Audi's Monster RS
Car India|October 2020
The monstrous, blacked-out RS Q8 is the dark side of the coupé SUV breed. How does the Audi stack up in today’s day and age?
Jim Gorde

BIG SUVS ARE THE “IN” THING, HOWEVER illogical that may sound. While manufacturers and policy-makers seemingly cry hoarse about reducing consumption and emissions and looking at greener ways to do things — reducing weight, downsizing the engine, using eco-friendly lightweight parts, and only keeping the essentials onboard — yet, sometimes those very manufacturers tend to balance the scale with monstrosities. And I mean that in a good way. The Audi RS Q8 is a 2.3-tonne SUV with a 600-hp V8, 23-inch wheels, huge brakes, and four-wheel drive. And it’s a 48-volt mild-hybrid with cylinder shutdown. Right.

The Audi RS Q8 is the latest RS (Renn Sport) model from Ingolstadt’s high-performance division. The Q8 we’d driven earlier this year, prior to the lockdown, was the more, let’s say, normal iteration with a 340-hp V6 turbo-petrol. The RS takes things up a few notches. Those notches include styling, equipment, features, and, of course, displacement, cylinders, power, torque, and weight.

The blacked-out elements — grille, logos, even lighting accents — all point to its sporty credentials. It’s a head-turner. It sounds angry, just like the crazy old SQ7 TDI from the past, and looks raring to go. It’s huge, of course, measuring over five meters long and weighing 200 kilograms more than the Q8 55 TFSI V6, at 2,315 kg. Yet, the 600-hp V8 gives it a power-to- weight ratio of 259 hp/tonne.

The RS 7 Sportback, also in India, uses the same engine; shared with Porsche, Bentley, and Lamborghini with between 460 and 650 hp across what, more than 10 models? The old 3,993-cc long stroker V8 has gone and the new square 86x86 3,996-cc V8 sits under the RS Q8’s bonnet. The twin-turbo V8 makes its peak 600 hp at 6,000 rpm but, unlike the RS 7, has its 800 Nm peaking 150 rpm higher, between 2,200 and 4,500 rpm. There’s no lag, of course. It’s just a lot of reserve. A trusty ZF 8HP-series eight-speed fluid-coupling drives the signature Quattro all-wheel-drive system, but what really make a difference are the dynamic select modes.

Drive modes have become a huge factor in sporty cars that can alter their character at the flick of a switch. I’ve praised the BMW M5 for that and how the Lamborghini Urus — which shares this engine, albeit with 50 more hp and Nm — feels positively docile in “Strada” (road) and proper Lambo-brutal in “Corsa” (track) modes. The RS Q8 is also like that. Priced from Rs 2.07 crore (ex-showroom), it’s a full crore less than its Italian sibling, but does that mean it’s fair to dismiss it as a “budget Urus with a Porsche engine”? Nope.

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