- the audi rs q8 is the new high-performance version of audi's mid-size q8 suv.
- it has a twin-turbo 4.0-liter v-8 engine with 591 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque.
- sales will start in europe first in spring 2020, with more u.s. information set to come later on next year.
capping off audi sport's 25th anniversary year is a completely new rs model that isn't exactly the german automaker's best-kept secret. camouflaged versions of the new rs q8 were spotted on the nürburgring ages ago—and even set a new suv record there recently—but now audi has finally revealed most of the details about its performance-minded mid-size suv "coupe."
the real story here is the powertrain, which combines a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter v-8 with an eight-speed automatic transmission and a quattro permanent all-wheel-drive system. this engine, an huge upgrade from the v-6 cylinder in the standard q8, is also used in the audi rs6 avant and rs7 sportback. in the europe-spec rs q8 (audi has not yet provided full details for the u.s.-spec model) it will produce 591 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque and offer a claimed zero-to-62 miles per hour blast in just 3.8 seconds. the rs q8 has an electronically governed top speed of 155 mph, unless you get the optional dynamic package, which pushes that to nearly 190 mph.
a 48-volt hybrid system uses a lithium-ion battery to boost efficiency when decelerating and when full power isn't required. start-stop operation is also possible at speeds under 14 mph, and the front-facing camera tells the system that the car in front of you has started moving again, triggering the engine to start up again. moving your foot to the accelerator has the same effect. audi's cylinder on demand system further improves fuel economy by shutting down half of the cylinders at what audi calls "low to intermediate load." like in the rs6 and rs7, a "coasting" feature that can shut off the engine between speeds of 34 and 99 mph won't be enabled in the u.s.
any audi rs model is required by german law, we're assuming, to have oval tailpipes and a roof edge spoiler, and the rs q8 delivers on that front. other exterior touches include bigger air intakes and an optional sport exhaust system with black tailpipe trim that spits out a supposedly sportier sound. there are nine exterior paint colors on offer, and black and carbon styling packages will be available. no matter what color you get, an rs-specific grille flows out the extra trim above the wheel arches that widen the rs q8's body by 0.4 inch in front and 0.2 inch in back.
the standard wheels on the rs q8 are 22-inch, 10-spoke aluminum wrapped in 295/40-series tires, the largest audi says it has ever installed at the factory on a production model. you can also opt for 23-inch, five-spoke rotor design aluminum wheels in a variety of colors that you can only get on the rs q8.
inside, the rs q8 features audi's mmi dual-touchscreen setup. rs-specific displays are a given, as are rs-embossed sport seats in black pearl nappa leather and alcantara. a three-seat reach bench is standard.
the new audi rs q8 goes on sale in europe in the first quarter of 2020 and should arrive in the u.s. shortly after that. audi has not announced a price yet, but we're thinking it will start somewhere around the $120,000 mark.