LOS ANGELES - 3.8 seconds from 0-100km/h. That’s what makes the new RS Q8 Audi’s fastest SUV ever, and one of its quickest full stop, given that it’s just 0.2 seconds slower off the mark than the beastly RS 6 and just 0.6s shy of the R8 Plus for that matter.

As you would have guessed by now, the RS Q8 is powered by the same 4-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol engine that does service in the aforementioned RS6 and RS7, and it’s in the same state of tune, with 441kW and 800Nm on command. 

A 1-3-7-2-6-5-4-8 ignition sequence and RS sport exhaust system ensure that you hear the engine in all its glory, and the soundtrack can also be configured by the driver via the Audi drive select system.

Let’s make no mistake, this is not an economical car, but Audi has done its best to mitigate consumption through a 48-volt mild hybrid system featuring a belt alternator. The system can recover up to 12kW of power during light deceleration, which is then stored in a separate lithium ion battery. The set-up can save up to 0.8 litres per 100km in everyday driving.

The engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and an all-wheel-drive system that, under normal circumstances, pushes 60 percent of the torque to the rear wheels, but if required it can increase that to 85 percent, or even send 70 percent to the front if need be. 

The quattro sport differential also varies the torque distribution between the rear wheels as needed. This and the rear-wheel steering system aim to keep it pin-sharp through the corners. Customers can also opt for an electromechanical active roll stabilisation system that can decouple the stabilisers on each axle during hard cornering in order to minimise body roll.

Because ride comfort is equally important in a luxury SUV such as this, an RS-specific adaptive air suspension system is fitted and it can vary the ride height by up to 90mm. 

All of the vehicle’s dynamic systems can be configured through the Dynamic Select interface, which gives drivers eight profiles to play around with (Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, Efficiency, Allroad, Offroad and the individually configurable RS-specific RS1 and RS2 modes), which can be swiftly activated via the “RS” button on the steering wheel.

The RS Q8 rolls off the assembly line with 22-inch wheels as standard, which is the largest size ever on an Audi production model. 

Also helping you to tell it apart from humbler Q8s is an RS-specific grille in gloss black honeycomb, wider side skirts and unique diffuser, also in high-gloss black. Inside you’ll find unique RS displays in the digital instrument cluster, head-up display and MMI interface, as well as the obligatory RS sports seats in Valcona leather.

Audi South Africa says it is aiming to launch the RS Q8 in the second quarter of 2020.

IOL Motoring