The sportiest Q: the new Audi RS Q8

The new Audi RS Q8 is the top model in the Q SUV product line. It combines the power of an RS model with the elegance of a premium coupé and the flexibility of an SUV. For the first time in the history of Audi RS models, Audi is offering a large SUV coupé with the genes of a true high-performance sports car on the road. With its biturbo V8 petrol engine, the Audi RS Q8 is the prestigious spearhead of the Audi RS model family and will officially go on sale in South Africa from 1 April 2021.

Maximum power and high efficiency: the engine

441 kW, 800 Nm of torque between 2,200 and 4,500 rpm – the 4.0 litre V8 in the new Audi RS Q8 delivers impressive RS performance. The turbocharged petrol engine with direct injection accelerates the large SUV coupé from 0 to 100 km/h in just 3.8 seconds and to 200 km/h in 13.7 seconds. The 250 km/h top speed is electronically governed and can be optionally extended to 280 km/h.

Its 1-3-7-2-6-5-4-8 ignition sequence gives the 4.0 TFSI a sportily voluminous sound. As is typical for the Audi RS models, the dual exhaust system features an impressive oval tailpipe on each side. The driver can influence the engine’s sound via the Audi drive select system. The standard RS sport exhaust system with black tailpipe trims offers an even sportier sound.

The biturbo V8 in the new RS Q8 combines maximum performance and high efficiency. Its mild-hybrid system (MHEV) is based on a 48-volt main electrical system. The core of the MHEV is a belt alternator-starter connected to the crankshaft. During deceleration and braking, it can recover up to 12 kW of power and store it in the compact lithium-ion battery. If the driver takes their foot off the accelerator at a speed between 55 and 160 km/h, the drive management selects one of two solutions depending on the driving situation and the current setting of the Audi drive select dynamic handling system: The new RS Q8 recuperates or coasts for up to 40 seconds with the engine off. The belt alternator starter starts the engine within fractions of a second when the accelerator is actuated. MHEV technology allows for start/stop operation at a speed of up to 22 km/h. The interplay of the MHEV components improves ride comfort and also has the potential to reduce fuel consumption in everyday driving by as much as 0.8 litres per 100 kilometres.

Another efficiency module on board is the cylinder on demand (COD) system. At low to intermediate load and rpm in the upper gears, it deactivates cylinders 2, 3, 5 and 8 by switching off fuel injection and ignition and closing the intake and exhaust valves. The switching process takes just milliseconds, and is virtually imperceptible in the car. During four-cylinder operation, the operating points of the active cylinders shift to higher loads and map points with high efficiency, while the deactivated cylinders run largely loss-free as gas springs. They are reactivated immediately when the driver presses the accelerator.

The power of the 4.0 TFSI flows to the quattro permanent all-wheel drive system via the standard eight-speed tiptronic. Configured as a planetary gear, the purely mechanical centre differential typically distributes the drive power in a 40:60 ratio to the front and rear axles. In the event of slip, more drive torque automatically goes to the axle with the better traction. Up to 70 percent can be directed to the front wheels and up to 85 percent to the rear wheels.

Ready for anything: the suspension

The five-link construction at the front and rear axles handle longitudinal and lateral forces separately. The linkages and the subframes are made largely of aluminium. The SUV coupé has a track of 1,692 millimetres up front and 1,696 millimetres at the rear.

The standard adaptive air suspension sport with controlled damping means the new RS Q8 is equally at home on the racetrack or an offroad trail. Its RS-specific damper tuning allows for a particularly broad spread between a setup biased toward comfort and an extremely sporty setup. Depending on driving situation and the driver’s wishes, the body’s ride height varies by up to 90 millimetres.

The optional electromechanical active roll stabilization (EAWS) minimize body roll during fast cornering. There is a compact electric motor between the two halves of the stabilizer on each of the two axles. When driving straight ahead, the two halves of the stabilizer are decoupled, which reduces body movement on uneven roads and also increases ride comfort. During cornering, however, the focus is on optimum roll compensation. The halves of the stabilizer are twisted in opposite directions, which significantly reduces vehicle lean while cornering. The electromechanical active roll stabilization is integrated in the 48-volt main electrical system and serves as a recuperating system. It can even recover power via the electric motors and thereby feed electrical energy back to the battery.

The standard all-wheel steering moves the rear wheels via a high-torque electric spindle drive and two track rods. At low speeds, the rear wheels turn up to 5 degrees opposite the direction of the front wheels for greater agility. At high speeds, they turn up to 1.5 degrees in the same direction as the front wheels to improve stability during fast lane changes.

With variable ground clearance, short overhangs, quattro permanent all-wheel drive and hill descent control, the new Audi RS Q8 can carry on calmly and confidently when paved roads end.

The driver can precisely influence the character of the RS Q8 via the Audi drive select dynamic handling system. There are eight profiles from which to choose: comfort, auto, dynamic, efficiency, allroad, offroad and the individually configurable RS-specific modes RS1 and RS2, which can be activated directly via the “RS-MODE” button on the steering wheel. Audi drive select affects such things as engine and transmission management, steering boost, the air suspension, all-wheel steering, engine sound and the characteristic of the automatic air conditioning.

The new RS Q8 comes standard with 23-inch aluminium wheels in a 5 Y-spoke rotor design with 295/35-series tyres. Behind the large wheels is an RS brake system with internally vented composite disks (420 millimetres) up front, 370 millimetres at the rear. Their 10-inch piston calipers are painted red as standard. The calipers of the optional RS ceramic brakes are available in blue and measure 440 millimetres up front and 370 millimetres at the rear.

Self-confident: the exterior

With its imposing octagonal Singleframe, the RS-specific radiator grille in high gloss black and the gloss black RS honeycomb grille, the new Audi RS Q8 sports a strikingly self-confident face. This combined with the solid side air inlets and the blade in high gloss black perfectly highlights the athletic character of the large SUV coupé from Audi.

The sloping roofline flows into the forward-canted D-pillars and rests against the quattro blisters above the wheel arches. RS-specific trim strips in the body colour widen the body by 10 millimetres up front and 5 millimetres in the rear, providing space for the more generous track. The continuous RS sills come standard in Manhattan grey, which makes the body appear even more athletic. An RS roof edge spoiler provides a striking finish at the top; design highlights closer to the road are the RS-specific rear skirt with a diffuser clip in high gloss black and the RS-typical oval tailpipes. The RS roof edge spoiler provides downforce on the rear axle for even balance at high speeds.

The new Audi RS Q8 is available in a choice of nine colours: one solid paint finish and eight metallic or pearl effect shades. The exterior mirror housings come standard with aluminium look and include black or carbon available as options. The aluminium and carbon styling packages set precise accents at the radiator grille, blades, diffuser clip and rear light strip (carbon only). 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. The Audi exclusive program offers numerous additional customization options as well.

The standard tinted HD Matrix LED headlights have a three-dimensional daytime running lights signature with a digital character, similar to the LED tail lights. A light strip backed by a high-gloss black surface joins the rear lights, further emphasizing the wide stance. The HD Matrix LED headlights and the rear lights include dynamic turn signals and are showcased by an expressive RS-specific animation when the car is locked or unlocked.

Spacious sportiness: the interior

The interior of the new RS Q8 features a deliberately clean design. All elements beneath the black cloth headlining have a logical connection and harmonize with one another. The slim instrument panel and the strongly horizontal lines convey a feeling of spaciousness. The central element in the cockpit is the top MMI touch response display. With its black-panel look, it almost dissolves into a large, black surface when switched off.

Another primary design element is the wide, symmetrical console of the centre tunnel. Framing it are design elements in Aluminium Race, anthracite, which underscore the sporty character of the large SUV coupé.

Special RS displays in the Audi virtual cockpit and MMI display provide information on such things as tyre pressure, torque, output, temperature, lap times and g-forces. The shift light display prompts the driver to upshift when the rev limit is reached. The standard head-up display also offers several RS-specific graphics.

The sport seats in Valcona leather with honeycomb pattern and RS fit perfectly into the athletic and premium ambiance of the large SUV coupé. In addition to a massage function, the RS sport seats are perforated to also provide ventilation.

They come standard in black, with an option for cognac. The RS styling package includes red contrasting stitching on the knee pads, steering wheel rim, floor mats, selector lever and on the edges of the seat belts. The centre console, selector lever and steering wheel are covered in Alcantara while the upper side of the instrument panel including head-up display cover, door panels and armrests in the doors, are all covered in black Fine Nappa leather.

There is an RS logo on the steering wheel. The illuminated front door sill trims sport an RS Q8 logo. The fully perforated RS sport leather steering wheel flattened at the bottom (as part of the RS styling package) with shift paddles, also includes multifunction buttons. The driver can directly select the new Audi drive select modes RS1 and RS2 via the RS-Mode button. RS-specific displays then open automatically in the Audi virtual cockpit.

The RS Q8 also demonstrates its uncompromised everyday usability in the rear. A sliding three-seat rear bench is standard. With the seat backrests folded down, the luggage compartment under the power rear hatch holds up to 1,755 litres.

Connected for safety: the assist systems and infotainment

The new Audi RS Q8 supports the driver in many situations. The comprehensive range of standard assist systems includes such things as the adaptive cruise assist, efficiency assist, intersection assist, lane change warning including pre-sense rear, exit warning system and rear cross traffic assist and 360 degree cameras, head-up display also comes standard.

The services in the Audi connect portfolio offer customized information and intelligent assistance. The RS Q8 is equipped with the top infotainment system MMI navigation plus as standard, which exploits the full potential of Audi connect. The navigation system offers satellite images and takes predictions on the development of the traffic situation, weather, parking availability and point of interest search information into account.

If the car is driven by multiple drivers, up to six users can save their individual settings – from frequently selected destinations to their preferred lighting – in separate profiles. The data is uploaded to the customer’s myAudi account in the cloud and stored there for their access via the app. The car adjusts the individual settings when the driver’s door is opened. This convenient personalization feature comes as standard with the Audi RS Q8.

The Audi connect functionality also includes Car2X services which consists of standard safety and service features in the event of damage, breakdown or minor accidents. This functionality (through a built-in emergency button in the vehicle’s roof module) allows an emergency safety or service call to an Audi call centre to support in any event. Additional functionality, accessible through the MyAudi application, includes remote functions that network the RS Q8 with the driver’s smartphone. This includes car finder, remote lock/unlocking, speed and theft alerts, to mention a few.

Local pricing and availability

The new Audi RS Q8 will officially go on sale in South Africa from 1 April 2021 and is priced as follows (inclusive of all taxes) and comes standard with a five year Audi Freeway Plan:

Audi RS Q8 TFSI quattro           R2,354,500