We love fast cars, we love SUVs. Combine the two, and you get the most irresistible combination — a high-performance 4WD with the body of an SUV and the spirit of a supercar. Witness Mercedes-Benz’s AMG line of SUVs and M-spec BMWs, both of which offer insane levels of performance. For those who want even more, there’s the Lamborghini Urus, a wild bull of an SUV that runs amok (in a good way) at the slightest provocation. The trio mentioned above already offer sky-high levels of fast SUV madness, and more was probably not required. Someone forgot to tell Audi, though, who’ve gone ahead and upped the ante anyway. With the new RS Q8 super-SUV, they’ve not just pushed the performance envelope, they’ve pretty much ripped it to shreds. If the Urus is a wild bull, think of this Audi as the Matador. The RS Q8 is based on the regular Q8 that was launched in India earlier this year, but with more — much, much more — of everything. For starters, there’s the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 TFSI engine, which produces 600bhp (just 60bhp shy of a Ferrari 488) and 800Nm of torque. This V8, which is also used on the Lambo Urus, is magnificent. Mash the RS Q8’s throttle pedal, and the V8 — working via an 8-speed ‘tiptronic’ automatic transmission — pushes you from zero to 100kph in an astonishing 3.8 seconds (remember, this leviathan weighs more than 2,300kg).
With a rowdy V8 under the hood that’s just waiting to go berserk, Audi had to ensure that other bits on the RS Q8 are capable of keeping things from going completely haywire. Those ‘bits’ include a quattro permanent all-wheel-drive system, with a 40/60 power split between the front and rear wheels. Whenever the system detects loss of grip, it can automatically send up to 70 per cent of the power to the front wheels, and up to 85 per cent to the rear, thereby ensuring maximum traction and stability at all times. There’s also an optional electromechanical anti-roll stabilisation (eAWS) system, which is integrated into the vehicle’s 48-volt electrics; it uses an electric motor to control stabilisers on the front and rear axles to reduce body roll during hard cornering at high speeds.
The RS Q8 looks sharp — crisp cuts and creases define its aggressive bodywork, and there’s always more than a hint of menace in its stance. It isn’t as flamboyant as, say, the Lambo Urus, but with its XXL dimensions and massive, 23-inch wheels, the RS Q8 has undeniable presence. It’s the kind of SUV a young Ambani would drive. It’s a bit shouty, unabashedly flashy, a tiny bit Bollywood kitsch. Definitely not for the shy, this one. We like the all-black treatment at the front, which includes a large grille with the RS badge, a subtle air dam, and LED Matrix headlamps that do an animated dance when you switch on the car. The side profile doesn’t offer much to distinguish this as an RS, but you can’t miss the enormous 23- inch wheels. Its sheer size gives the RS Q8 commanding presence, while the tail light strip and LED tail lamps at the back look smart and ultra modern.
The RS Q8’s cabin looks very futureproof; buyers won’t need to worry about the interiors looking outdated after a year or two, because of the way Audi has built things. The centre console is finished in carbon fibre and includes a start/stop button, hidden cup holders, a chunky drive mode selector, and two large touchscreens for managing the climate control system, and the infotainment functions. These touchscreens blend in perfectly with the glossy dashboard for a smooth, seamless user experience. However, two screens and no physical knobs or buttons may be a bit disconcerting for some drivers, especially those who are a bit tech-phobic. We also like Audi’s configurable virtual cockpit, which provides all the information you need inside the instrument cluster itself, eliminating the need to look at the main touchscreens most of the time. Pure driving thrills are the RS Q8’s main forte but, at the same time, it’s also a family-friendly SUV that will seat four adults in plush comfort. Yes, you can also squeeze in a fifth occupant at the back, but the high transmission tunnel in the centre means that the fifth seat (at the centre of the rear bench) is best suited for children. With every safety feature built in (ABS, traction control, multiple airbags, you name it), the RS Q8 is also one of the safest SUVs around, which, of course, is what you’d expect from Audi.
If you want a very, very fast SUV that’s still practical enough for daily use, the RS Q8 is hard to beat. At Rs 2.07 crore (ex-showroom), it isn’t the most accessible, though. Shockingly enough, prices for the RS Q8 start at the equivalent of Rs 84 lakh in the US, which shows just how much of a premium we in India pay for high-end luxury cars. That being said, we doubt if the price will be a constraint for the RS Q8’s intended set ofcustomers. Indeed, this Audi is all about conspicuous consumption. Fast, flashy, and not afraid to flaunt its charms, this is one hell of a no-holds-barred SUV.