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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

Muscled-up Audi RS Q8 debuts as brand’s most potent petrol SUV

While down on the erstwhile Q7 V12 TDI, the RS Q8, in Performance guise, also becomes Ingolstadt's most powerful petrol vehicle ever made.

An absentee at the unveiling of the facelift model at the IAA in Munich last September, Audi has taken the wraps off of the updated RS Q8 that officially became its most powerful SUV since the diesel engine Q7 V12 TDI.

Record holder

Shown in its original form at the Los Angeles International Auto Show at the end of 2019, the revisions not only build on those of the regular Q8, but include a new Performance variant similar to the RS6 Avant and RS7 Sportback.

ALSO READ: Audi Q8 shows its more aggressive updated self at IAA Munich

Officially the fastest SUV to have rounded the Nürburgring Nordschleife with a time of seven minutes 36.698 seconds, the RS Q8 retains the twin-turbocharged 4.0 TFSI engine with mild-hybrid assistance, but as mentioned, with more power in the case of the Performance.

New outside

Aesthetically, the enhancements comprise standard Matrix LED or optional Matrix laser light diodes, the Audi Sport front apron and Singleframe grille finished in gloss black or matte grey with a honeycomb pattern, the Audi Sport rear bumper and diffuser, and carbon inserts on the Performance.

Audi uprates red-hot RS Q8
Optional bronze alloy wheels can be had on the RS Q8. Image: Audi

Riding on 22-inch Audi Sport alloy wheels with milled Y-spoke 23-inches being optional, the final exterior change involves the addition of three new colours; Sakhir Gold, Chili Red and Ascari Red.


Dynamically, the MLB Evo platform, which also underpins the Q7, Bentley Bentayga, Lamborghini Urus, Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg, receives the 48-volt Active Roll Stabilisation system as standard, along with a retuned RS adaptive air suspension that raises the overall ride height by 90 mm, and the mechanically locking central differential.

Retained are the RS exhaust system and the optional RS Driver’s Package that comprises the RS sport differential, rear axle steering system and the raised top speed from 250 km/h to 280 km/h.

Audi uprates red-hot RS Q8
Key to the RS Q8 Performance’s exterior are mostly gloss black exterior accents. Image: Audi

As before, stopping power comes from a black painted 10-piston caliper setup at the front with disc sizes of 420 mm and 370 mm at the rear.

Optional on the RS Q8, but standard on the Performance are the ceramic brakes comprising 440 mm at the front and 370 mm at the rear discs.

Painted grey as standard, the calipers can optionally be painted red or blue, the former also applying to the RS Q8.

Inside changed

Inside, the carryover changes from the normal Q8 include the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, the 8.6-inch climate control panel and the 10.1-inch MMI infotainment system, the latter with the latest MIB3 software.

Audi RS Q8 range updated
Little has changed inside apart from new colours and material choices. Image: Audi

In fact, mostly material changes have taken place in the form of brushed aluminium, oak wood, carbon twirl or anthracite decorative inserts, with a black aluminium option available for the Performance.

Elsewhere, the steering wheel comes trimmed in Alcantara as standard, while Dinamica micro-fibres made largely out of recycled plastic bottles adorn the gear lever and sides of the centre console.

Audi RS Q8 range updated
RS Design Package offers three colour choices for the interior; grey, the depicted red and Ocean Blue reserved solely for the Performance. Image: Audi

Finally, the RS Design Package brings three colours to the stitching, seats, floor mats, steering wheel, seatbelts, doors and centre console; grey, red and bespoke to the Performance, Ocean Blue.

New Performance

On the power front, 441kW/800Nm continues to be developed by the standard RS Q8, which increases to 471kW/850Nm in the Performance.

Up three kilowatts and 150 Nm down on the Q7 V12 TDI’s 6.0-litre oil-burner, but producing 151 kW more and 50 Nm less than the erstwhile SQ8’s 4.0 TDI V8, the RS Q8 Performance will get from 0-100 km/h in 3.6 seconds and the standard RS Q8 two-tenths of a second slower.

As a further option, the mentioned top speed can be increased from 280 km/h to 305 km/h.

Not yet

Now available in Europe priced from €141 900 (R2 765 565) in Germany with the Performance kicking-off at €155 700 (R3 034 520), the RS Q8, as with the standard Q8, remains unconfirmed for South Africa, although expect it to arrive before year-end if approved.

NOW READ: Can Audi RS Q8 rattle BMW and Mercedes-AMG’s cages?

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