Audi RS Q8 3 1

2020 Audi RS Q8: A Little Something Extra For The Everyday

  • The 2020 RS Q8 is the first SUV from Audi in the United States to have an RS badge.
  • Under the hood, a turbo V8 creates nearly 600 horsepower and 600 lb-ft. of torque.
  • At the famous Nürburgring racetrack, the RS Q8 set a new speed record for an SUV.

The 2020 Audi RS Q8 combines the company’s high-performance RS undertones with the practicality of a full-size SUV. Powered by a bi-turbo V8 engine, the RS Q8 looks to set a new standard as the prestigious spearhead of the RS model line.

Or so sayeth Audi.

I recently wrote about Audi’s big boy SUV, the Q7, and it gives you whatever you could want, but what if you want more? And what if what you want more of is performance? Then say hi to the Audi RS Q8. The first Audi SUV to carry an RS badge. Yes, it’s an SUV, and a big one at that. So we’ll get to all the “practical” stuff in a bit, but this guy wears an RS badge, and that means performance. So let’s look at the performance bits first, shall we?

2020 Audi RS Q8: The Good Stuff

Resting within the engine room of the RS Q8 is a 4.0-liter V8 that delivers an imposing 591 horsepower and 590 lb-ft. of torque. That’s good enough to move it from zero to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds. Yeah, that sounds only middling these days, but this is a huge SUV we’re talking about. Audi (for obvious reasons) doesn’t provide a curb weight figure in their press release, but you know this thing is no Lotus 7 – shoot, this thing is probably not even three Lotus 7s. 3.7 seconds to freeway speed is a miracle.

Top speed is 155 mph, or 190 mph when equipped with the RS ceramic brakes. So get the RS ceramic brakes. Add it all up, and this makes the RS Q8 the fastest production SUV to lap the Nürburgring with an official time of seven minutes and 42 seconds.

Is The 2020 Audi RS Q8 All-Wheel Drive?

Of course there’s the quattro all-wheel drive system that lives just south of the standard eight-speed Tiptronic transmission. Front and rear torque split is set to 40:60 and, when required, can transfer up to 70 percent to the front and up to 85 percent to the rear. The RS Q8 also uses wheel-selective torque for improved handling and additional traction adjustments across each axle. When you’re really on it, the quattro sport rear differential distributes torque between the rear wheels as needed via active torque vectoring. This again is to improve traction and stability.

To help keep everything stable at higher speeds, Audi says the roof-edge spoiler produces more downforce on the rear axle.

The suspension, in and of itself, is almost as impressive as the drivetrain. The RS Q8 features an adaptive air suspension standard. Obviously it is specific to this RS model and offers the driver a choice between comfort and performance settings. All-wheel steering is also standard along with active roll stabilization.

Exhaust Notes & Driver Profiles

You can customize your driving experience through the Audi drive select system with seven different profiles: comfort, auto, dynamic, allroad, offroad, and the individually configurable RS-specific modes RS1 and RS2. Those last two you can turn on via the “RS-MODE” button on the steering wheel.

Audi drive select lets you configure different settings for the engine and transmission, power steering, air suspension, and all-wheel steering. It also lets you mess with the engine’s sound. Typical for RS models, the RS Q8 has a dual exhaust with an oval tailpipe on each side, and if you’d like, there’s an optional RS sport exhaust with black tailpipes for an even sportier sound.

Audi says the the "1-3-7-2-6-5-4-8" ignition sequence gives the engine of the RS Q8 a robust sound.
Audi says the “1-3-7-2-6-5-4-8” ignition sequence gives the engine of the RS Q8 a robust sound. Photo: Audi of America, Inc.

2020 Audi RS Q8: Interior Treatments

The interior of the new RS Q8 is somewhere between spaceship and luxury liner, with the central feature being the MMI touch response system. There are special RS displays through Audi’s virtual cockpit, and the 12.3-inch display offers information like power output, g-forces, lap times, drivetrain temperatures, and tire pressure. There’s a shift light display for up-shifts when the rev limit is reached, and the optional heads-up display also offers several RS-specific graphics.

There’s also practical stuff inside too, like the sliding three-seat rear bench. Fold that down, and there is 60.7 cubic feet of space available in the luggage compartment under the power rear hatch. The Luxury package adds an Alcantara headliner, Nappa leather accents on the center console, armrests, and instrument panel, and power rear window sunshades.

The Bang & Olufsen 3D Sound System with 17 speakers and 16-channel amplifier is standard. However, there’s also an optional Bang & Olufsen 3D Advanced Sound System with 23 speakers, a 23-channel BeoCore amplifier, and ICE power amplifiers with a peak output of 1,920 watts.

2020 Audi RS Q8 interior layout. The ventilated Valcona leather seats feature "RS" honeycomb stitching. A heated leather steering wheel, with large aluminum shift paddles, is also standard.
2020 Audi RS Q8 interior layout. The ventilated Valcona leather seats feature honeycomb stitching. A heated leather steering wheel, with large aluminum shift paddles, is also standard. Photo: Audi of America, Inc.

Safety & Security

The 2020 Audi RS Q8 offers a wide range of standard driver assistance systems: adaptive cruise assist, (combining adaptive cruise control, traffic jam assist, and active lane assist); a top view camera system with 360 surround; and intersection assist to help monitor cross traffic.

Pricing & Availability

With all this much stuff, it’s not surprising that the 2020 Audi RS Q8 starts at a gulp-inducing $113,000. Tack on another $995 for destination. No word on when they’ll be on dealer lots exactly, although it should be at some point this spring.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz

2020 Audi RS Q8 Gallery

Photos & Source: Audi of America, Inc.