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 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.
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.
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.