How BMW’s Success Forced Audi To Build The RS Q8.June 29, 2020
Hope you liked those Urus sales, Lamborghini, because Audi Sport is hoping to take some of them off you with its Audi RS Q8 mega crossover.
And it’s hoping to take more off the BMW X5M and X6M, plus Mercedes-AMG’s GLE 63, because without those three cars, this one wouldn’t exist.
While BMW and Benz created and dominated the ultra-fast SUV segment, Audi countered with the cleaner tech marvel that is the SQ7. Fine car though it is, buyers overlooked it for other bellowing, horizon-chasers from Germany. That’s why the RS Q8 was born.
Again, the Audi Sport RS Q8’s looks won’t be for everybody, but the flipside is enormous power and torque reserves, high-tech chassis and suspension pieces and a sumptuous interior.
Power, Price and Profligacy
Hate the genre as much as you like (I unashamedly do, and you eventually will, too), mega performance SUVs and crossovers like Audi’s all-new RS Q8 are here to stay – at least for now.
And if they’re here to stay, the genre might as well be a bit more like the Audi RS Q8.
Yes, it’s a huge machine at 2315kg (before it has any fuel or people in it) and it has a frontal area that’s a full 2.84 square meters, giving it a face like a small, frantic courtyard.
And, yes, it will run to 305km/h (pity help the bird or insect caught in that turbulence). And, yes, it will run to 100km/h in 3.8 seconds.
But it will also cruise effortlessly and calmly on highways, meander through city streets and still monster a winding mountain pass with a combination of brute force and a high-tech suspension setup that needs to be seen to be believed.
The big unit rides on 22-inch rubber as standard, or on 23-inch wheels and tyres, with sliver-like 295/35 R23 rubber and enormous carbon-ceramic brakes, so it all takes some controlling below decks.
Like the Q8, it’s basically a shorter, sportier version of the Q7, but with different technology.
Where the SQ7 goes down the tech path of an electric compressor to spin the engine up faster at low revs, the RS Q8 uses a 48-Volt, mild-hybrid boosting system to help its 4.0-litre, biturbo V8.
The thing is, there is an alternative that is just as fast, but handles better, uses less fuel than the 12.1 litres/100km combined claim and is every bit as practical.
It’s even an Audi.
It’s the RS 6 Avant.
And if you want it to look a bit sleeker, there’s the RS 7.
Oh, Audi will point to the RS Q8’s technology, but its size is the only reason it needs all of that.
Big Tech-It Items
Active anti-roll bars, run by 48-Volt electrical systems, change the way the car fights off body roll in corners via little electric motors on the cross-car anti-roll bars.
And the RS Q8 has two of them, one for each axle.
There’s also adaptive air suspension, all-wheel steering, the yee-har, super accurate Sport differential on the back axle and, bizarrely, a hill-descent control system.
The all-wheel drive is normally split so that 60 percent of it twists through the Torsen rear differential, though it can send up to 70 percent to the front (or 85 percent to the rear) when it needs to.
The ride height can change across a 90mm range, which Audi insists gives it off-road ability on its wide, 35-profile tyres…
There are two reasons it needs so much suspensioneering: it’s heavy and it’s tall.
The RS 6 is 2150kg (still significant number). Yet, that’s almost 200kg lighter than the RS Q8, plus the RS 6’s centre of gravity is much, much lower, so it handles better straight out of the box
This tech is all here to keep that tall, heavy body under some kind of control.
The interior is as per the Q8, with a few exceptions like the addition of an RS mode button on the steering wheel (wonder where they got that idea from, eh M?).
It lets you personalize two driving modes and toggle through them on the steering wheel: one touch for one, another for the second one and a third button dab returns the system to the pre-set modes.
Not only does Audi Sport cater for off-road work (cough, cough), but also track work. The RS Q8’s specific infotainment displays include a lap timer and a g-analyst, plus a shift light for the driver. Specific RS graphics are also in the (very impressive) head-up display.
Audi calls it a Big Engine, but it’s only 4.0 liters of perfectly square V8 with two turbochargers. The effect is Big, though.
I mean, 441kW is a power number for grown ups and so is 800Nm of torque.
It’s tech-heavy, too, with cylinder deactivation, direct fuel injection, particulate filters and a mild-hybrid system.
But it’s not any old boring mild-hybrid system that switches in an out as a starter-generator. This one is a 48-Volt system that can soak up 12kW of decelerating energy for up to 22 seconds. And it’s hooked up to the forward-facing camera in the windscreen.
There’s an obvious question there, and the answer is that the start-stop can shut things down at even 22km/h and if the lights turn green, the camera tells the computer when the car in front has started moving, just so it can re-fire the engine. Cool, huh?
Still, nobody’s buying it for that part.
They’re buying it for the burbling start-up noise, the brilliance of the acceleration, from any speed, the off-beat roar of the thing at full throttle, the lazy overtaking ability and the snappy lift-off crackles and pops.
They should also be bearing a thought for the eight-speed automatic transmission that’s forced to manage all of this performance, because it does it manfully.
If I’m being honest here, the RS Q8 has the capability to be so fast so much of the time, from almost anywhere in the rev range, that I’m afraid it has moved dangerously ahead of the average driver’s ability and reactions to comfortably and safely manage it’s best efforts.
At 5.01 metres long, 2.19 metres wide and on a 2998mm wheelbase, that’s a lot even for the RS Q8’s immense driver-assistance suite of technologies to pull back into line.
One saving grace is a set of carbon-ceramic anchors that never, ever fade and never disappoint. They bite hard, as often as you like, and have a surprising amount of modulation and progression and no noise whatsoever.
It’s swift, belligerent and bellowing, blazing through bends and overtaking easily, diving into corners far faster than logic suggests and toting far more mid-corner speed than sane people would think possible.
Its handling is nothing to be frightened of, and it easily manages all the power in competent hands.
Unfortunately, my co-driver on the test didn’t fit that criteria and the reality of 2.3 tonnes of this much speed arriving at corners far too quickly and being far too clumsily did two things: it demonstrated just how brilliant the driver assistance tech was and it was a stark warning about the damage that this much mass can do if it’s not well controlled.
Should You Buy It?
Well, you could. Like all the machinery of its genre, you could, and plenty of people do.
They are well engineered, spacious, versatile and they ride properly, unlike BMW’s X5M and X6M.
But should you?
No. You’ll only encourage more of them.
Get an RS 6 Avant instead.
Original article can be found here.