What Car? says...
Pretty much everything about the Audi RS Q8 is huge, from the performance to the price to the car itself. Indeed, Audi admits that it couldn’t have made it any wider than it has because it wouldn’t have fit through the factory paint shop.
The RS Q8’s engine isn’t just big, though – it’s also clever, shutting down half of its eight cylinders to save fuel when they’re not needed. What’s more, the car features a mild hybrid system that recoups some of the energy normally lost when slowing down.
Add in trick suspension that’s designed to both minimise body lean and maximise comfort, and there’s no shortage of tech. But how does the Audi RS Q8 stack up against rivals such as the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, the BMW X6 M Competition and the Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupé?
That’s what we’ll be exploring in this review. If you do decide to buy the RS Q8 or any of its rivals, be sure to check out the best prices on our New Car Deals pages.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
As you’d expect, the Audi RS Q8 is seriously fast, with 0-62mph covered in just 3.8 seconds. That means it matches the brawnier BMW X6 M Competition and the far lighter Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio.
It’s just a pity there’s often a significant gap between you flooring the accelerator and the eight-speed automatic gearbox changing down. In fact, if you want the RS Q8 to leap forward in a hurry, you’re better off being a little gentler with the accelerator so the gearbox doesn’t get involved. The engine produces so much torque that you’ll still surge towards the horizon, just without the initial pause.
When accelerating, you’re also rewarded with a growling V8 soundtrack and a wonderfully bassy exhaust tone. And yet, the RS Q8 cruises more quietly than rivals; the engine is hushed on the motorway and little wind noise enters the car. Only some rumble from the fat tyres intrudes on the calm, and this is far from excessive.
Permanent four-wheel drive helps you make the most of the performance, as does the car’s ability to shuffle power towards the axle, or indeed wheel, that has the most traction.
Meanwhile, there’s more clever technology in the suspension, which features active anti-roll bars; these counteract body roll in bends, before automatically disconnecting on straight roads in an effort to improve comfort.
Sure enough, most of the time the RS Q8 is remarkably forgiving when you leave it in Comfort mode – particularly given the mammoth 23in alloy wheels fitted to our test car. However, run into a large pothole and the result is a forceful thwack so loud and jarring that you’ll think you might have damaged something.
As for the handling, those active anti-roll bars help the RS Q8 corner more like a well-sorted hot hatch than a 2.4-tonne SUV, while precise steering with sharp responses adds to your confidence. Just bear in mind that the Turbo version of the Porsche Cayenne Coupé is more involving at similar speeds.
When you need to slow things down, the RS Q8’s humongous brakes do a great job and resist fade well. And standard four-wheel steering makes this huge car surprisingly easy to manoeuvre in town and squeeze round tight car parks.
Between the Q8 and the RS Q8, there's also a 500bhp version – you can read about that in our Audi SQ8 review.
The interior layout, fit and finish
While the Audi RS Q8 doesn’t look dramatically different to lesser Q8s inside, aside from its sports front seats and some bespoke readouts for the digital instruments, that still means it feels more sumptuous than rivals.
Racy features include a g-meter, should you wish to know how much cornering force your passengers can withstand before they start to complain of motion sickness.
Meanwhile, driving position adjustments can be made electrically, including for the steering wheel as well as the seat and its lumbar support, so getting settled is effortless.
The RS Q8 also combines decent visibility with front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera. Plus, its standard LED matrix headlights automatically dim portions of the high beam to avoid dazzling oncoming traffic, while ensuring that you still get a bright view of the road ahead.
It’s just a pity you have to look away from the road to operate the twin touchscreens in the centre of the dashboard, with even simple things like the climate controls operated through these. The dial-based set-ups in the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio and the BMW X6 M Competition are far less distracting.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
Despite its chunky front sports seats, interior space is similar to that of the standard Q8, meaning you’ll be happy enough in the back, even if you’re tall. The sloping, coupé-like roofline isn’t so low that you feel hemmed in, while leg room is simply vast.
As a bonus, you can adjust the rear seat position for either greater passenger comfort or increased boot space, and there are some useful cubbies and storage areas for your gadgets.
A hands-free electric tailgate comes as standard, too, while the boot itself is square and generously provisioned with tie-down hooks.
True, the roofline is more of an issue here, limiting the height of the items you can carry. However, you’re still able to bring more luggage than you can in an Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio or Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupé.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
You don’t need to go for the priciest trim level to get all the fancy chassis and suspension technology – it’s standard on the "entry-level" Audi RS Q8. Mind you, with a six-digit price tag, most would agree that it ought to be.
However, the RS Q8 represents good value against the more expensive BMW X6 M Competition. The Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupé is also more costly, and requires you to make merry with the options list in order to spec it up to the level of the RS Q8.
Still, for those who crave even more features, Audi offers the Carbon Black edition, which liberally applies Alcantara-suede trim to the steering wheel, gear selector and headliner, and brings extra USB charging ports and a pair of electric sun blinds for the rear side windows. There’s also a fruitier sounding sports exhaust and a carbon exterior styling package.
Range-topping Vorsprung models, meanwhile, add an upgraded Bang & Olufsen sound system, a panoramic glass roof, a head-up display for the driver, and heated rear seats. You’ll also get Audi’s full suite of safety technology, including front and rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, speed limit recognition software and a 360-degree bird’s-eye view camera.
Given the RS Q8’s 2.4-tonne weight and hugely powerful V8 petrol engine, it’s perhaps not surprising that single-figure fuel consumption figures are entirely possible if you make full use of its performance.
However, even with your sensible trousers on, when you’re employing the mild hybrid and cylinder deactivation tech, the official average of 20.5mpg (for cars with the smaller 22in alloy wheels) is nothing to write home about.
For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here
|RRP price range||£112,405 - £130,205|
|Number of trims (see all)||3|
|Number of engines (see all)||1|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||petrol|
|MPG range across all versions||21.1 - 21.2|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||3 years / 60000 miles|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£8,121 / £9,438|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£16,242 / £18,877|