Audi RS Q8: SUV King of the Nürburgring

When BMW launched their controversial X6 in late 2007, many scratched their heads in confusion. “Why on earth would anybody want an SUV coupé?,” they asked. The motoring press mimicked those thoughts. Many berated the X6 for being an impractical, more expensive alternative to the X5. If you look at it rationally, they’re absolutely correct. 

Yet, high-end consumers absolutely loved the X6. The first-generation turned out to be a success, with many finding homes on the driveways of the well-heeled. Seeing the success BMW had with this niche offering, myriad manufacturers launched their own take of the SUV coupé – or SUC (Sports Utility Coupé).

One of the latest to be introduced would be the Audi Q8. Introduced in 2019, the striking X6 rival was offered with just one engine option, the 250kW petrol-powered 55 TFSI. A diesel model joined the range last year, too. Now, Audi has released the long-awaited RS Q8 – taking the fight to the X6 M Competition, GLE63 S Coupé and Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupé.

Audi RS Q8
Standard all-wheel steering allows the rear wheels to turn up to five degrees in the opposite direction of the front wheels, aiding manoeuvrability.

It may be a high-riding behemoth that weighs over two tons, but this mega-Audi holds the record for fastest SUV around the Nürburgring. With a lap time of 07:42, the RS Q8 is not only faster than a raft of other fiery SUVs, but faster than a number of track-focused Porsches and AMGs, too.

Part of this is down to what lies beneath. 441kW and 800Nm of torque come courtesy of a turbopetrol 4.0-litre V8 powerplant. Audi claims a 0-100km/h time of just 3.7 seconds and a 0-200km/h time of 13.7 seconds. The RS Q8 is electronically governed to 250km/h but can be optionally extended to 280km/h.

To stop something this fast (and heavy), Audi have fitted the RS Q8 with some serious stopping power. Behind the 23-inch alloy wheels sit 420mm ventilated discs (front) and 370mm (rear). Optional carbon ceramic brakes are available on request.

Audi RS Q8
Aluminium and carbon fibre styling packages are available to set the RS Q8 further apart. A total of nine colour choices are available. Note the tinted HD Matrix LED headlights.

Inside, you’ll find a classically minimalist Audi dashboard. While clean and uncluttered, the RS Q8 retains the luxurious ambiance of the regular Q8 with added RS embellishments. Sports seats, a unique flat-bottomed steering wheel, and RS model controls differentiate the RS from lesser models.

At R2 354 500, the RS Q8 is pricey. But it does undercut its closest rivals by a large amount. BMW will charge you R2 882 320 for the X6 M Competition, while the Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S Coupé will set you back R2 970 920. When you consider the Lamborghini Urus (which shares many components with the RS Q8) is a snip under R4 million, the Audi starts to look like the bargain of the segment.

A diesel-powered SQ8 is also available at R1 848 500.

The interior is awash with Alcantara and fine Nappa leather trim.

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