Lambo spirit, German refinement

Audi is currently gearing up to release its new flagship SUV. It’s called the Q8, and it was originally presented in concept form at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show. In its wake will follow a go-faster version called the S Q8 and, according to a recent batch of spy photos, an even-faster RS Q8 version - the latter of which will be Audi’s take on the new Lamborghini Urus.

Updated 07/18/2018: The new Audi RS Q8 was just spied testing at the Nürburgring, giving us another look at the SUV’s impressive performance potential. Read on for more details!

Spy Shots

July 18, 2018 - Audi RS Q8 Hits The Nürburgring!

2019 Audi RS Q8 Exterior
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2019 Audi RS Q8 Exterior
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Once again, we find the Audi RS Q8 shaping up to be one big, bad performance machine! That much should be obvious just from the way it looks, what with its flared wheel arches, deep intakes, and stout exhaust pipes. And then there’s the wheels - just look at those things! They’re friggin’ enormous!

That said, the speed in the RS Q8 is much more than skin deep. Under the mammoth rollers lies a set of six-pot composite brakes and high-spec suspension components, while motivation is provided by the vaunted Lamborghini Urus. Output is still a mystery, though. Check out the “Drivetrain and Performance” for additional info.

June 12, 2018 – Brake and Tow Testing with Less Camo

2019 Audi RS Q8 Exterior Spyshots
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2019 Audi RS Q8 Exterior Spyshots
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At this point, it’s pretty safe to assume that the RS Q8 will be a poor man’s Lamborghini Urus. It will use the same engine and might even deliver the same 650 horsepower. It will, however, have the same Audi styling we’ve grown to love (or hate.) This time around, it’s dropped a lot of the camo above the waste and some below. There are weird plastic inserts in the inner corner of the taillights that could be some kind of sensor. Meanwhile, it’s sporting a grille that mimics what Audi will put on the production version but doesn’t have the stand-out trim around it that we loved to hate on the new Q8. Rest assured, however, that it will come.

The front fascia has changed rather considerably. The corner air intakes are a bit larger and now come to a point on the inside, cutting down the amount of plastic between them and the grille. The air dam has also been extended to run the full width of the fascia with a small zig zag on each end to drop it below the air intakes. It’s undoubtedly rolling on bigger wheels and now has a production-style hood with the two mildly aggressive body lines.

Around back, Audi has peeled the tap off the taillights, revealing the same look we saw on the standard Q8 – you know the hatch-wide stripe that runs between the taillights? They appear a little larger now thanks to the lack of camo and the exhaust outlets have been replaced by the usual RS-style oval outlets. Our photographers reported that it did, indeed have the larger RS-style composite brakes and a much deeper exhaust note that all but confirms the Urus engine under the hood.

Whether or not Audi will down tune it a bit remains to be seen but, if it carries the same power output, you can bet we’ll be seeing a more powerful version of the Urus in the near future, so things could turn out rather strange by the time this thing goes into production. There is no official debut date set at this point, but Audi seems to be moving quickly so we could see it later this year as a 2019 model. If not, it’ll definitely show face in mid-2019 and go on sale after that.

2019 Audi RS Q8 Exterior Style

  • Aggressive exterior styling
  • Evolves Audi’s latest design language
  • Big fenders, big wheels
  • Some Audi Quattro inspiration
  • Larger central intake
  • New grille insert design
  • Pumped-up aero elements
  • Laser headlights and taillights
  • Aluminum and carbon fiber trim bits
2019 Audi RS Q8 Exterior Spyshots
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The mule was dolled up to look like the Audi S Q8, but there are a few small details that give it away as the upcoming RS Q8.

Our most recent spy shots come from the surface streets around the Nurburgring, where this test mule was undoubtedly gearing up for some foot-down test sessions.

Covered in Audi’s characteristic swirling black and white camo, the mule was dolled up to look like the Audi S Q8, but there are a few small details that give it away as the upcoming RS Q8. For starters, there’s the simply enormous brake calipers mounted in the corners, which definitely make this out to be a tuned-up version of the upcoming SUV.

Additionally, our spy photographer is reporting the SUV emits a low, grumbling exhaust note, the sort of thing you’d expect from a powerplant rocking at least eight cylinders.

Viewed from the rear, the tester is also equipped with four exhaust tips, much like you’d expect on the S Q8. However, look closely, and you’ll notice it’s just a coverup, most likely as a trick to get us thinking this isn’t the RS Q8. Foiled again!

So what can we expect when the fake exterior is finally lifted? For starters, the RS Q8 will get much of the same evolved design language previewed on 2017’s Q8 concept, with a larger central front intake, a new set of grille inserts, and aggressive cues pulled from the Audi Quattro rally car (plumped-up fenders, etc.).

Taking all that as a starting point, the RS Q8 will also get upgrades to make it stand out from its more pedestrian counterparts, including a big aero kit front and back, plus bigger wheels. We’d also expect Audi to throw in details like laser headlights and taillights, with customers getting customization options for the wheel designs and trim bits (aluminum, carbon fiber, etc.).

2019 Audi RS Q8 Interior Design

  • Resembled new A8 and Q8 concept in terms of layout
  • Horizontal elements throughout
  • Multiple touchscreens in the dash
  • Materials like glossy black trim, aluminum surrounds, leather upholstery
  • Audi Virtual cockpit behind the wheel
  • More refined than the Lambo Urus
  • Latest driver assist tech
The Audi Q8 Sport Is More Potent and Makes the Q8 e-Tron Easy to Forget High Resolution Interior
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Note: 2017 Audi Q8 Concept interior pictured here.

The dash and door panels connect in wide, horizontal, geometric shapes, stretching across the entirety of the cabin.

Unfortunately, our spy photographer was unable to snag any shots of the RS Q8 test mule’s interior, but that doesn’t mean we’re completely in the dark on that front. Rather, we can look to the Q8 Concept for clues.

In terms of design, the look and layout are quite close to that of the production Audi A8. The dash and door panels connect in wide, horizontal, geometric shapes, stretching across the entirety of the cabin in a collection of sharp angles and deep cuts.

Handling the infotainment duties is a two-tiered grouping of touchscreens, with the center console screen housing the audio, navigation, and smartphone support, while the lower screen provides inputs on the climate control system, seats and other comfort-related systems.

The materials list will include all the usual good stuff, such as glossy black piano lacquer trim, aluminum surrounds, leather upholstery, and an Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel. And given the RS Q8’s sporting intentions, we’re also expecting loads of carbon fiber bits, contrast stitching, and highly bolstered sports seats for those passengers sitting in front.

The tech stuff should also be quite top-notch. For example, driver’s will enjoy a large screen behind the wheel, which replaces the standard set of analog needles with digital readouts. Dubbed the Audi Virtual cockpit, this also offers settings for turn-by-turn navigation, among other things. Rounding it out will be a set of high-end automated driver’s assists, such as adaptive cruise control, lane guidance, speed limit recognition, and the like.

Although the RS Q8 will be somewhat similar to the Lamborghini Urus (after all, the Lambo sources its interior gear from Ingolstadt, so there will be at least some overlap), the two vehicles will be quite different in terms of interior appearances. Whereas the Lambo will be like some jet fighter cockpit (i.e., sportier), the Audi will be much more streamlined and refined (i.e., luxurious).

2019 Audi RS Q8 Drivetrain And Performance

  • Twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8
  • Could match the Urus’ 650 ponies and 627 pound-feet
  • Less output (500 horsepower) also a possibility
  • Carbon composite brakes at all four corners
  • Six-pot calipers in front
  • Mammoth rubber and wheel package
  • Adaptive suspension components
2019 Audi RS Q8 Exterior Spyshots
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The Audi RS Q8 might come with the same engine configuration at its Raging Bull sibling

Like we mentioned above, our spy photographer said this tester’s exhaust note was deep and bellowing. It would seem as though that suggests the Audi RS Q8 might come with the same engine configuration at its Raging Bull sibling.

As a reminder, we’re talking about a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8, as co-developed with Porsche.

While it’s likely the same engine configuration as the Lambo, we’re not totally sure about output levels. If it is destined to match the Lambo blow for blow, look for a maximum of 650 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque, with a run from 0 to 62 mph completed in 3.6 seconds and a top speed of 190 mph.

In the event the RS Q8 does come with Lambo-matching muscle, then we fully expect the Italians to up the ante with something like an Urus Performante sometime in the future. If not, then numbers like 500 horsepower would make sense for the RS Q8.

Harnessing all that go will be adaptive suspension pieces, as well as a fully composite big brake package, with mammoth six pistons in front to stop the hefty machine on a dime. And of course, high-performance rubber in the corners is needed for the extra stick.

2019 Audi RS Q8 Prices

2019 Audi RS Q8 Exterior Spyshots
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Look for a full reveal of the 2019 Audi RS Q8 some time next year, with an on-sale date for the 2020 model year. We’re thinking the Geneva International Motor Show would make for a good venue for the big sheet pull.

Meanwhile, the standard Q8 is due out this summer.

As for the price tag, rumor has it this high-performance flagship could top as much as $130,000, which, compared to the Lambo, would be about $70,000 in savings over the Italian alternative. If that’s the case, the Audi will have slightly less power and performance stuff as the Lambo in order to justify the Raging Bull’s premium outlay.

2019 Audi RS Q8 Competition


2015 BMW X6 M High Resolution Exterior
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BMW was one of the first out the gates in this segment, offering up a hot-to-trot iteration of its popular X6 SUV sporting all sorts of M division goodies. Packing upwards of 567 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque from a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8, the X6 M can scoot to 60 mph in less than four seconds and hit a top speed of 156 mph. Routing the muscle is an eight-speed automatic transmission and AWD system, while the interior is decked out in the latest luxury goodness and technology that the Bavarians can muster.

Read our full review of the 2015 BMW X6 M.

Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE63 AMG Coupe High Resolution Exterior
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In traditional Mercedes fashion, the AMG GLE 63 S proves that more letters and more numbers on the trunk lid make for a faster, more powerful model. Such is the case with this hunchbacked crossover SUV, which is powered by a 5.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 making as much as 577 horsepower and 561 pound-feet of torque, all of which is sent to the ground by way of a seven-speed automatic transmission to produce a 0-to-60 mph time under the 4-second mark. Inside, there’s plenty of carbon fiber and a touchscreen mounted high on the dash, plus a flat-bottomed steering wheel and rubber-studded alloy pedals.

Read our full review of the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE.


2019 Audi RS Q8 Exterior Spyshots
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Fast, luxurious SUV’s are all the rage these days, and the 2019 Audi RS Q8 will undoubtedly be a huge hit in the segment. With Lamborghini-esque power under the hood and the very latest Audi refinement in the cabin, it’ll bring all the good stuff needed to run against the top competitors from BMW and Mercedes. What’s more, if Audi throws in its impressive self-driving tech, this might be the one to get. We’ll bring you more as we get it.

  • Leave it
    • How will it ride compared to the Merc and Bimmer?
    • Competition isn’t slowing down anytime soon
    • Might steal a few sales from the Lambo


2019 Audi Q8 Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2019 Audi Q8.

The Audi Q8 Sport Is More Potent and Makes the Q8 e-Tron Easy to Forget High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2017 Audi Q8 Sport Concept.

2017 Audi Q8 E-tron Concept Exterior Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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Read our full review on the 2017 Audi Q8 E-tron Concept.

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Read more Audi news.

Jonathan Lopez
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