The Audi RS Q8 is the world's fastest production SUV to go around the Nurburgring. It boasts of some fantastic performance figures. It can challenge supercars with its sheer power while the mammoth size makes it a practical daily car. We liked driving the German offering in Tenerife in Spain last year. Remember we went across two continents to tell you the difference between the standard Q8 and the ₹ And now, the performance SUV is on sale in India and its time to put that V8 turbocharged engine through its paces on Indian roads.
Also Read: 2020 Audi RS Q8 Coupe SUV Launched In India
WATCH: Audi RS Q8 India Review: A Blast Of An SUV
To address the bull in the room, the Audi RS Q8 is a sibling of the Lamborghini Urus. While the engine and underpinnings are shared, the RS Q8 has a character of its own. It's more curved than the Italian while sporting razor-sharp lines. It packs more muscle than the standard Q8 and that makes for a distinctive understated stance. There is the RS treatment extended to the grille, bumper and a splitter, all of which are new, while the gothic look replaces the chrome with a gloss black finish to the exterior.
India gets the massive 23-inch alloy wheels running on 295/35 section tyres that are hard to ignore even in this stealth look. Globally, the RS Q8 comes with 22-inches as standard, which are larger than the 21-inch wheels offered on the Urus. The thin sidewalls therefore are vulnerable to damage and you will have to be extremely gentle though or you'll risk scratching them on a bad section of the road. We would certainly not recommend them when going off-road but if you do feel adventurous, tread carefully. Despite being a coupe-SUV, Audi has not gone overboard with the roofline. The gentle curve helps mask the massive proportions but not at the cost of headroom. It also blends more seamlessly with the sharply styled rear with the massive LED brake light running from side-to-side. Don't be fooled by the dual gloss black exhaust tips, the RS Q8 actually gets quad exhausts hiding underneath these.
WATCH: Audi Q8 & RS Q8 - Exclusive Review Across Two Continents
Much of the cabin and features have been carried over from the Q8, but it does get the RS treatment with the gloss black finish on the dashboard and a dash of carbon fibre as well as brushed aluminium. There's a new RS multi-functional, flat-bottom steering wheel for more responsive performance. The steering and gearshift knob get the perforated leather treatment while the seats are covered in Alcantara. Audi offers a multitude of optional extras on the RS Q8 including the Matrix LED headlamps, while our test car also got the Bang & Olufsen speakers, panoramic sunroof, and soft-close doors. The sports seats are optional too and we highly recommend them for the comfort it offers along with features like ventilation, massage function and more bolstering at the sides.
Also Read: Audi RS Q8 Bookings Begin In India
The RS Q8's cabin gets at least three massive screens including the Virtual Cockpit and the dual infotainment display. The Virtual Cockpit works flawlessly and is just brilliant in putting down all the information without having to look elsewhere. The dual touchscreens are massive that replace most of the buttons and dials on the centre console. While it does get the haptic touch to feel more button-like, it takes a while getting used to. That said, we do miss the dials and switches for certain functions. The RS Q8 comes with the 360-degree camera and has as many as eight driving modes. Thankfully, there is a quick-access 'RS' button on the steering wheel that saves you a lot of time and quickly puts you into the sportiest setting.
Despite its performance credentials, the RS Q8 is very much practical and space is aplenty in the second row. The seats are comfortable and adjustable for more legroom. The tall ride offers a good view of the outside world and you get four-zone climate control that allows individual settings for each passenger. To make ingress and egress easy, the RS Q8 can lower itself by 65 mm.
Mind-boggling! Slot the performance SUV in the RS mode and the car sets itself up in the sportiest setting Tap on the accelerator and off you go shooting into the stars. The optional head-up display ensures a distraction-free drive and you can see the tachometer switch to red. Thankfully, the sports seats are bolstered well and hold you in place as the G-forces push you back as you step on the pedal. Your heartbeat and the speedometer are doing triple-digit numbers in no time and you want to come back to that adrenaline-inducing feeling again, and again and again. But there's a reassuring safety net with the high riding position and the massive proportions, not to forget the slew of front, side and rear airbags and several electronic safety aids.
At a little over 2300 kg, this performance SUV is hardly lightweight but there are nearly 600 thoroughbred horses and a whopping 800 Nm of peak torque under that muscular bonnet from the 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8. Torque kicks in from as low as 2200 rpm and the motor growls, rumbles and is ready to roar.
Audi says that 0-100 kmph comes up in 3.8 seconds, and the optional rear sport differential equipped on our test car did bring us close to that figure. To give you perspective, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo with the Sport Chrono package hits the 0-100 kmph sprint in 3.9 seconds, while the BMW X6 M does the same in 4.2 seconds. The Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S does an identical 3.8 seconds (4 seconds on the standard version). The top speed is electronically limited to 250 kmph but add that RS dynamic package and the engine unlocks a top speed of 305 kmph.
Power on the RS Q8 is transferred to the wheels from the 8-speed torque convertor via the Quattro drivetrain. The transmission is a surprising choice considering this is Audi's flagship SUV but manages to do the job it is designed for. However, there is a slight delay in shifting cogs than you would want. That's more apparent when you are driving it in the comfort or efficiency mode when the delay, only by a millisecond, is most felt when trying to overtake. Of course, the shifts are for more immediate in the dynamic and RS mode, while you can take matters into your own hands with the paddle shifters. The first six gears are short-spaced for more responsive acceleration and the engine just loves being revved at high rpms.
That being said, the Audi RS Q8 is equally civilised when you want half of the power available. More than its outrageous performance at high speeds, it is the ease to drive it within city limits that surprised me the most. The SUV will feel right at home on an office commute, especially in the comfort or efficiency mode and you could take it to a race track over the weekend. In fact, a bit of sedate driving coupled with a 48-volt mild-hybrid and cylinder deactivation technology will help you achieve just about 9 kmpl; if efficiency concerns you that is.
Ride and Handling
The RS Q8 is big and there's no way you can downplay this at five metres in length and two metres wide. However, what surprises you is how nimble it really is. The SUV cocoons itself around the driver and that is confidence-inspired allowing you to push harder. The flat-bottom steering wheel weighs up excellently and is extremely responsive to feedback. This isn't just a straight-line king, the RS Q8 is equally fun around the corners and the optional active anti-roll bars help maintain agility. The sport differential also optimises power to the rear wheels to get you in and out of the bend without much drama. Due must be given to the rear-wheel steering that steers the wheels up to 5 degrees, complemented by the wide low-profile tyres that offer incredible grip.
Despite the large, low-profile rubber, the RS Q8 is a fairly comfortable car to be in. Of course, you just can't go flat-out over a pothole-ridden road unless you want to damage those super-expensive wheels, but on the whole, the air suspension works hard with the rest of the electronics to minimise road undulations creeping into the cabin. The SUV also gets some of the biggest brakes we've seen on cars from Audi with a 440 mm unit at the front and a 370 mm disc at the rear. The brakes are extremely responsive to the input and the SUV just stops in its tracks in no time. It lets you brake later and harder than you would originally anticipate.
Price and Verdict
The Audi RS Q8 carries a price tag of ₹ 2.07 crore (ex-showroom) and that's just for the standard version. There are plenty of optional extras like the RS dynamic package, ceramic brakes, rear sport differential, sports seats and lots more that we think you would want to spend on. It certainly adds so much more to the driving experience and even at an on-road price well over the ₹ 3 crore mark, it is money well spent. Compared to the Urus, Audi's flagship is more affordable by ₹ 1 crore and less ostentatious too. The RS Q8 is elegant, suave, outrageously fast and every bit desirable. It is on par with the modern-day supercars but pushes the envelope with its practicality. It is one of the best things to arrive on Indian shores from foreign soil and quite the silver lining in 2020. Are Super SUVs the new normal? If yes, then sign us up, please!