Audi Q8: What No One Is Talking About
There’s a little more to the story than what meets the eye...by Safet Satara, on
Since they acquired Lamborghini, the Volkswagen Group alchemists have formulated a fantastic concoction which allows them to offer the world extreme Italian machines as well as their “lesser” German knock-offs. Audi R8 has become the poor man’s Gallardo; the new R8 is the poor man’s Huracan.
Now, with Audi revealing a rather ostentatious Q8 - an SUV with Coupe-like roof riding on universal Volkswagen MLB-Evo architecture - we are really close to having the poor man’s Lamborghini Urus. While the whole world basks in the greatness of the latest Audi SUV, I am wondering how long it will take the Audi RS Q8 to leave its Nurburgring lair, where it has already been spotted, and start taking over the autobahns and highways with the same zeal as the Urus. If the R8 is like the Huracan, could the RS Q8 be like the Urus?
What do we know about the 2019 Audi RSQ8
Back in August 2017, Audi registered the RS Q8 nameplate with the European Union Intellectual Property Office.
Sharpening its teeth on the relentless Nurburgring stretches and curves, the heavily camouflaged Audi Q8 revealed its true nature due to several more than important bits that are usually under careful scrutiny of all car lovers. Our spy photographers reported thunderous sound. Also, the photographs revealed massive wheels (true, a regular Q8 can have 23 inchers) and large perforated carbon disc brakes behind them. Rumors and hearsay have it that this Audi, which I suspect can only be a pre-production version of the RS Q8, features six-piston calipers in the front and rear.
However, before writing at lengths about the new Audi RS Q8 tech, I have to answer a more concerning question.
How do we actually know that Audi is preparing the RS Q8?
Well, aside from the suspiciously fast and loud camouflaged Q8 lookalikes on the ‘Ring, back in August 2017, Audi registered the RS Q8 nameplate with the European Union Intellectual Property Office. That is where all Euro producers head if they want to register and protect the names of their cars. If that is not enough to convince you, Audi Sport CEO, Stephan Winkelmann stated this in 2017:
“Today we have a product line-up which we are working on which will be expanded in more prestige segments and body styles which are sellable around the world, SUVs.”
While Winkelmann did not directly refer to the RS Q8, it is quite obvious he implied it. Taking a glance into the Audi Q8’s history, we can see that the Ingolstadt based manufacturer revealed two concept cars before granting us a look at the majestic production-ready Audi Q8.
Taking a glance into the Audi Q8's history, we can see that the Ingolstadt based manufacturer revealed two concept cars before granting us a look at the majestic production-ready Audi Q8.
The Audi Q8 Concept revealed at the 2017 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) features a somewhat dignified and subtle character, with the Audi Q8 Sport Concept from the 2017 Geneva Motor Show getting that astuteness of Audi performance cars. Not only that, but the one from Geneva had a more powerful mild-hybrid setup compared with the one from Detroit. None of them came close to the insane 650hp of the Urus V8, though.
2019 Audi RS Q8 Engine
The MLB-Evo platform the Q8 is based on simply could not support the integration of a V10 engine
Wouldn’t it be exceptional to have an RS Q8 with a naturally aspirated V10 from the Audi R8? It would be a blast.
And it’s not going to happen. Ever.
The MLB-Evo platform the Q8 is based on simply could not support the integration of such an engine. We do get the next best thing - a 4.0-liter, twin-turbocharged, V-from the Lamborghini Urus, Bentley for the Continental and the Bentayga, and Audi for a number of different S and RS-badged cars. It is a powerhouse dialed up to 650hp (for the Urus). As the Audi RS Q8 is a must in the world of today, I am convinced its 626 lb-ft of torque would give the large SUV a rather spirited performance. 0-62 mph in 3.5 seconds “spirited.”
There are a couple of reasons why the RS Q8 might get this engine instead of, let’s say, tech similar to the Porsche-exclusive hybrid intended for the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid. First off, this is a cheaper option, it is an already proven technology, and given the fact that the RS Q8 has to be more affordable than the Urus, the Bentayga, and the Cayenne, it is the only logical choice.
The V-8 Biturbo is an all-aluminum compact engine that is able to sit low under the bonnet
Furthermore, Audi Sport CEO Stephan Winkelmann is also former Lamborghini CEO - you know, that impeccably dressed guy with a soothing face. He will pull a string or two to get that Lambo powerhouse under the bonnet of the RS Q8. And most importantly, the V-8 Biturbo is an all-aluminum compact engine that is able to sit low under the bonnet. This lowers the center of gravity and consequently dramatically affects the driving characteristics of the SUV. In the case of the Urus, this 650hp unit granted “the best weight-to-power ratio at 3.38 kg/hp” for the big Lambo. If the Audi RS Q8 receives the same engine, we can expect similar weight-to-power ratio. After all, the diesel version of the Q8 with a 3.0-liter TDI and mild-hybrid tech tips the scales at 2,145 kilograms. The RS Q8 will be a tad heavier.
What about the 2018 Audi SQ8
The Q8 Sport concept from Geneva featured a 3.0-liter, turbocharged, V-6 with Electrically Powered Compressor (EPC) technology.
The SQ7 has been well-received by the press in Europe, and it seems that customers are not holding back in praising its 4.0-liter V-8, the 48-volt electric system, and its 435 horsepower. While one would expect of the 2019 Audi SQ8 to receive the same propulsion system, the Audi Q8 Sport Concept reminded us that hybrid is the way to go and Winkelmann’s statement to Autocar in 2017 - “Diesel is not compatible with a world car; there are countries where you cannot sell the diesel,” - showed us that the SQ8 might get something else apart from a diesel.
See, the Q8 Sport concept from Geneva featured a 3.0-liter, turbocharged, V-6 with Electrically Powered Compressor (EPC) technology. This is, in short, an electric turbo that essentially gets rid of the turbo lag and compresses air without using any of the engine’s power. The technology debuted a few years ago at an Audi and Volkswagen symposium in Vienna where Volkswagen showcased a 1.0-liter three-cylinder with that tech and 272 horsepower. This was “a nice example of just how much potential combustion engines still have in them” Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neußer, member of the board and the Volkswagen Group said on the occasion.
Now, the Q8 Sport Concept is the first official car to use the tech with a petrol engine. It is not shabby at all. Three liters and 476 horsepower. Although 20kW of power and 15 lb-ft of torque actually come from the mild hybrid setup. This made the Sport Concept a quick car - 0-62 mph in 4.7 seconds while maintaining the efficiency of a four-cylinder apparently.As the SQ8 may come to the US, this petrol option is a better bet than the 4.0-liter TDI diesel.
We need to reconcile ourselves to the fact that SUVs, performance SUVs, and Coupe-like SUVs are here to stay. Bearing in mind the success of the Cayenne, the X6M, the SQ7, the AMG GLE Coupe 63, and their likeness, the Audi RS Q8 is the only logical continuation of the car market pretentiousness.
The RS Q8 may well be the first choice of people enchanted with German precision and astuteness (recently infused in Lamborghini vehicles as well) who sadly do not have Porsche (or Lambo) money laying around. Although this monster will be more affordable compared to the recently announced top-notch Cayenne Coupe or the Urus, be warned, the RS Q8 price most likely won’t be affordable to your everyday Jane and Joe - I have no doubt that the Audi RS Q5 price will top $110,000.
Read our full review on the 2019 Audi Q8.
Read our full speculative review on the 2019 Audi RS Q8.
Read our full review on the 2017 Audi Q8 Sport Concept.
Read our full review on the 2017 Audi Q8 E-tron Concept.