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Audi RS Q8 : Raging bull’s genetic sibling can trot and charge

S.Muralidhar | Updated on April 29, 2021

There is a very likeable, dramatic background score coming out of the oval-shaped RS exhaust pipes at the rear   -  S Muralidhar

The dashboard gets the twin touchscreen treatment, stacked one on top of the other in the centre   -  S Muralidhar

The dashboard gets the twin touchscreen treatment, stacked one on top of the other in the centre stack   -  S Muralidhar

Super sports SUV Coupe sporting the four rings delivers a mix of physics-defying performance and everyday usability

It is hard to believe today that luxury car makers like Audi were panned for introducing sports utility vehicles. Other Volkswagen group brands Porsche and Lamborghini faced even more heat from purists who thought that the brands had lost the plot by going in that direction. Yet, the fascination for SUVs has been growing in leaps and bounds forcing almost every luxury and super sports brand to build at least one to add to their portfolio. The success of the Lamborghini Urus, and before that of the Porsche Cayenne and Macan only reinforces the lure of the body style and, of course, the brand.

 

So, when Audi launches a super SUV with a 4-litre twin-turbo petrol engine that’s capable of putting out a mind-numbing 600hp and 800Nm, you don’t ask why?, but just say when? For me, that was a few weekends ago in Mumbai… when the virus hadn’t spread out its vicious tentacles yet.

The dashboard gets the twin touchscreen treatment, stacked one on top of the other in the centre stack   -  S Muralidhar

 

Design

The Audi RS Q8 has that squat, wide stance of a sumo wrestler poised to strike. Yet, despite its 2.3-tonne bulk, it has the unmissable body language of nimble-footed aggression writ all over. Remind yourself that this Audi shares its platform with Lamborghini’s super SUV — the Urus, and then it sort of puts the RS Q8’s performance at the Nordschleife in perspective. Capable of a top speed of 305kmph (with the RS dynamic package plus) and a sprint to 100 kmph from standstill in 3.8 seconds, this athletic mammoth was the fastest production SUV at the famous German road and track.

And the fact that it is purpose built for speed and aggression is all too evident in its unique design. The large, single-frame, glossy-black Audi grille and the humongous air intakes in the front define the RS Q8’s fascia. In my test mule these and a few other elements, including the four-ring logo were specified in black. Adding to the mean, sporty stance were the massive 23-inch rims and side air inlets. The exterior design of the RS Q8 gives off this mix of SUV practicality and beastly performance. Its coupe-like profile and the aerodynamic lines, including the steeply sloping bonnet and the RS roof edge spoiler, makes its design sporty and unique. Lots of design signatures are from other Audi RS vehicles like the rear light strip and the RS-specific rear apron; yet there are a lot of model-specific customisation options too.

 

Cabin

The RS Q8 coupe’s cabin is very similar in layout to the standard Q8. Very precise construction, which is almost clinical in its finish, and use of metal and glass gives the cabin typical Audi charm. Yet, even before one taps the throttle, there are multiple hints that you are sitting in a RS model. Starting with the perforated, flat-bottomed RS leather steering wheel with its shift paddles and the sports seats with RS embossing, the model does get its unique elements in the cabin. The dashboard gets the twin touchscreen treatment, stacked one on top of the other in the centre stack. Auto climate control and all usual infotainment functions can be accessed here. My test mule also featured the fantastic B&O sound system with 3D sound.

All the usual luxury features are all offered in the RS Q8. Audi Virtual Cockpit — the addictive, multi-info screen and instrument cluster is just perfect for getting all the key data while zipping past your favourite landmarks. The RS head-up is an optional addition. The virtual cockpit, ambient lighting and air quality package are standard fitment, but a lot of other additions and customisations are possible. What’s an RS without a few panels of carbon-fibre thrown in? The RS Q8 gets a few panels on the dashboard. Rear seats are also sporty and yet comfy, with some fore-aft adjustment and changes to recline angle for the backrest.

Performance

The first part of the drive experience for me was the full-throated and sporty growl from the turbocharged direct injection V8, with an exhaust note to match, even as I negotiated the RS Q8 out of the parking lot. The twin-turbo, TFSI 4-litre engine is incredibly quick, shoving me back into the seat with every prod of the pedal. Acceleration is unrelenting from launch and to say it feels like one of those ultrafast roller coasters taking off would be apt. I got behind the wheel fully expecting to be surprised with its agility and yet found myself white-knuckled and amazed. All along there is a very likeable, dramatic background score coming out of the oval-shaped RS exhaust pipes at the rear.

What a change of pace? The RS Q8’s Drive Select Dynamic Handling System allows you to adjust driving manners according to your preference. Launch control in RS 2 mode is when you realise how quick this Audi can be in a straight line. It does surprise me with its cornering abilities too. All wheel steering is standard, and the 8-speed triptronic gearbox transfers power via the proprietary permanent all-wheel drive Quattro. The RS Q8 is built to take the straights with the curves and without a hint of its weight showing. RS specific damper tuning and electromechanical roll stabilisation (optional addition) makes cornering even more unreal, though the full benefit of all that tech can be enjoyed only on a race track. I managed only to scratch the surface of its capabilities in some of the closed sections of road in the outskirts of Mumbai.

But the RS Q8’s duality was on full display on the way back downtown. As quick as this Audi SUV coupe can be, it can also blend-in and be a frugal plebeian. The on-board mild-hybrid system (MHEV) with a 48-volt main on-board electrical system improves efficiency, but can also be the primary motive power for upto 40 seconds. There is also cylinder-on-demand tech to squeeze some more mileage by turning off cylinders when power needed is lesser.

 

Bottom Line

The suspension set-up and the RS-specific damper tuning enables the RS Q8 to deliver a range of rides from comfort-focused to extremely sporty. Further, despite that frightful contact patch offered up by the wide 295/35 Continental tyres, the ride quality is not uncomfortable. The air suspension helps too, while also allowing the RS Q8 to be raised by upto 90mm to tackle off-road situations.

The Audi RS Q8 is a proper super performance SUV capable of delivering the kind of thrills one expects from a vehicle of this caliber. It helps to know that one can drive it sedately too and hope to benefit from the extra efficiencies the vehicle can deliver. My test mule returned 6.8 kmpl after a mix of hard driving, highway cruising and a bit of being stuck in city traffic. Priced at about ₹2.1 crore, the RS Q8 is certainly expensive and there are other options in that price range. But, then again this is a super SUV, that shares its genes with a Lambo!

Published on April 29, 2021

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