TESTED: Audi RS Q8 (2021) is big in every way

By Willem van de Putte Time of article published Aug 9, 2021

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PRETORIA - Go big or go home seems to be the mantra with Audi’s RS Q8. Big in every way. Its bulk and size, its powerplant and its interior. Quality too, just as you would expect from Ingolstadt and especially since it sports the RS badge which you know is going to be special.

Let’s start with the big block under the bonnet. For your enjoyment there’s a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 that’s not shy to push 441kW and 800Nm to all four wheels via Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system, changing cogs with a very smooth eight-speed Tiptronic transmission. Audi says it will get to 100km/h from a standing start in 3.8 seconds and I have no reason to doubt them while it will even out at 250km/h, or 280km/h if you’re prepared to spend a bit more. I reckon though that in an SUV 250km/h is plenty.

There’s also a mild hybrid system in the form of a 48-volt electrical system that recovers 12kW of power in a lithium-ion battery. In addition Audi has incorporated a cylinder on demand (COD) system that deactivates four of the cylinders when the computer senses lower engine revolutions. With a V8 it’s probably good for a few rands’ fuel saving in traffic but I can’t help thinking about a meme I saw saying something about “flooring my V8 just because I like the sound”.

And in the case of the RS Q8 especially with the setting adjusted to Dynamic it’s a glorious sound indeed.

It’s a looker too, especially the one we had on test in Dragon Orange Metallic. The honeycomb grille, rear skirt with diffuser and air inlets are in gloss black set off by Manhattan grey sills all standing on enormous 23-inch alloys with 10-inch red calipers.

Inside it’s a symphony of elegance, technology and high-end finishes.

The comfortable honeycomb-patterned sports seats are covered in Valcona leather with red stitching. RS styling includes red stitching on the knee pads, steering wheel, floor mats, selector lever and seat belt edges. The upper dash, door panels and armrests are covered with Nappa leather, the whole package giving you a sense of a ship’s captain.

It’s fitted with Audi’s virtual cockpit and MMI display and toggling with the two RS buttons on the steering wheel sets up the car and display to show torque, output lap times and g-forces but when you’re belting along full-bore it’s only the head-up display that you focus on that also shows when the rev limiter is reached before you upshift with the paddles.

While we’re on the paddles, I found the automatic shifts suitably geared and quick enough to bring out the car’s maximum, anything else and you would have to be on a track or cordoned-off road.

Fitted with adaptive air suspension and all wheel steering, cornering is crisp although despite all the electrics designed to keep it stable it does get a bit hairy at speed and close to the edge. Remember, this is still an SUV and there’s a reason why fast cars are still designed to tar-hugging specifications.

It’s blistering quick off the mark and the exhaust note is glorious, well I thought so, but not so much some of the cycle brigade on our usual route around the Cradle of Humankind, probably can’t wait for EVs I think.

Accelerating hard and braking for regular speed bumps there’s a delightful snap crackle and pop from the tail pipes as it gears down but after a while I noticed some fade on the brakes so it was time to settle in comfort mode and let things cool down before we played around some more.

We happened to have the car for the Father’s Day weekend and my son who generally couldn’t be bothered about any car, you know, the textbook millennial, even commented on it, especially the comfortable rear seating.

When we arrived at the lunch venue one of the patrons commented that it was a “proper dad’s car,” I thought so too but unfortunately don’t (and never will) have the R2 354 500 to make it mine.

It’s a pity because as the world moves more towards renewable energy and cars become appliances, the Audi RS Q8 and especially its V8 engine continues to remind us of what it is to have fossil fuel fun.

Audi RS Q8 quattro

Engine: 4-litre V8 turbopetrol

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Drive: All-wheel drive

Power: 441kW @ 6000rpm

Torque: 800Nm @ 2200-4500rpm

0-100km/h: 3.8 seconds (claimed)

Fuel use: 12.1 l/100km (claimed)

Warranty: 1-year/unlimited km

Maintenance plan: 5-year/100 000km

Price: R2 401 500

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