Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Sorry, there are no cars that match your search

You are here

Audi RS Q8 2021 review

The RS Q8 is both practical and potent.
EXPERT RATING
8.1
Can an SUV be a proper sports car? Can a sports car be practical? And is the Audi RS Q8 a far cheaper answer to the Lamborghini Urus? These questions and more answered as we put it to the test.

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? 

Audi’s first performance SUV in the upper-large segment looks the business. It also looks, if you squint a bit, a little like the Lamborghini Urus with which it shares an engine and platform. 

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. 

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

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.

The RS Q8 stretches more than 5.0m in length. The RS Q8 stretches more than 5.0m in length.

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. 

The RS Q8 wears massive 23-inch alloy wheels. The RS Q8 wears massive 23-inch alloy wheels.

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. 

The top touchscreen operates the sat nav and other multimedia systems. The top touchscreen operates the sat nav and other multimedia systems.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   9/10

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.

The RS Q8 is very striking. The RS Q8 is very striking.

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.

Climb into the cabin and you’re met by a wall of leather and technology. Climb into the cabin and you’re met by a wall of leather and technology.

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

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's enough space in the back seat for an Audi A1. There's enough space in the back seat for an Audi A1.
  • Rear passengers get two USB ports, a 12-volt power outlet, and digital air-con controls. Rear passengers get two USB ports, a 12-volt power outlet, and digital air-con controls.

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.

  • With the rear seats in place, boot space is rated at 605 litres. With the rear seats in place, boot space is rated at 605 litres.
  • Fold the back seats down and cargo capacity grows to 1755L. Fold the back seats down and cargo capacity grows to 1755L.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   9/10

The Audi RS Q8’s 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 produces a monstrous 441kW and 800Nm, sent to all four wheels via an eight-speed triptronic automatic.

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 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 makes 441kW/800Nm. The 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 makes 441kW/800Nm.

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.

How much fuel does it consume?   6/10

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.

What's it like to drive?   9/10

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. 

The RS Q8 is a tech-heavy spaceship that’s surprisingly easy at slow speeds. The RS Q8 is a tech-heavy spaceship that’s surprisingly easy at slow speeds.

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 Audi RS Q8 attacks corners with incredible stiffness. The Audi RS Q8 attacks corners with incredible stiffness.

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. 

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   9/10

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. 

Don’t expect Audi to crash an RS Q8 anytime soon, but the regular Q8 recorded a full five stars when ANCAP tested in 2019.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

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.

Verdict

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...

EXPERT RATING
8.1
Price and features8
Design9
Practicality8
Engine & trans9
Fuel consumption6
Driving9
Safety9
Ownership7
Andrew Chesterton
Contributing journalist

Share