Audi's newest vehicle outfitted with an RS placard isn't exactly its best-kept secret. It also isn't a two-door coupe or even a hot-styled wagon. Like many automakers, Audi decided to invest in the growing market of performance-oriented SUVs and hotly equip its best-of-breed Q8 with more power than you'll know what to do with.
The RS Q8 fills the intermediate gap between two distant, yet related automakers. Specifically, it caters towards buyers who are uninterested in the day-to-day dealings of the Audi Q8 but can't quite justify the sporty and sporadic nature of the Lamborghini Urus. It's almost as if the automaker dressed the raging bull in a suit and readied it for an important meeting.
Under the hood sits a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 which, combined with a 48-volt mild-hybrid architecture, pumps out a respectable 592 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. Power is fed directly to an eight-speed automatic gearbox and delivered to the ground via Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system.
In all, that's enough to propel the SUV from zero to 60 in 3.8 seconds, or just a few tenths of a second slower than the Urus. Audi says that when equipped with its RS ceramic brakes, the RS Q8 will continue accelerating all the way to 189.5 miles per hour—or just as fast as its brother from Italy.
The RS Q8 ensures that carving up corners can be an enjoyable experience too, with variable ground clearance, all-wheel steer, and electromechanical active roll stabilization, the large SUV minimizes body roll and significantly improves cornering.
Earlier this year, Audi even set a new record at the Nurburgring Nordschleife for fastest SUV around the track at a surprising 7 minutes and 42 seconds. You can watch that run below:
Of course, a proper German performance vehicle wouldn't be complete without proper styling. Razor-sharp body lines and wide-contoured wheel arches give the RS Q8 its aggressive profile, while a revised front fascia with bits of gloss black and matte aluminum provides a significantly sportier appearance compared to the base Q8.
The SUV's interior isn't free from the grasps of Audi's 25-year-old Sport division either. A well-refined interior features everything one might expect from a luxury vehicle, plus the addition of red-trimmed carbon fiber, seats trimmed to match the grille, and a flat-bottom steering wheel. Additionally, an RS-specific instrument panel will display performance statistics like lap times, g-force, torque, and tire pressure.
U.S. buyers can expect to take delivery of an RS Q8 sometime next year, marking the first RS-branded SUV to hit American soil. Audi tells us that pricing will be announced closer to the vehicle's release, though something tells us that it's likely to fall well below the Urus' $200,000 price tag.