New Audi RS Q8 blasts in with 592bhp

The Audi RS Q8 will be the company’s flagship model when it goes on sale in early 2020

The Audi RS Q8 has been uncovered at the LA Motor Show. It’s a performance version of the Audi Q8 SUV and has almost 600bhp. When it reaches dealerships in the first few months of next year, it’ll go head-to-head with the BMW X6, Mercedes GLE Coupe and Porsche Cayenne Coupe. Prices start at €127,000 in Germany (almost £110,000), with UK prices yet to be finalised.

A 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine with two turbochargers provides plenty of power. There’s 592bhp on tap from as little as 2,250rpm, so 0-62mph takes just 3.8 seconds - almost as quick as a Lamborghini Huracan. Top speed is limited to 155mph but it can be lifted to 190mph as an option.

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Audi has fitted a 48-volt mild-hybrid system to reduce fuel consumption. It uses a belt alternator-starter, and stores recuperated energy in a small battery. Between 34 and 99mph, the system can harvest energy or coast for up to 40 seconds when you take your foot off the accelerator. The stop-start system works at up to 13mph, and uses the front camera to re-engage the engine when the car in front starts moving. There’s also cylinder deactivation technology, so the eight-cylinder engine can run on four cylinders under light load to save fuel.

An eight-speed automatic gearbox is standard, as is Audi’s permanent quattro all-wheel-drive system and a central differential. The latter shuffles power between the front and rear wheels; in normal driving, 60% is sent to the rear wheels but between 30 and 85% of the power can be directed rearwards. A sports differential that can distribute the power between the rear wheels (for better stability and traction) is optional.

Adaptive sports-tuned air suspension is fitted and, depending on the quality of the road surface, the body height can be varied by as much as 90mm. All-wheel-steering is also included, turning the rear wheels either the same way or the opposite way to the front wheels by up to five degrees. At low speeds, the wheels turn the opposite way to improve agility, while driving at higher speed sees the rear wheels follow the fronts for greater stability.

Just like other recently revealed Audi RS models, the RS Q8 lets you choose between a number of different driving modes. There are eight in total, including allroad and offroad modes and two RS-specific modes, and flicking between them changes the throttle response, steering, engine sound, suspension and the speed of gear shifts.

The RS Q8 sits on huge 22-inch wheels (the largest Audi has ever fitted as standard), and you can have them a size larger as an option. As is usual for Audi RS-badged cars, the octagonal honeycomb grille and much of the exterior trim are painted in gloss black, while the rear end features a bigger tailgate spoiler and a redesigned bumper with a new diffuser and a pair of large oval-shaped exhausts. The RS Q8 gets body-coloured trim strips above each wheel, widening the car by 10mm. Nine paint shades - eight of which are either metallic or pearl-effect - and two different headlight clusters are available.

The sportiness continues inside, with a flat-bottomed RS-specific steering wheel, exclusive graphics on the infotainment and Virtual Cockpit screens, ambient lighting and illuminated entry plates. Sports seats, trimmed in leather and Alcantara suede-like fabric, are standard, but Audi will fit leather RS bucket seats with massaging and ventilation for extra cost. Audi’s top-spec MMI infotainment system is expected to be fitted as standard, which includes a Wi-Fi hotspot and a predictive navigation system that learns your frequent routes and provides suggestions.

We’re told that there are over 30 driver assistance systems, including features like a 360-degree camera, adaptive cruise control and intersection assist.

Read our reviews of the Audi Q8 and Audi SQ8, or check out our guide to the best large SUVs to buy now.

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