Range expansion and diversification continue apace at Audi Sport, as demonstrated particularly conclusively by the new Audi RS Q8, which has made its world debut today at the 2019 LA Auto Show. The first ever full-size Audi SUV to bear the RS badge pushes the boundaries of performance for a model of this type, a claim that it underscores by being the first ever production Audi SUV capable of a sub-four-second 0-62mph sprint. The 600PS, twin-turbo V8 TFSI responsible for this incredible accelerative force will be available to UK Audi Sport enthusiasts in the new RS Q8 from early next year.
Behind the brawn of this versatile SUV Coupé is exceptional intelligence and ingenuity – the new RS Q8 incorporates some of the most technologically advanced Audi features available, and combines them with outstanding flexibility and maximum everyday usability to redefine the traditional performance car genre. The impressive technical specification includes highlights such as RS-specific adaptive air suspension, all-wheel steering, sport differential and active roll stabilisation, and customers will have the option to upgrade even further to Carbon Black and Vorsprung versions which unleash even more of the sporting potential.
“For the first time in the 25-year history of Audi RS models, we are putting a large SUV coupe with the genes of a true high-performance sports car on the road,” said Oliver Hoffmann, Managing Director of Audi Sport GmbH. “With its biturbo V8 petrol engine, the Audi RS Q8 is the prestigious spearhead of the RS model family.”
Maximum power and high efficiency: the engine
Drawing on 600PS and 800 Nm (590.0 lb-ft) of torque between 2,200 and 4,500 rpm, the 4.0-litre V8 TFSI accelerates the new RS Q8 to 62mph from rest in just 3.8 seconds and to 124mph in 13.7 seconds – figures that put it on a par with some of the most focused sports cars. An electronically governed top speed of 155mph swiftly follows.
Its 1-3-7-2-6-5-4-8 ignition sequence also guarantees a voluminous sound which is further enhanced by the RS sport exhaust system with black tailpipe trims fitted as standard to Carbon Black and Vorsprung models. As is typical for an Audi RS, the dual exhaust system features a large oval tailpipe on each side. The driver can also influence the engine’s sound via the Audi drive select system.
The biturbo V8 in the new RS Q8 draws on a mild-hybrid system (MHEV) that uses a 48-volt main electrical system as its basis. The core of the MHEV is a belt alternator-starter connected to the crankshaft. During deceleration and braking, it can recover up to 12 kW of power and store it in the compact lithium-ion battery. If the driver takes their foot off the accelerator at a speed between 34mph and 99mph, the drive management selects one of two solutions depending on the driving situation and the current setting of the Audi drive select dynamic handling system: The new RS Q8 recuperates or coasts for up to 40 seconds with the engine off. The belt alternator starter starts the engine within fractions of a second when the accelerator is actuated. MHEV technology allows for start/stop operation at a speed of up to 13mph. The mild-hybrid system is connected to the camera sensors for even greater efficiency. When stopped, the engine starts up while the brake pedal is still depressed as soon as the front camera detects that the vehicle in front of the new RS Q8 begins to move.
The interplay of the MHEV components improves ride comfort and also has the potential to reduce fuel consumption in everyday driving by as much as 0.8 liters per 100 kilometers.
Another efficiency module on board is the cylinder on demand (COD) system. At low to intermediate load and rpm in the upper gears, it deactivates cylinders 2, 3, 5 and 8 by switching off fuel injection and ignition and closing the intake and exhaust valves. The switching process takes just milliseconds, and is virtually imperceptible in the car. During four-cylinder operation, the operating points of the active cylinders shift to higher loads and map points with high efficiency, while the deactivated cylinders run largely loss-free as gas springs. They are reactivated immediately when the driver presses the accelerator.
The power of the V8 TFSI flows to the quattro permanent all-wheel drive system via the standard eight-speed tiptronic. Configured as a planetary gear, the purely mechanical centre differential typically distributes the drive power in a 40:60 ratio to the front and rear axles. In the event of slip, more drive torque automatically goes to the axle with the better traction. Up to 70 percent can be directed to the front wheels and up to 85 percent to the rear wheels.
Wheel-selective torque control perfects the safe and agile handling of the new RS Q8. During dynamic cornering, the quattro sport differential fitted as standard distributes drive torque between the rear wheels as required. This active torque vectoring improves traction, stability and dynamics.
Ready for anything: the suspension
The five-link construction at the front and rear axles handle longitudinal and lateral forces separately. The linkages and the subframes are made largely of aluminium. The SUV coupe has a track of 1,692 millimetres up front and 1,696 millimetres at the rear.
The standard RS-specific adaptive air suspension sport with controlled damping means the new RS Q8 is equally at home on the racetrack or an offroad trail. Its RS-specific damper tuning allows for a particularly broad spread between a setup biased toward comfort and an extremely sporty setup. Depending on driving situation and the driver’s wishes, the body’s ride height varies by up to 90 millimetres.
The optional electromechanical active roll stabilisation (EAWS) minimise body roll during fast cornering. There is a compact electric motor between the two halves of the stabilizer on each of the two axles. When driving straight ahead, the two halves of the stabilizer are decoupled, which reduces body movement on uneven roads and also increases ride comfort. During cornering, however, the focus is on optimum roll compensation. The halves of the stabiliser are twisted in opposite directions, which significantly reduces vehicle lean while cornering. The electromechanical active roll stabilization is integrated in the 48-volt main electrical system and serves as a recuperating system. It can even recover power via the electric motors and thereby feed electrical energy back to the battery.
All-wheel steering, also standard, moves the rear wheels via a high-torque electric spindle drive and two track rods. At low speeds, the rear wheels turn up to 5 degrees opposite the direction of the front wheels for greater agility. At high speeds, they turn up to 1.5 degrees in the same direction as the front wheels to improve stability during fast lane changes.
With variable ground clearance, short overhangs, quattro permanent all-wheel drive and hill descent control, the new Audi RS Q8 can carry on calmly and confidently when paved roads end.
The driver can precisely influence the character of the RS Q8 via the Audi drive select dynamic handling system. There are eight profiles from which to choose: comfort, auto, dynamic, efficiency, allroad, offroad and the individually configurable RS-specific modes RS1 and RS2, which can be activated directly via the “RS-MODE” button on the steering wheel. Audi drive select affects such things as engine and transmission management, steering boost, the air suspension, all-wheel steering, engine sound and the characteristic of the automatic air conditioning.
The new RS Q8 comes standard with 22-inch aluminium wheels in a 10-spoke star design with 295/40-series tyres – the largest ever factory-installed on an Audi production model. Optional 23-inch cast aluminium wheels in a 5 Y-spoke rotor design are available exclusively for the RS Q8. Carbon Black editions are fitted with the 23-inch 5-Y spoke wheels in gloss black, while an anthracite black with diamond turned finish is applied to the Vorsprung. Behind the large wheels is an RS brake system with internally vented composite discs (420 mm) up front, 370 mm at the rear. Their 10-inch piston calipers are painted black as standard, but are available in red as an option.
Self-confident: the exterior
With its imposing octagonal Singleframe, the RS-specific radiator grille in high gloss black and the gloss black RS honeycomb grille, the new Audi RS Q8 sports a strikingly self-confident face. This combined with the solid side air inlets and the blade in high gloss black perfectly highlights the athletic character of the large SUV Coupe from Audi Sport GmbH.
The sloping roofline flows into the forward-canted D-pillars and rests against the quattro blisters above the wheel arches. RS-specific trim strips in the body colour widen the body by 10 mm up front and 5 mm in the rear, providing space for the more generous track. The RS sills come standard in Manhattan grey, which makes the body appear even more athletic. An RS roof edge spoiler provides a striking finish at the top; design highlights closer to the road are the RS-specific rear skirt with a diffuser clip in high gloss black and the RS-typical oval tailpipes. The RS roof edge spoiler provides downforce on the rear axle for even balance at high speeds.
The new Audi RS Q8 is available in a choice of nine colours: one solid paint finish and eight metallic or pearl effect shades. The Audi exclusive programme also offers numerous additional exterior colour options. The exterior mirror housings come standard in aluminium, with carbon or black fitted to Carbon Black and Vorsprung models respectively. The black (on Vorsprung) and carbon (for Carbon Black models) styling packages set precise accents at the radiator grille, blades, diffuser clip and rear light strip (carbon only). In combination with these styling packages, the Audi rings and RS logos at the front and rear are also black.
The tinted RS HD Matrix LED headlights have a three-dimensional daytime running lights signature with a digital character, similar to the LED tail lights. A light strip backed by a high-gloss black surface joins the rear lights, further emphasizing the wide stance. The RS Matrix LED headlights and the rear lights include dynamic turn signals and are showcased by an expressive RS-specific animation when the car is locked or unlocked.
Spacious sportiness: the interior
The interior of the new RS Q8 features a deliberately clean design. All elements beneath the black cloth headlining have a logical connection and harmonise with one another. The headlining is black Alcantara for Carbon Black and Vorsprung specifications. The slim instrument panel and the strongly horizontal lines convey a feeling of spaciousness. The central element in the cockpit is the top MMI touch response display. With its black-panel look, it almost dissolves into a large, black surface when switched off.
Another primary design element is the wide, symmetrical console of the centre tunnel. Framing it are design elements in Aluminum Spectrum, which underscore the athletic character of the large SUV coupe.
Special RS displays in the Audi virtual cockpit and MMI display provide information on such things as tyre pressure, torque, output, temperature, lap times and g-forces. The shift light display prompts the driver to upshift when the rev limit is reached. The head-up display, exclusively available on Vorsprung versions, also offers several RS-specific graphics.
Luxurious RS sport seats in Valcona leather with a honeycomb pattern and RS embossing are fitted as standard. Ventilation and a massage function are also added to the Vorsprung specification.
The RS design package – standard on Carbon Black and Vorsprung, and available in red or grey – include red or grey contrasting stitching on the knee pads, steering wheel rim, floor mats, gear selector lever and the edges of the seat belts. With both packages, the centre console, selector lever and steering wheel are covered in Alcantara.
There is an RS logo on the steering wheel. The illuminated front door sill trims sport an RS Q8 logo. The fully perforated RS sport leather steering wheel flattened at the bottom with shift paddles also includes multifunction buttons. The driver can directly select the new Audi drive select modes RS1 and RS2 via the RS-Mode button. RS-specific displays then open automatically in the Audi virtual cockpit.
The RS Q8 also demonstrates its uncompromised everyday usability in the rear. A sliding three-seat rear bench is standard. With the seat backrests folded down, the luggage compartment under the power rear hatch holds up to 1,755 litres.
Connected for safety: the assist systems and infotainment
The new Audi RS Q8 supports the driver in many situations. The comprehensive range of over 30 assist systems includes such things as the adaptive cruise assist, efficiency assist, intersection assist, lane change warning and 360 degree cameras.
The RS Q8 comes standard with the top-of-the-line infotainment system, MMI navigation plus. It includes the Audi connect data transfer module with the LTE Advanced standard and a Wi-Fi hotspot. The navigation system learns the driver’s preferences from the routes driven and can therefore make intelligent suggestions. The online services from Audi connect add predictive features to the route planning process.