard. It’s 10mm wider than the normal Q8 with the RS-specific radiator grille in high gloss black and the gloss black RS honeycomb grille, the new Audi RS Q8 sports a full-of-confidence and athletic face.
Over at the rear, as is typical for the RS models, the dual exhaust system features a bold and wide oval tailpipe on each side – the size of the exhausts are in good ratio to the size of the car. The SUV coupe is available in a choice of nine colors. The exterior mirror housings come standard in black, with body-color, aluminum or carbon available as options. In combination with the styling packages black and carbon, the Audi rings and RS logos at the front and rear are optionally available in black.
She’s just as nice on the inside. The interior is a clean design that screams performance, with comfortable RS design seats that include a massage function and air conditioning which is great for our summers. Something I really love about the RS range is their sporty RS branded steering wheels – they look and feel awesome.
Under the bonnet
There’s no messing around under the bonnet, Audi has delivered some eye-popping specifications for this large sporty SUV. The RS Q8 comes packed with a 4.0 liter biturbo V8 kicking out an incredible 600 horsepower and clears 0-100 km/h in just 3.8 seconds and to 200 km/h in 13.7 seconds, with a top speed of 305 km/h. Having plenty of time to drive the car and being on the island of Tenerife we had some awesome road to really test its ability. I’d found a long straight strip of road to test the launch control next to a viewpoint where tourists were standing and taking photos of the clearly visible Mount Teide, there was a group of young lads who’s attention turned from Mount Teide to the roaring sound of the RS Q8 I had on the road whilst preparing the launch control. I’m sure it made for great Instagram stories, as the surrounding scenery resembled something perhaps from planet Mars.
I was so impressed with how well it gripped the road as I was battling and steering my way through the windy mountain-edge roads. It stuck like glue; it did not feel like an SUV. It wasn’t long until we’d elevated thousands of feet and with a drastic drop of the thermometer.
The drive select feature really changes the character of the car like a crazy person with split personalities. There are eight profiles: Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, Efficiency, Allroad, Offroad and the individually configurable RS-specific modes RS1 and RS2, with the RS modes getting activated directly from the steering wheel from the enticing ‘RS-MODE’ button.
The RS modes especially transform the performance and sound of the car whereby you can really hear the sound and crackles of the V8! After hundreds of kilometers of test driving and shifting between comfort, auto, and the RS mode; the Audi RS Q8 is truly a car you can comfortably drive 365 days of the year that has the performance and specifications of a supercar for when you need it.
Having test-driven both the standard Q8 and the RS Q8, whilst they are both the same model, they are quite literally different cars. With the RS Q8 being over double the price of the entry-level Q8, it’s a question of how much you want the RS performance!