Roots of the modern large SUV lie in the lumpen load luggers not more than a paddock or
two from basic farm implements. Then, these agricultural four-wheel drive wagons jumped
the fence, evolving into family-friendly people movers with prodigious towing capacity and
the ability to take on tough going.
Along the way, probably attracted by ‘sport’ in ‘sport utility vehicle’, a string of luxury sports
car makers, such as Porsche, Jaguar, Mercedes AMG, BMW, Jeep SRT and Maserati,
fancied their chances with performance models. Even aristocrats Bentley and Rolls-Royce
got in on the act.
Add to this cohort the German automobile giant Audi / VW: welcome to the Audi RS Q8.
Paul Sansom, managing director of Audi Australia, says of the first RS Q8: “Creating a
vehicle that truly serves its purpose as a functional, versatile family vehicle without
compromising on the kind of stratospheric performance that is expected of an RS flagship
is a remarkable achievement by Audi Sport GmbH.”
Such performance does not come cheap. The RS Q8 sells from $208,500, plus on-road
costs, $43,000 up on previous top-spec SQ8. Good news is Audi recently upped its
warranty from three five years with unlimited kilometres. The all-new RS Q8 is offered with
the comprehensive Audi service plan package, priced at $4060 for five years.
Generally, the RS Q8 fits the large SUV bill to a ‘T’ – more ‘utility’ than ‘sport’ – even
though it’s reported to have its own RS body styling. Matrix headlamps, incorporating
dynamic indicators, above twin air dams, flanking a black single-frame radiator grille,
dominate the front.
Convenience and comfort are enhanced by power-assisted door closure, electric tailgate,
privacy glass and panoramic glass sunroof. Other upper echelon features include a
convenience key, power exterior mirrors with heating, auto dimming, with memory and
passenger kerb-side functions.
Hang on, what’s this, then? Filling out the wheel arches are twenty-three-inch alloy wheels
with 5-Y spoke pattern in matt titanium, and peeking out from behind, red brake calipers.
That’s more like it, sport. Loose-wheel detection and anti-theft bolts are incorporated as a
Heated front and rear seats, four-way lumbar support, four-zone climate control, electric
sunblind for rear side windows (manual for rear window), an air quality package and
illuminated door sills all come standard.
Coloured ambient light strips spread across dash and doors dozens of colours and are
split into two ‘levels’ – primary and contours – enabling choice of two different colours at a
Second-row seats are comfortable and have ample headroom and legroom. Occupants
have a small screen to control climate control settings. There are also two USB-A outlets
and a 12V outlet.
A centre console bin is all-but absent. Under the lid are a wireless charging pad and a
small storage slot, plus USB outlets. There are two cupholders up front in the centre.
The RS Q8 calls on Audi’s new twin-screen MMI for infotainment, coming with a 10.1-inch
upper and 8.6-inch lower screen. Incorporated are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
connectivity, with sound being delivered through a 17-speaker, 730W Bang & Olufsen
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The RS Q8 shares the same twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine as the Audi RS6 and
RS7, producing 441 kW of power and a thumping 800 Nm of torque between 2200 and
4000 rpm. It’s good for zero-to-100 km/h time of 3.8 seconds, just 0.2 seconds shy of the
RS6 and RS7.
The prodigious powerplant is mated with an eight-speed torque-converter automatic and
The RS Q8, like the SQ8, does not have an ANCAP safety rating. However, the Q8 on
which they are based, boasts a five-star score based on 2018 testing.
A full suite of safety technology is offered with the RS Q8, including adaptive cruise control
with start / stop engine assist, front and rear parking sensors, Audi pre-sense front and
rear, active lane and side assist, head-up display and a 360-degree camera with kerb
Standard equipment also includes autonomous emergency braking with junction assist,
blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert, safe exit warning, adaptive
cruise control, plus front, side and curtain airbags.
A mild hybrid system is said to save 0.8 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres, depending on how
it’s driven. On test, the RS Q8 consumption ranged from 8.6 litres on the motorway to 13-
plus in the city.
Selectable RS modes summoned by a single button on the steering wheel, offer a sportier
instrument layout with additional information, including a G-force meter.
There’s a choice between Off-Road, Allroad, Efficiency, Comfort, Auto and Dynamic drive
modes, as well as customisable RS functions that allow suspension, steering, throttle
response and vehicle sound to be altered.
Surprisingly, the track orientated Dynamic mode is still comfortable enough for town work.
It does not add too much weight to the steering, while lowering ride height and RS Q8’s
While not so annoying as some on the market, the lane-keep assist can be easily switched
off via a button at the end of a stalk, while other driver assist systems are controlled via the
From ragged serfs to well-bred good sports, large SUVs have come a long way. There’s
no better example of the metamorphosis than the Audi RS Q8, which technically and
performance-wise is well credentialed to wear its eye-watering price tag. Bet the e-tron
version is buzzing around in the background.
AT A GLANCE
Audi RS Q8 $208,500
No-cost option: 23-inch alloy wheels in 5-Y spoke design, matt titanium
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your
local Audi dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Audi RS Q8 4. 0L TFSI petrol, 8-cylinder, 48 Volt mild hybrid, 8sp
Tiptronic automatic, quattro AWD)
Capacity: 3.996 litres
Configuration: Eight cylinders in ‘V’
Maximum Power: 441 kW @ 6000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 800 Nm @ 2200-4000 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 98 RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 12.1 L/100km
DRIVELINE: Eight-speed Tiptronic automatic, quattro all-wheel drive
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 5012 mm
Wheelbase: 2998 mm
Width: 1998 mm
Height: 1751 mm
Kerb Mass: 2315 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 85 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc
Five years / unlimited kilometres