BMW X7 2019 review
Just when you thought SUVs couldn't get any bigger or more luxurious BMW lobs in the seven-seat X7. Literally made in America, it's pitched directly at Audi's similarly super-sized Q7 and the Mercedes-Benz GLS.
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Close your eyes for a moment and picture a mountain of pure performance - a towering, glimmering mound of unbridled grunt.
Okay, got it? Right, now open your eyes and look at the pictures of this all-new Audi RS Q8. There are some similarities there, right?
But while the Lamborghini tips the pricing scales at a hefty $391,968, the Audi RS Q8 is a comparative bargain at just $208,500.
So, can you consider it a cut-price Lambo? And is there go to match all that show? Let’s find out.
It feels a little strange marking such an expensive SUV so highly for value, but the truth is that, comparatively at least, it’s something of a bargain.
As I mentioned above, the key competitor for a car like this is the Lamborghini Urus (which is Audi’s stablemate) and that will set you back close to $400k. The Audi RS Q8? Almost half that, at just $208,500.
See, it’s a steal! For that money you get an engine that could power a small city and the kind of performance kit required to make a 2.2-tonne SUV go around corners at speed. But we’ll come back to all that in a moment.
You also get massive 23-inch alloys wheels outside, with red brake calipers peeking out from behind, as well as RS adaptive air suspension, a qauttro sport differential, all-wheel steering, electronic active roll stabilisation, Matrix LED headlights, a panoramic sunroof, and an RS sport exhaust.
Inside, you’ll find 'Valcona' leather seats that are heated in both rows, ambient interior lighting, leather everything, automatic sun blinds, illuminated door sills and just about every other piece of kit Audi has in its sizeable grab bag.
On the tech front, you’ll find 'Audi Connect plus' and Audi’s 'Virtual Cockpit', and a 17-speaker Bang and Olufsen 3D sound system that pairs with twin (10.1-inch and 8.6-inch) screens, capping off a seriously tech-heavy cabin.
It looks plenty striking, the RS Q8, especially dressed in the bright green paint work of that harks to its Lamborghini sibling.
There are the massive black-on silver alloys, the bright red brake calipers the size of dinner plates, and the body creases that bulge out over the rear arches like a 1950s’ pin-up model. All of which looks great.
Step around to the rear of the vehicle and you’re greeted with twin exhaust exits bookending a massive textured diffuser, a single light LED that splits the multi-globe LEDS, and the slick roof spoiler.
It’s the front-on view, though, that’s the most imposing, with a black meshed grille that looks as big as a hatchback, two LED-filled slimline headlights and massive side venting.
Climb into the cabin and you’re met by a wall of leather and technology, not to mention a sense of immense space.
Everything is digital and touch activated, of course, and yet it doesn’t feel garish and overdone.
Very damn practical, actually. Which is no great surprise, given the size of the thing, but still impressive when you consider the performance it can conjure.
It stretches more than 5.0m in length, and those dimensions translate to an absolutely massive cabin, which is actually most noticeable in the backseat, which is gigantic. You can essentially park an Audi A1 back there, such is the space on offer, but you’ll also find two USB ports, a 12-volt power outlet, digital air-con controls and leather as far as the eye can see.
There are two cupholders up front, another two in the pull down divider in the rear, and bottle holders in all doors, as well as ISOFIX attachment points for child seats.
Storage? Well, there’s lots… The backseat slides forwards or backwards to prioritise space for either passengers or cargo, unlocking 605 litres of luggage room, but with them folded flat, the RS Q8 will deliver 1755L of space. Which is a lot.
At more than two tonnes, it’s a lot of car, but that’s also a lot of power, and so the go-fast SUV can produce a cracking sprint to 100km/h of just 3.8 seconds.
The RS Q8 is also equipped with a 48-volt mild hybrid system that is ostensibly designed to lower fuel use, but is actually more useful at plugging any turbo holes when you really plant your foot.
For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, right? Well the reaction to all that power is a whole lot of fuel use.
Audi reckons the RS Q8 will sip 12.1L per 100km on the combined cycle, but we suspect that’s wishful thinking. It will also reportedly emit between around 276g/km of C02.
The big SUV is fitted with a huge 85-litre tank.
How do you describe the drive experience of the RS Q8? Utterly, utterly surprising.
I’ll give you an example. You approach the hulking SUV, check out its massive alloys wrapped in performance rubber, and you know - just know - that it will ride like a broken billycart on anything but the most silky smooth of road surfaces.
And yet, it doesn’t. Aided by its clever air suspension (which drops the ride height by 90mm when switching between Off-Road and Dynamic modes), the RS Q8 positively glides ever dodgy road surfaces, stifling lumps and bumps with surprising aplomb.
So then you think, ok, we’re set up for compliance, so this big behemoth will go around corners with all the dynamism of a spilled bowl of cereal.
But again, it doesn’t. In fact, the Audi RS Q8 attacks corners with incredible stiffness, the active anti-roll systems weaving their dark magic to keep the towering SUV straight and true, and with barely a hint of body roll.
The grip is ferocious (we’re yet to find its outer limits) and even the steering feels more direct and communicative than in other smaller, ostensibly sportier Audis.
The result is a tech-heavy spaceship that’s surprisingly easy at slow speeds, and quiet too, even over rough roads. But one that can also activate warp speed at will, leaving smaller cars in its considerable wake on the right stretch of road.
Downsides? It’s not quite willing to pounce off the line. Sure, it makes up for it in the long haul, but there is a noticeable moment of hesitation, almost as though it’s contemplating its considerably weight, before it finally lunges forward.
It’s also so competent, so efficient, that it can leave you feeling a little detached from behind the wheel, or like the Audi is doing the heavy lifting for you.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
The RS Q8 gets six airbags, as well as a host of high-tech safety equipment, with Audi pretty much throwing everything its got at its new performance flagship.
Think adaptive cruise with stop and go, lane guidance assistance, active lane assist, blind-spot monitoring and a 360-degree parking camera. You also get a parking system, pre-sense rear for nose-to-tail collisions, and an AEB system that works at up to 85km/h for pedestrians and 250km/h for vehicles.
There’s also collies avoidance assist, rear cross-traffic alert, intersection crossing assist, and an exit warning system.
All Audi’s are covered by a three year, unlimited kilometre warranty, and require annual servicing. Audi will allow you to prepay the first five years of service costs for $4060.
The Audi RS Q8 is every bit as competent as it is striking to look at - and it’s plenty striking to look at. It surely won’t appeal to everyone, but if you’re in the market for a big, boisterous SUV, the Audi ticks plenty of boxes.
And if you happen to be in the market for a Lamborghini Urus, be sure to drive this before signing on the dotted line...
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