Audi hasn't wasted time turning its recently-released, range-topping Q8 SUV into a rip-roaring performance machine. The 2021 Audi RS Q8 is a rocket ship of an SUV that sports a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine with nearly 600 horsepower along with a full complement of other performance upgrades.
Choosing Your Audi RS Q8
Configuring an RS Q8 is a straightforward process, as there's only the one trim of the same name. Pricing checks in at $113,995 including destination.
The sole engine choice for the Audi RS Q8 is a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8. This engine is no stranger to high-end products in both the Audi lineup, as well as other Volkswagen Group vehicles; it does duty in select Porsche and Lamborghini models as well.
In this application, the engine is good for 591 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. That's good enough for a 0-60 mph time of less than four seconds and a top speed of 191 mph.
All RS Q8s employ quattro, which is Audi's all-wheel drive system. Backing this engine is an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Paddle shifters are standard. The transmission normally divvies power in a 40/60 ratio between the front and rear axles, but can alter the power split so that up to 80% of power is headed to the rear wheels.
Audi has also fits the RS Q8 with a 48-volt electrical system for the standard mild-hybrid system. There's a 12-kWh battery under the trunk and a motor/generator up front for prolonged engine-off coasting up to speeds of 100 mph. The system also powers the active anti-sway bars that allow for improved handling.
Multiple drive modes provide different throttle calibrations, suspension settings, and shift points. Off-road modes jack up the RS Q8 on its air suspension for better clearance.
EPA fuel economy estimates for the RS Q8 are 13 miles per gallon city, 19 mpg highway, and 15 combined.
Passenger and Cargo Capacity
The RS Q8 is as practical as it is fast: there's 30.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats and 60.7 cubes with the second row folded flat. There's also a tow package that when equipped brings maximum towing capacity to a full 7,700 pounds.
The RS Q8 is a five-passenger crossover; there's no option for a third row. Buyers looking for three rows will want to check out the similar – but not nearly as fast – Audi Q7.
Plenty of safety features are standard on the Audi RS Q8, but the list falls short of being totally comprehensive. What buyers do get are parking sensors front and rear, a surround-view camera system, lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
What's missing from that list? Adaptive cruise control is the most glaringly absent feature. It's available as part of the $1,750 Driver Assist Package, which also includes traffic sign recognition, lane keeping assist, and a intersection assist that can override a decision to pull out in front of an oncoming car.
The RS Q8 hasn't been tested for crashworthiness, but the regular Q8 has, with good results. It was awarded a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA and a Top Safety Pick designation from the IIHS.
The RS Q8 doesn't go light when it comes to technology. The star of the show is the dual-touchscreen setup that features prominently in the dashboard. The smaller 8.6-inch touchscreen is mounted low and handles the four-zone climate control and more; atop it sits the 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system that includes standard navigation as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Ahead of the driver is a 12.3-inch all-digital instrument cluster. It can show navigation maps and a variety of different displays and information.
Multiple USB ports, a wireless charging pad with a signal booster, and subscription-based cloud services round out the notable connectivity features included on the RS Q8.
The Audi RS Q8 is itself a sub-model of the Q8 lineup, so there are no other trims at this point. And for good reason, as its six-figure sticker price buys all manner of goodies.
Standard features not already mentioned include 10-way power front seats that are heated and cooled, quilted Valcona leather upholstery, a power panoramic sunroof, and 22-inch wheels wrapped in summer tires.
On the performance front, there's an adjustable air suspension, active roll bars, a limited-slip rear differential, and four-wheel steering. A Bang and Olufsen 3D Premium audio system with 17 speakers provides the soundtrack.
A number of available packages are also on offer. Some are merely aesthetic, such as the $4,500 Carbon Optic package, which dresses up the mirrors, bumper inlays, and taillight strip in carbon fiber. To get that package requires the purchase of the $3,250 Black Optic package; this option group includes black exterior trim, a sport exhaust, and 23-inch wheels.
The $2,000 Executive and $3,150 Luxury packages turn their focus to the interior. The former includes dual-pane acoustic glass, a head-up display, power soft-closing doors, and heated rear seats. The latter offers more leather-covered surfaces, an Alcantara headliner, massaging front seats, and rear sunshades.
Standalone options include carbon ceramic brakes and a 23-speaker Bang and Olufsen audio system.
Regardless of your budget, skip the overkill carbon ceramic brakes. As good as they are, the standard stoppers are plenty capable of hauling the 2021 Audi RS Q8 down from speed in a hurry. The ceramic setup's slight improvement in braking performance isn't worth the $8,500 price tag.