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Audi RS Q8

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Coupe with Attitude |

Future is an Attitude. This is the newly announced marketing approach of the Audi brand – a future-oriented perspective which will ultimately include an electric, digitalised and emotional outlook – and the RSQ8, top model in the Q SUV product line and prestigious spearhead of the RS family, forms part of this campaign.

With its huge octagonal Singleframe and high gloss black RS-specific honeycomb grille, the RS Q8 is imposing, with an assertive and self-confident aura that represents the innovative power of the brand – making it easy to see why the big Q has been included in the new communication campaign.

Its bold face has an air of controlled aggression, and this combined with the side air inlets and traditional blade in high gloss black hints at the latent performance of the large SUV coupé, further emphasised by the sloping roofline and quattro blisters above the wheel arches.

With grey RS-specific trim strips, the RS Q8 is 10 mm wider than its lesser siblings up front and 5 mm at the rear, providing space for a more generous track. Other RS attributes include a roof edge spoiler, a rear skirt with diffuser clip in high gloss black and huge oval exhaust tailpipes. 

Contributing further to the brooding presence and attitude of our Orca Black Metallic test unit (the paint is a R4,620 extra) was a black styling package option (R32,400), black roof rails (R6,270), Audi Rings and nameplates in gloss black (R6,700), black exterior mirror housings (R1,620) and RS ceramic brakes with blue brake calipers (R202,000). In total, the options tallied R389,780 – the price of a Polo 1.0 TSI Highline, with change.

Tinted HD Matrix LED headlights and LED taillights (with genuinely superior illuminating qualities at night) are standard and include dynamic turn signals. The flagship Q also delivers a mesmerising light animation, lasting a good couple of seconds when the car is locked or unlocked.

Big, yet fast and agile

The most powerful SUV coupé from Audi is motivated by a 4.0-litre biturbo V8 delivering 441 kW and 800 Nm of neck-snapping torque between 2,200 and 4,500 rpm, and a mild-hybrid system (MHEV) than can recover up to 12 kW of power during deceleration and braking and store it in the compact lithium-ion battery.

It is fast, very fast, and with the eight-speed tiptronic ’box in RS-Mode and sport exhaust system barking ferociously, it dashes from 0 to 100 km/h in just 3.8 seconds and to 200 km/h in 13.7 seconds. Its electronically governed top speed of 250 km/h can be optionally extended to 280 km/h.

The whole process, though, is so clinical and precise that from a driving perspective it is strangely uninvolving. Put your foot down, and the big coupé just makes things happen. Some nifty MHEV efficiency measures include coasting for up to 40 seconds with the engine off, start/stop operation at a speed of up to 22 km/h and the deactivation of four cylinders when the engine is not under load.

This interplay of the MHEV components improves ride comfort and can reduce fuel consumption by up to 0.8 litres per 100 km. The immense power of the 4.0 TFSI is conveyed to the tarmac by a quattro permanent all-wheel drive system, seamlessly directing up to 70 percent of power to the front wheels and up to 85 percent to the rear wheels.

The adaptive air suspension with controlled damping – that can lift the ride height by up to 90 mm – and electromechanical active roll stabilisation (EAWS) is pretty similar to the Porsche Cayenne Turbo setup, making the RS Q8 equally at home on the track or the trail (not that you will easily find one off-road, due to the low-profile 23-inch tyres). 

To aid agility, the Q8 also employs all-wheel steering (optional on the Cayenne Turbo), with the rear wheel turning up to 5 degrees opposite to the direction of the front wheels at low speed, while at high speeds, turning up to 1.5 degrees in the same direction as the fronts. 

With all these systems, it really does feel like the coupe shrinks in size in the corners but with virtually no body-roll the experience becomes remote and artificial, and even while you can somewhat influence its character via the drive select profiles (comfort, auto, dynamic, efficiency, allroad, offroad and RS-specific modes RS1 and RS2), I still struggled to emotionally connect with the car.

Last word

The RS Q8 is a highly competent vehicle, seamlessly combining RS-power with the elegance of a premium coupé and the flexibility of an SUV. It’s got attitude, and it is a worthy contender in a highly competitive class. For those who prefer more of a white knuckle drive, it may feel too clinical, too aloof, and too uninvolving to get lyrical about. Within its target market, though, this is an exceptional vehicle that oozes class, style and status.  

Report by Ferdi de Vos | Images ©Audi AG

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