2023 Audi RS Q8 Review, something wicked this way comes!
This is Audi’s first mega SUV, the RSQ8, and it’s the first non-car to get the RS badge. It has joined the ranks of the Aston Martin DBX 707, BMW X6M, and the Lamborghini Urus in the SUV-that-thinks-it’s-a-supercar segment.
If you’re feeling a little short of money lately because the stock market hasn’t gone your way, then don’t panic because the 2023 Audi RSQ8 is $100k cheaper than its sibling the Lamborghini Urus. Not only that but it’s way better looking than the Urus and almost as fast.
Its hatchback rather than coupe-like roofline sits atop a lot of frameless glass, the design is crisp and very elegant. Being an SUV means it does have a chunky, high-sided body, and huge wheel arches with these massive 23-inch rims wearing Continental SportContact 6 295/35R. The brakes are huge too carbon ceramic with 6-piston calipers and 3 pistons at the rear.
It’s less subtle at the front but the V8 does need to gulp a lot of air. This huge grille looks big enough to vacuum up any smaller cars that might get in your way. The grille is flanked by cool-looking LED headlights. At the back, you get large oval exhaust outlets and a subtle rear wing.
I must make a special mention to the 48V active-roll stabilization system, it’s pure witchcraft and the the sport differential can send up to 85 percent of power to the rear axle (standard split is 40/60).
Under the hood is a 4.0L Twin-turbo direct-injected DOHC 32-valve 90-degree V-8 with 592 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. It’s driven through an 8-speed transmission which in launch mode will get you to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, 0-124mph in 13.7 seconds, and a limited top speed of 155mph. With a light right foot expect 20 mpg on the highway.
With all this power there is some bad news, it’s really easy to exceed posted speeds without realizing it since it piles on speed a lot faster than you would expect. The good news is it has a 22-gallon gas tank.
Expectations are everything so since the Audi RSQ8 is a 5,500 lb SUV I wasn’t expecting a canyon-carving sports car, but instead a very fast GT car. How wrong I was, it easily lulled me into thinking it was a sports car. I should have expected it considering it has rear-axle steering as standard, a torque-vectoring rear differential, and those electronically controlled 48-volt anti-roll bars.
Select RS1 or RS2, the difference being that RS2 lets you slacken the traction control a little, mash the go pedal, and all hell brakes loose as the turbos kick in after a brief delay. What’s shocking is how well the big Audi corners, there’s no fuss, certainly no understeer, you just power through with no fuss. On exit mash your foot again and you get the feeling that there’s more power on offer than what’s being advertised, don’t want to upset the folks over at Lamborghini now do we?
The only SUV I have driven with this kind of capability is the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Q, which was also pretty special. The quick-ratio steering rack is nicely matched to the suspension and the sheer thrust gets you up to illegal speeds in a flash but it simply doesn’t feel like you are going so fast until you check the speedometer.
I would definitely choose the carbon ceramic brakes, which are only available with the 23-inch wheels, they are superb, and amazingly reassuring when bringing the RSQ8 down from high speeds. Despite very hard use over the week they never failed to impress.
The RSQ8 will confidently chase down sports cars in the mountains as its party trick but the other thing it does amazingly well is deliver a superbly comfortable ride, I really don’t know how Audi has pulled this off. You would think that with 23-inch wheels and RS-tuned suspension, visits to the chiropractor would be frequent but they’re not.
It certainly looks and feels the part, the cabin exudes quality, and premium materials abound. The dash gets dual haptic touchscreens, a 10.1-inch unit stacked on top of an 8.6-inch screen which is purely for the climate controls. They should have used physical buttons for HVAC since delving into screen menus using a touchscreen this low down in the center console is a distraction waiting to happen.
Luckily the rest of the cabin is well-thought-out, the RS sports seats are firm, supportive, and have full massage function for both driver and passenger. Rear seat passengers get well taken care of the rear bench is comfortable and there’s ample legroom for taller folks although the sloping roofline does eat into headroom.
Opening up the powered tailgate reveals 30.5 cubic feet and 60.7 cubic feet with the rear seats folded which is interestingly identical to the Audi RS6. Spare wheel and cubbies.
The base price is $122,800 but there are some options checked. Those ceramic brakes mentioned are $8,500, the Bang and Olufsen sound system is $4,900, the executive package which includes acoustic glass, and a head-up display, is $2,800, and Night vision is $2,250,
The Luxury Package$1,500 gets you Massaging front seats, a Dinamica Headliner and the RS Design Package gives you an Alcantara-covered steering wheel and gear shifter, these black seat belts with gray edging, floor mats with the RS logo and contrasting stitching for another $1500.
With this Waitomo blue paint for $595 and destination that takes the out-the-door price to $147,780, some $100K cheaper than the Urus.
The 2023 Audi RS Q8 shines in its ability to do everything very well. it’s comfortable, crazy fast, and has the utility to haul four people across continents. No one will ever mistake this for a sports car, but its capability is deeply impressive.
The only real problem for me is that there’s another car that does all this better, it’s $20,000 cheaper, just as practical and it’s the Audi RS6. If you are an SUV lover though you can’t go with the Audi RSQ8.
2023 Audi RS Q8 Numbers
BASE PRICE: $122,800
PRICE AS TESTED: $147,780
VEHICLE LAYOUT: Front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door SUV
ENGINE: 4.0 liter twin-turbocharged DOHC 32-valve V-8
POWER: 591 hp @ 6000 rpm
TORQUE: 590 lb-ft @ 2000 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
CURB WEIGHT: 5,500 lbs
0-60 MPH: 3.5 seconds
TOP SPEED: 155 mph
BRAKES FRONT: 17.3-in vented, cross-drilled, carbon-ceramic disc
BRAKES REAR: 14.6-in vented, cross-drilled, carbon-ceramic disc
WHEELS: 23-inch Y spoke with matte titanium finish
TIRES: Continental SportContact 6 295/35R-23
EPA CITY/HWY/COMBINED: 13/20/16 mpg
OUR OBSERVED: 16.1 mpg
CARGO SPACE: 30.5 ft³, 60.7 ft³ with seat area
PROS: Incredible chassis, quicker than you think, beautiful interior.
CONS: The RS6 is cheaper