Currently reading: 2020 Audi RS Q8 arrives with 591bhp mild hybrid V8
Audi Sport's first large performance SUV will take on the BMW X6 M and Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 Coupé when it arrives next year

Audi Sport has unveiled the new 591bhp RS Q8 SUV, powered by a 4.0-litre V8 engine and with styling inspired by the rally-derived Sport Quattro S1, as the ‘spearhead’ of its range.

The BMW X6M rival, revealed at the Los Angeles motor show, is the first large SUV produced by Audi’s performance arm. It joins the recently revealed RS Q3 and RS Q3 Sportback in a planned line-up of hot crossovers, and Audi Sport boss Oliver Hoffman claims it features “the genes of a true high-performance sports car”.

The RS Q8 has received a substantial makeover from the regular Audi Q8, including a revamped singleframe grille and large front air intake. While the track is unchanged from standard versions, bespoke trim strips widen the body by 10mm at the front and 5mm at the rear. The machine also features custom sills, and a bespoke downforce-generating RS roof spoiler. The rear of the car features a bespoke diffuser and large quad exhausts.

Several key design features of the RS Q8, including the air intakes, black panel on the rear and ‘hockey stick’ design details on the rear corner, are designed to echo the Sport Quattro, effectively the first Audi Sport model developed in the 1980s as a ‘homologation special’ for the Group B rally car.

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RS Q8 product manager Markus Eberle said making a true RS model out of the Q8 was a tough challenge, both because of the SUV’s size and weight and its breadth of ability. He said: “It demanded a lot. We didn’t want to lose the comfort and drivability of the Q8, or its off-road ability, but we wanted to add performance so that it was suitable for the race track.”

The biturbo V8 powerplant is boosted by a 48V mild hybrid starter generator to offer 591bhp and 590lb ft of torque, with a claimed 0-62mph time of 3.8secs and a limited top speed of 155mph (189mph with the optional dynamic package).

Power is delivered to all four wheels by an eight-speed automatic gearbox and a mechanical centre differential able to distribute power as needed. There is also torque control and an optional quattro sport differential that can shift torque between the rear wheels. The mild hybrid system allows engine-off coasting between 34 and 99mph, and regenerates energy under braking. 


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Eberle said that the RS Q8’s V8 petrol engine ensured it would feel notably different from the current range-topping SQ8, which is powered by a 429bhp mild hybrid V8 diesel.

The SUV features 22-inch wheels as standard – with 23-inch optional – and large composite disc brakes, which can be upgraded to ceramic versions.

92 Audi rs q8 2020 press cabin

The RS Q8 features live-link suspension at front and rear, with adaptive air suspension featuring controlled damping as standard. The ride height can be altered up to 90mm to adjust for track or off-road use, while all-wheel steering is also standard.

The drive select system features eight modes, including two RS performance modes and an off-road option.

Inside, the machine follows the trend of recent RS models with bespoke Audi Sport trim, badging and digital display settings. There are leather and Alcantara sports seats and an RS leather-covered flat-bottom steering wheel. The machine retains a sliding three-seat rear bench, giving an unchanged seats down storage capacity of 1755 litres.

The RS Q8 is due to launch in the UK in early 2020.

85 Audi rs q8 2020 press qa side

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Q&A: Frank Lamberty, Audi exterior design chief

Q. How challenging was the RS Q8 to design?

A. “It was really a challenge. It’s truly the first RS Q model, so we needed to find an identity for whatever else comes in the future. It’s an SUV, but we looked at rally car coupes – SUVs are the coupes of today.”

Q. How was it inspired by the Group B Quattro?

A. “The while RS Q8 is a reinterpretation of the Sport Quattro. The Quattro blisters really come out at the front, for example. We’re playing with the details of racing cars: you can see links to the Sport Quattro and even in the old Auto Union cars.”

Q. There’s much less chrome than on a regular Q8. Why?

A. “We feel chrome means prestige, but not from a sporting point of view. Race cars don’t have chrome, so we got rid of it because it’s not sporty. There are still odd bits, but you don’t need it all over.”


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James Attwood

James Attwood, digital editor
Title: Acting magazine editor

James is Autocar's acting magazine editor. Having served in that role since June 2023, he is in charge of the day-to-day running of the world's oldest car magazine, and regularly interviews some of the biggest names in the industry to secure news and features, such as his world exclusive look into production of Volkswagen currywurst. Really.

Before first joining Autocar in 2017, James spent more than a decade in motorsport journalist, working on Autosport,, F1 Racing and Motorsport News, covering everything from club rallying to top-level international events. He also spent 18 months running Move Electric, Haymarket's e-mobility title, where he developed knowledge of the e-bike and e-scooter markets. 

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5cylinderT 20 November 2019


yeh the power and torque with this 'awesome' hybrid drive-train is insane but just dont ask about the weight penalty. and saving the world! if you are that concerned you should be looking at the news on the prius or something rather than a car with twice the cylinders and more the double the litres. if they wanted to make this good for the environment they would have to put the exuast gases into pressurised canasters and bring them to space and dump them.

Bob Cat Brian 20 November 2019

Lack of scale and the green

Lack of scale and the green paintwork makes that front 3/4 view look like a vRS Scala. Not a complement to either vehicle.

JMax18 20 November 2019

Who gives a

I'm jolly glad they aren't. We need these German brands to keep producing cars with proper engines in them.

Business plan for the future: have a range of electric cars for the mass market and then some more upmarket ICU cars with V8s and V10s and V12s to maintain some decency.