Q Fast

OneShift Editorial Team
OneShift Editorial Team
14 Jun 2021
"... the RS Q8 lapped the Nürburgring Nordschleife in 7:42.253 minutes, which, would you believe, is around 5 seconds faster than its more powerful, more aggressive sister, the Lamborghini Urus."
What we like:
pros
Engineering has to be admired - the car does perform. It has extremely high build quality and interior materials are plush. There is an avant garde air to its SUV coupe style that doesn’t degrade to sloping rooflines. Ride quality is fantastic even on 23 inch rims. Somewhat efficient for 600 PS.
What we dislike:
cons
Everything just feels a bit too excessive. There is too much weight and too much technology to compensate for it.

There are things that we need for life, like water and food. Then there are things that we really don’t need, like the RS Q8. A niche within a niche, the Q8 is already an unusual SUV coupe mashup, and giving it Audi Sport GmbH flavour makes one wonder who actually buys these guzzling behemoths.

The thing is, I quite like the Q8 because it is far more interesting a design than the Q7 could ever be. Categories aside, it is quite a handsome-looking SUV with macho, blocky proportions. It is avant-garde to the Q7’s utilitarian. The RS-specific parts don’t do very much for me, but they do make the car look like it’s about to gobble you up from the rear-view mirror. The trick light shows from the headlights and tail lights will certainly draw attention at night. However, with the Audi logo blacked out within the octagonal Singleframe (also black), it seems the RS Q8 is almost shy in showing what brand it represents.

There may be some truth to this, for the RS Q8 lapped the Nürburgring Nordschleife in 7:42.253 minutes, which, would you believe, is around 5 seconds faster than its more powerful, more aggressive sister, the Lamborghini Urus. That is a huge leap in Green Hell terms. Sant'Agata Bolognese wouldn’t have been too pleased with that. Whether it is actually down to a faster driver or other extenuating factors, it leaves no doubt that the RS Q8 is in the ranks of one of the fastest SUVs in the world, if it isn’t already the fastest.

Inside

As if built to accommodate all shapes and sizes, the RS Q8’s interior is wide with plenty of space for all. Unlike other SUV coupes, the RS Q8 doesn’t have an awkward sloping roofline, so headroom and boot space are excellent. I loaded up a fairly large table with ease when the rear seats were folded down. It’s the driver that will suffer come parking, for the RS Q8 will struggle to fit into a standard HDB parking lot. You would probably have to owe a few apologies to the drivers parked next to you.

Otherwise, quality is extremely high and there is little to fault. There are a few RS specific menus on the MMI, but other than a few RS badges around the interior it is pretty much like what you would find in a standard Q8. The optional B&O system is above average, but perhaps not worth the $26k premium.

If anything, there is just a lot of technology to learn and get used to. Controls aren’t as intuitive or tactile as a button as almost everything is digital. If you are particular, the screens and black piano surfaces will also attract a lot of fingerprints.

The Drive

Just by stats alone you know the RS Q8 is an unhinged car. 2.3 tons is being propelled by 600 PS and 800 Nm. The century sprint is accomplished in 3.8 seconds. The numbers are just staggering, and well, you would be impressed with how the car manages to perform with all that weight.

The odds are stacked against the RS Q8 being a sports car, but it does make a mighty good impression. The bi-turbo 4.0-litre V8 is just brilliant for pottering around as well as full-bore, redline shifts. There is power everywhere; it is ruthlessly efficient and majestically muscular. The sound is baritone and builds to an angry roar at full chat. It is even fairly efficient when compared to the standard Q8’s 3.0-litre V6, perhaps because it has cylinder deactivation while the smaller engine doesn’t. I averaged 4.8 km/l with mostly urban driving.

In all conditions the car rides extremely well, bearing in mind that it wears the largest rims ever fitted to any Audi. Adaptive air suspension comes standard, so you can get a rather firm ride if you so wish, or an impossibly serene one in comfort. It’s definitely usable every day, but noise levels are a tad higher than in the Q7, possibly due to the frameless windows. It’s still as quiet and refined as the top echelon luxury cars in its class.

Yet don’t mistake it for being another anodyne Audi. Equipped with all-wheel steering, active roll stabilisation and quattro with sport differential - basically brimmed with all the technology one could muster - the RS Q8 can and will bludgeon its weight into submission. There is a sense of heftiness, but it is always reigned in by the clever invisible hands that somehow make the car dance like a ballerina when it should be as clumsy as an elephant.

All wheel steering improves maneuverability significantly, making car park turns easier while also upping agility when cornering. I can’t say I felt the roll stabilisation working, but the car does indeed maintain a level headedness even when its suspension is set to the softest mode. As for the sport differential, one gets the sense that the AWD system is definitely more interactive than inert, like the best examples of its kind out there. This allows some adjustability and even a whiff of oversteer if you try hard enough.

Our Thoughts

The RS Q8 is a statement SUV, and the great thing is the Audi has got the credentials to back it up. Defying odds, it is an admirable feat of engineering that you get to enjoy because much of the technology comes standard, while many rivals still require you to top up to get the same. I still think it is much too excessive in every way, especially for Singapore, but it is definitely not an empty vessel.

Credits: Text and Photos by James Wong

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