AUDI RS Q8

FIRST OVERSEAS DRIVE

JOHN CAREY

SIBLING RIVALRY

A UDIíS URUS is a succinct way to summarise the new RS Q8. Extensive Audi Sport improvements make this highperformance version of the Q8 the quickest-ever SUV around the Nurburgring. Does this 7m42s feat make Lamborghini envious? Probably, although SantíAgata Bolognese can derive some consolation from the fact that their SUV is fractionally quicker 0-100km/h; 3.6 seconds, compared with 3.8 seconds for the RS Q

The new Audi and the Lamborghini are the pinnacle performers built on VW Groupís MLB Evo architecture.

This platform provides foundations for the VW Touareg, Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne and Bentley Bentayga, as well as the Q8 and Urus.

The pair share much drivetrain and chassis hardware, including the core of their twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8s. While the Lamborghini version has specific†cylinder heads to enable its 478kW maximum, the Audi Sport version isnít far behind with 441kW.

The RS Q8 drives through an eightspeed auto and an all-wheel-drive system featuring a mechanical centre differential set up to send more torque to the rear axle. It rides on air springs and adaptive dampers, and has rearwheel steering. Active anti-roll bars, ceramic brakes and 23-inch wheels and tyres are optional in Europe, where RS Q8 deliveries begin early this year.

When the Audi reaches Oz around August, itís likely to wear a $250,000 price tag. Steep, sure, but Lamborghini asks $390,000 for the Urus.†hard to fault. The Audiís steering wasnít especially communicative, and the carís bulk often was daunting.

Fiercely fast in a straight line, the RS Q8 isnít bad through bends. The fully optioned examples sampled at the international launch on Tenerife coped well with narrow, winding mountain roads in rain and fog. The auto made the occasional thumpy shift, but grip was great and handling

It felt more at home on the motorway, where the air springs delivered a smooth ride and there was time to take in the RS Q8ís attractive and spacious interior. It shares the same wheelbase as the Q7, so thereís ample room in the rear.

Though the Q8 is Audiís answer to established SUV coupes like the BMW X6 and Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe, itís more attractive and less compromised. The shape is more highrise hatchback than coupe. With its flatter roofline and deeper rear glass, headroom is better and all-round vision is less restricted.

The RS Q8ís engine wears a bolton, belt-drive 48-volt motor-generator, making it a very mild hybrid.†The system reduces consumption incrementally, but the Audiís mental speed and two tonne-plus weight guarantee it will be a fuel hog. Official consumption is high at 12.1L/100km Ė but still a little less than a Urus uses.

JOHN CAREY

Model Audi RS Q8†

Engine 3996cc V8 (90į), dohc, 32v, twin-turbo, mild hybrid†

Max power 441kW @ 6000rpm

Max torque 800Nm @ 2200-4500rpm

Transmission 8-speed automatic†

Weight 2300kg (estimated)†

0-100km/h 3.8sec (claimed)

Economy 12.1L/100km†

Price $250,000 (estimated)

On sale Q3 2020

PLUS

Performance; grip; ride comfort; exterior design; space and fit-out

MINUS

Handling impressive but not involving; autoís occasional clunk; weight; thirst