Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
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.
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