Evidently, this is the year of Audi performance models. Within the past couple of weeks, pricing details have emerged on the 2020 SQ7 and SQ8, as well as the 2021 RS 6 Avant and RS 7; now we get the final figures for the last big performance vehicle in the lineup, the 2020 RS Q8 — the ultimate version of the five-seat Q8.
Initial reports indicated that the RS Q8 would carry a 2021 model year, but Cars.com has received confirmation from Audi that it will be a “late 2020” model and is expected to arrive at dealerships in late spring or early summer.
Surprisingly, the RS Q8 is actually cheaper than the smaller RS 7 fastback. The RS Q8 starts at $113,995 (including a $995 destination charge); that’s $1,000 less than the RS 7, though I wouldn’t say the RS Q8 is a bargain by any stretch. Still, for that money, you get plenty of performance out of the first Audi SUV on U.S. shores to get the full RS treatment.
The engine is the same one found in the other new RS models: a 591-horsepower, twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 that makes 590 pounds-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive are both standard, and the all-wheel-drive system can direct up to 70% of the torque to the front wheels and 85% to the rear. The rear also gets active torque vectoring, which can shift power to the left or right rear wheel during cornering to enhance stability. The RS Q8’s 0-60-mph sprint happens in just 3.7 seconds on its way to a 155-mph top speed, and if you opt for the available ceramic brakes, that speed ceiling goes all the way up to 190 mph.
The RS Q8 shares many features with its other RS brethren: two additional RS drive modes activated via a button on the steering wheel, a honeycomb grille design and giant wheels (22 inches in this instance). One feature that’s unique to the RS Q8 is its standard active roll stabilization, which distributes roll torque between the front and rear axles to keep the vehicle more stable while cornering. An air suspension and all-wheel steering are also standard.
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This being the first RS SUV to come to America, we haven’t had the chance before to see how all of these performance parts work on a big vehicle like this. But from what we know so far, I can personally assure you that, if there’s a spot to line up and find out, I’ll be there with my camping chair planted.
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