Sleek and Really Sexy Is the Coupe-Like 2020 Audi RS Q8
By Zack Spencer
Tenerife, Spain - Automakers, over the past few years, have been choosing more and more remote parts of the world to showcase new vehicles.
In the past year, I have attended events in South Africa, Australia, Chile and recently Tenerife for the launch of the 2020 Audi RS Q8.
The RS version of the popular Q8 is now the top-of-range vehicle in the brand’s SUV lineup. Before we fire up the engine, a few words on the product development background.
To make this an RS model, Audi has plumbed in the same twin-turbo V8 engine used in other products inside the VW Group, like the Porsche Cayenne Turbo and Lamborghini Urus.
So what makes this model different from its stablemates? - Typically what happens is each brand goes away with the basic equipment - not that it’s basic - then designs specific software and tuning for the product it wants to provide for its customers.
Audi wanted a 365-day-a-year car. It has to do all the mundane things like taking the kids to school and going to work. But when you have the opportunity to get onto roads like those available on Tenerife it must perform.
Let me paint a picture of Tenerife that shows why it’s perfect for such a car launch. This island has such diverse geography; it is like visiting several locations in one. Located off the African coast of Morocco, this Spanish Island is the largest of the Canary Islands, and a favourite tourist spot for all of Europe, especially those pale Brits looking for some colour or heat during the long winter months.
Massive condominium complexes cover the coast, which to be honest feels a bit soulless. However, when you get away from the coast and head into the island’s centre, the scenery overloads the senses.
It is a volcanic island with a recently active volcano called Mount Teide at its centre, the last large eruption occurred in 1909, a short period of time ago geologically. On one side, heading into the park, are terraced pastures with a twisty mountain road, perfect to drive the beautiful looking, coupe-like sport-ute.
So tempted though you are to gaze at the ever-changing scenery, driver attention to the road is essential. It can quickly change from a Mars-like, terrain into lush, fog or cloud, covered forest with wispy pine trees, similar to those found in many parts of Canada.
Yes, This drive was to be all about performance, not taking the kids to school.
This large utility vehicle drives like any other Audi on the busy coastal roads. Once unleashed it is a loud 600hp pavement-eating machine, with AWD, proving to always be a refined Audi but with a lot more power.
Different drive modes firm the standard air suspension; adjust throttle response, along with steering input, exhaust noise and transmission sensitivity. The RS1 setting has the most aggressive suspension, then RS2 the more mellow feel for that drive to work. I call this the chameleon effect. Guess I’ll have to wait until later in the year for that experience.
The long, straight, stretches of the route, interrupted by sudden curves, offer the opportunity to put to the test those drive settings. The 8-speed Tiptronic transmission shifts are very quick with no discernible lag to the driver.
It can be a bit lacklustre to drive at times in the transition to track-like conditions, considering there is 600hp afoot. Yes, the sport settings do make this more assertive but the driver has to really ask the RS Q8 to wake up in order to feel the true performance. It might have been better to have it a bit more lively for everyday fun.
It should be said that this large utility vehicle definitely leans towards the luxury aspects of what Audi does best, understandably so because of the market to which it is designed to appeal.
That said, the lack of soft-touch materials on the lower part of the door panels was disappointing. This is a trend we have been seeing in German luxury vehicles but considering this is the flagship utility from Audi, more attention to small details like this would certainly make the buyer feel special, in my opinion.
No prices yet and we’re a few months away from the RS version of the Q8 arriving in dealerships. You can perhaps estimate potential sticker price by looking at the price differentials in the rest of the RS range to the regular versions.
Overall, this is one gorgeous machine to look at and drive, in fact, RS could stand for really sexy. I think the kids will enjoy it too in the Fall.
Now view my video of the drive and enjoy the view of this beautiful part of the world.