by Ian Wright
Enthusiasts talk about the ideal three-car garage, but there is another option. Instead, you could keep your single-car garage and spend the money saved on just one vehicle that combines the power and handling of a supercar, the space and utility of an SUV, and the comfort and technology of a luxury car: the Audi RS Q8. The RS Q8 is a midsize coupe super-SUV living in the same world as the BMW X6 M, Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe, and its close relative, the Lamborghini Urus, among a plethora of other super-powered crossovers in an ever-growing segment.
A brutal 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 makes 591 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque, delivered to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission, catapulting the RS Q8 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds. Outside, the RS Q8's dramatic coupe-style aesthetic is a feast for the eyes. Inside is a ton of space with just about every piece of Audi technology available and accessed through several touch screens.
To see how it stacks up, Audi sent us a 2022 RS Q8 for a week-long test drive.
Audi has made a few changes to its hottest SUV for the 2022 model year. The RS Q8 now gets adaptive cruise assist with traffic jam assist and active lane assist as standard. As part of the optional Executive Package, traffic sign recognition and intersection assist are now available. Audi is also offering an available RS-design package in either red or gray. This package includes unique seat belts and floor mats, an Alcantara steering wheel with contrast stitching, and more Alcantara on the gear shifter and center console.
See trim levels and configurations:
|4.0 TFSI quattro||
4.0L Twin-Turbo V8 Gas
The Audi may just be the best-looking SUV in its segment. Whereas the Q7 has always looked like it needs to go on a diet, the Q8 has much tighter and sharper proportions. The RS Q8 turns up the heat with 22-inch alloy wheels and HD Matrix-design LED headlights. At the back, there's a body-color rear spoiler, a diffuser, and large oval exhaust outlets that are unique to RS Audis. The RS treatment also extends to unique bumpers and more aggressive side sills. Enormous 23-inch alloys are available optionally, as is a Black optic package or a Carbon optic package.
The Audi RS Q8 is similar in size to the BMW X6 M; the Bimmer is a bit wider and the Audi is a bit longer. The dimensions include a length of 197.3 inches, a height of 66.7 inches, a width with mirrors of 86.2 inches, and a 117.9-inch wheelbase. At 5,490 pounds, the Audi is a heavy beast and over 100 lbs heavier than the X6 M. Just as well, then, that it's hardly short of power.
Eight colors make up the RS Q8's palette. Nardo Grey is free but you'll have to pay $595 extra for metallics like Dragon Orange, Florett Silver, Galaxy Blue, Glacier White, Matador Red, Mytho Black, and Navarra Blue. Daytona Gray pearl is also $595. For $4,800, Audi will paint your RS Q8 in one of its exclusive colors, which, for the 2021 model year, include vivid hues like Nogaro Blue, Sepang Blue, Citrus Yellow Uni, and Merlin Pearl. With the black optic package, 23-inch wheels, and the Daytona Gray paint, the RS Q8 is a stealthy chunk of SUV that is sure to turn heads.
The Audi RS Q8 is offered with just one engine choice but it's all you'll ever need. The 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 makes 591 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque. Allied to the quattro all-wheel-drive system, the RS Q8 will effortlessly launch itself from 0-60 mph in only 3.7 seconds. It'll reach a top speed of 174 mph or 190 mph when equipped with the carbon-ceramic brakes. Despite the RS Q8 not being the shoutiest SUV around, it's this inherent refinement that can fool you into thinking you're going slower than you actually are. As quick as the Audi is, both the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe and the BMW X6 M Competition will match it in a straight line, as will the Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe. If you have an extra $65,000 or so to burn, the Cayenne Turbo GT will manage the benchmark sprint in a ridiculous 3.1 seconds. In late 2019, the RS Q8 set a new production SUV lap record around the Nurburgring with a time of seven minutes and 42.2 seconds. However, the Cayenne Turbo GT has since swept this record aside.
With so much performance potential, it's easy to forget that the RS Q8 is a highly capable SUV too. With the towing package equipped, it has a towing capacity of up to 7,700 lbs.
Mechanically unchanged this year, Audi continues with its 4.0-liter TFSI twin-turbo V8, which generates outstanding outputs of 591 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. It's paired exclusively with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Those heady numbers may lead you to believe that the RS Q8 is an unmanageable beast to drive, but the reality is quite different. Audi likes to wrap everything in two or three layers of refinement, so the RS Q8 is a composed SUV. The V8's burble is appealing but not quite animalistic. However, the power generated is intoxicating and never in short supply.
The 4.0-liter TFSI twin-turbo V8 is the headliner on the RS Q8, but the 8-speed transmission and all-wheel-drive system are what make sure none of its 591 horses are wasted. The transmission is smooth, even when all of the torque and horsepower are being thrown at it at once. With launch control engaged, the all-wheel-drive system does an exemplary job of delivering the power to the road as the rear suspension squats and the front rears. It's comically quick how rapidly it fires you at the horizon, but also an insanely effective manner of getting 5,500 lbs down any given road.
The Audi RS Q8 has plenty of ways to adjust the drive settings, but ultimately it has two distinct states on the road. One is deliciously smooth comfort, and the other is frantic grin-inducing brutalism. As a day-to-day driver, the driving experience is well insulated while the adaptive air suspension smooths out even the roughest of roads. The only noise creeping through is the sound of the wide sticky tires on the tarmac, but it's a testament to engineering that the big wheels and low-profile tires aren't allowed to make the ride jarring at any point. The transmission makes itself invisible. Acceleration is smooth and easily controlled, while the quick steering, equipped with rear-axle steering as a bonus, makes the large crossover surprisingly maneuverable and nimble on city streets.
Poke the accelerator aggressively, though, and the RS Q8 roars into a different state of mind. The front lifts up, and the scenery starts passing by at a rate supercar drivers are much more used to. Dynamic mode makes the transformation stick as the air suspension hunkers down and the transmission starts changing gears ridiculously quick. The grip seems never-ending thanks to technology like the torque-vectoring rear differential and electronically controlled anti-roll bars. The engine is relentless in its power delivery and eagerness to just keep accelerating. The brakes are confidence-inspiring in shaving off speed for the next corner or coming to a stop quickly.
Getting stuck into back roads, and it seems absurd that a big crossover can chew up and spit out corners with such confidence. A supercar may be able to lay down more performance, but like a supercar, the RS Q8 needs to be taken to a track to be fully exploited. After a while, calling the RS Q8 an SUV or crossover seems nonsensical, and we started thinking of it more like a massively oversized hot hatchback with a dose of hyperspeed imbued in its soul.
There's a price to pay for the RS Q8's performance and you'll be reminded of it each time you visit the pumps. The SUV's gas mileage figures work out to 13/19/15 mpg city/highway/combined. Even with a fairly large 22.5-gallon gas tank, your range will be restricted to about 337 miles. Then again, the BMW X6 M is no better on average and will manage just 13/18/15 mpg.
Audi knows how to make its driver feel special even before you've turned the key. The RS Q8's cabin feels truly special, both in its design and in the choice of materials used. The replacement of many physical controls with touchscreens certainly looks high-tech, although it doesn't always make for the most user-friendly experience. At least a traditional volume knob remains. The leather-upholstered RS sports seats are lovely, as are the vivid virtual cockpit and the sport RS steering wheel. It's also feature-packed with goodies like multicolor ambient lighting, four-zone climate control, heated/ventilated front seats, and a 360-degree camera system.
While the interior is spacious, a fifth passenger will feel compressed in the center of the back seat. It works better as a four-seater, but the sloping roof for a coupe-like shape does eat a little headroom in the back. Fortunately, Audi circumvented much of the problem by lowering the mounting points of the rear seat to leave 38.1 inches of headspace. While there is enough legroom in the back, shorter people and kids will be far happier than a couple of six-foot-tall adults. It's nice in the back, but up at the front is where you want to be with all the legroom and the uber-comfortable front seats that support the body well - including when the RS Q8 is in full attack mode.
The standard Valcona perforated leather seats have sporty honeycomb stitching and are available in Black with Express Red stitching, Black with Rock Gray stitching, Black on its own, or Cognac Brown with Granite Gray stitching. Carbon Twill Matte inlays are standard but can be replaced with high-gloss Gray Oak wood inlays at no cost.
Several packages are available to customize the interior. The RS Design package in red adds an Alcantara steering wheel with red stitching, an Alcantara gear shifter, and more. A gray version of this package is also offered. With the optional Luxury package, the cabin is decked out in extended leather which covers the center console, door armrests, and the top of the instrument panel. Whether or not you add one of these packages, the RS Q8 has a beautifully built interior.
Behind the second row of seats, the Audi RS Q8 has 30.5 cubic feet of space. Although this is a reasonable amount of space and more than you get in the BMW X6 M, the sloping rear end means that the trunk is quite shallow so a large suitcase will have to lie flat in order to close the tailgate. Cargo capacity nearly doubles when you fold down the 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats, freeing up 60.7 cubes.
Smaller items can be stored in the large door pockets, although the storage space beneath the central armrest isn't particularly large. Cupholders are provided for both front and rear occupants.
This is the most expensive Audi Q8 you can buy and as such, it's especially well-stocked with convenience and safety kit. Standard feature highlights extend to four-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable front seats with both heating and ventilation, a power-adjustable steering column, a power tailgate, and a panoramic sunroof. A multi-color LED ambient lighting system is smartly executed, while the driver benefits from an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a top-view camera system. The RS Q8 also gets wireless phone charging, blind-spot monitoring, and forward collision alert. The optional Executive package adds high-end gear like heated rear seats, a head-up display, soft-closing doors, and intersection assist, while the Luxury package includes front-seat massage and electric sunblinds for the rear side windows.
There's a lot going on up front in the RS Q8, and its centerpiece is a 10.1-inch touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Audi's MMI Navigation Plus with natural voice recognition as standard. Also standard is Bluetooth connectivity, a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot, SiriusXM satellite radio, and a Bang & Olufson sound system featuring 17 speakers. The sound system can be upgraded to Bang & Olufsen's superb 23-speaker 3D sound system with 1,920 watts. The instrument cluster is fully digital and can be used to show navigation and infotainment detail, while the lower screen on the center stack is dedicated to climate functionality. There's a learning curve associated with it, and we'd prefer physical buttons for some functions, but it eventually feels relatively natural to navigate.
At the time of writing, there were no recalls for the 2022 Audi RS Q8. However, the 2021 model has been recalled three times according to the NHTSA. The issues were for rear axle lock nuts that could break, the engine cylinder bore surface that could develop cracks leading to a stall or oil leak, and a seat belt locking retractor malfunction.
Audi's limited warranty runs for four years or 50,000 miles, while the drivetrain is covered for the same period and distance. Roadside assistance runs for the first four years.
Although the high-performance RS Q8 hasn't been evaluated for crash safety by the NHTSA, the regular Q8 was partially reviewed. It attained a five-star rating for the frontal crash test and a four-star rating for the rollover test. The review of the 2021 Audi Q8 had these same ratings as well as a five-star score for the side crash and an overall five-star rating. We see no reason that the 2022 RS Q8 won't match this fine performance. At the IIHS, the 2021 Audi Q8 was rated as a Top Safety Pick, although this rating only applied to models with specific headlights.
Audi has improved the RS Q8's safety specification for the 2022 model year. It now comes standard with adaptive cruise assist, traffic jam assist, and active lane assist. Other standard features include Audi pre sense front/basic/rear, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and a top-view camera system. The airbag suite includes side airbags for all occupants, along with curtain airbags. Opting for the Executive package adds intersection assist, a head-up display, and traffic sign recognition. A separate option is night vision assistance that can detect large animals and pedestrians, thereby alerting the driver both visually and audibly.
While the Audi RS Q8 SUV is a cousin to the Lamborghini Urus, it's a very different animal that doesn't carry the obnoxiousness of the Italian supercar brand. It's a little down on power over the Urus, but only Urus buyers will care about that. The fact is that the RS Q8 goes like a bat out of hell, has a sublimely brilliant chassis and suspension setup, one of Audi's finest cabins yet, and a family-load of cargo space in the back. It also pulls off a trick that Audi has seemingly perfected - it's stylish and classy enough to roll passengers up to a red carpet but downplayed enough not to draw too much attention in traffic. For a super crossover, we're convinced it's as close to perfect as an automaker has got so far.
If you want a single takeaway point from our Audi RS Q8 review, it's this - there is no better crossover that blends luxury, refinement, and performance in a single practical package.
The price of the Audi RS Q8 starts at an MSRP of $115,400. This price excludes options, taxes, licensing, registration, and a destination charge of $1,095. The RS Q8 has a longer options list than most Audis so it is possible to load it with extras to the point that you'd be spending north of $150,000.
The 2022 RS Q8 is available in a single trim. It is powered by a 4.0L twin-turbo V8 engine developing 591 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. Paired with an eight-speed automatic gearbox and quattro AWD, this Audi SUV will reach 60 mph in a sports car-like 3.7 seconds. An RS-tuned adaptive air suspension and all-wheel steering are standard.
Outside, the Audi gets 22-inch wheels, HD Matrix-design LED headlights, a panoramic sunroof, aluminum roof rails, dual oval tailpipes, and a body-color rear spoiler.
The cabin features classy honeycomb-patterned leather upholstery. Both front seats are heated, ventilated, and power-adjustable. A 12.8-inch OLED touchscreen interface is complemented by Audi's virtual cockpit plus instrument cluster with graphics unique to this RS. Standard features include four-zone automatic climate control, wireless device charging, a top-view camera system, adaptive cruise control, a Bang & Olufsen 3D premium sound system, and a power-adjustable tilt and telescoping steering column.
Although the average Porsche remains more customizable, Audi has not been shy with the array of packages and options that are available for the RS Q8.
The new RS Design package is one of the cheaper packages at $1,500. Available in red or gray, it adds an Alcantara steering wheel and shift knob, additional contrast stitching, and uniquely detailed seat belts, to name a few. At $2,250, the Executive package bundles together dual-pane acoustic glass, intersection assist, a head-up display, heated rear seats, and more. The Luxury package costs $3,150 and it adds extended leather, a black Alcantara headliner, front massaging seats, and electric sunblinds for the rear side windows. A 23-speaker Bang & Olufsen 3D advanced sound system is $4,900, night vision is $2,250, and ceramic brakes cost at least $8,500 depending on your choice of brake caliper color.
To enhance the appearance, the Black optic package will require you to part with $3,250. It adds 23-inch Sport five-Y-spoke wheels that look phenomenal, plus black exterior trim. The $4,500 Carbon optic package includes a carbon rear lighting strip, a carbon front bumper inlay, and carbon mirror housings.
There's only one Audi RS Q8 trim level, so the buying choice is easy if you're someone that wants their three-car garage in one. From there, it's all about the packages and we say just go ahead and upgrade to the Bang and Olufsen 3D sound system before examining the other options. We're not convinced the Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel is a great idea over time, and the RS Q8 doesn't need the RS Design package in general. Instead, we would look at the Luxury Package and take advantage of the extended leather, a black Alcantara headliner, front massaging seats, and electric sunblinds.
The Executive package is ideal if there are going to be professional people carried around in the back seats a lot. The Black optic package is tempting just for the gorgeous Sport five-Y-spoke wheels, but we would ignore the carbon-ceramic brakes and night-vision in the grand scheme of things. It's a matter of taste, but we think the Carbon optic package is just a bit too much.
The SQ8 is a less powerful version of the Q8 but retains a twin-turbo V8. It manages 500 hp and 568 lb-ft compared to the RS Q8's 591 hp/590 lb-ft. As a result, the SQ8 needs 0.6 seconds longer to reach 60 mph. The SQ8 has a more subtle appearance as well; its wheels are an inch smaller in size and it's much more easily mistaken for a regular Q8, which is either a good or bad thing depending on your point of view. On the plus side, the SQ8 is still a very quick SUV and it starts at over $25,000 less in Premium Plus trim. Even the SQ8 Prestige with ventilated front seats and a head-up display - features not standard on the RS Q8 - is over $15,000 cheaper. We understand the appeal of the RS Q8 being Audi's ultimate SUV, but even it isn't the most thrilling vehicle in the segment. All things considered, a fully loaded SQ8 seems like a good deal.
These two SUVs share the same MLB Evo platform but each has a distinctive character. Unsurprisingly, it's the Lamborghini that's the more extroverted vehicle, both in the way it looks and in the way it handles. The Lambo is engaging and raw in a way the more demure Audi isn't. The Urus is also more powerful and, therefore, quicker, even though both use the same 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8. There's also no question that sitting behind the wheel of a Lamborghini evokes a more memorable reaction than getting into the Audi. It's a privilege you have to pay heavily for, though, because the Urus is almost $100,000 more expensive. We don't believe that the Urus is $100k better than the Audi, but if money is no object, it's the Lamborghini we'd want to park in the garage.
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