2020 Audi RS Q8

Release Date
Summer/fall 2020
Price Range

What to expect

  • Audi's most luxurious SUV, now powered by a V8 with nearly 600 hp
  • Considerable mechanical upgrades enhance corner-carving abilities
  • Bold exterior and cabin styling
  • A new high-performance variant of the Q8 that launched last year

2020 Audi RS Q8 review
Audi's Most Powerful SUV Ever Earns Its RS Badge
What is it?

Like other so-called SUV coupes, the Audi Q8 sacrifices some of the inherent practicality of the vehicle on which it's based for a more dynamic presence. In the Q8's case, that means ditching the third row of the Audi Q7 and restyling the roof for a sleeker appearance. We've been happy with the results, and the Q8 is high on our rankings of the best midsize luxury SUVs.

But there's always room for improvement, and Audi is using this year's LA Auto Show as the launching pad for its new high-performance SUV. The 2020 Audi RS Q8 replaces the standard turbocharged V6 with a thundering twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8, making a monumental 591 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque. Think of a Porsche Cayenne Turbo with a bit more power and you get the idea.

2020 Audi RS Q8 - Rear 3/4
2020 Audi RS Q8
How fast is it?

Audi says the 600-hp RS Q8 should beat the Porsche Cayenne Turbo in a drag race — Audi predicts a 3.8-second 0-100 kph (0-62 mph) run, just ahead of the Cayenne Turbo. This is the most powerful crossover Audi has ever produced, and that monster engine gives the RS Q8 the legs to run with other ultra-exclusive SUVs.

But straight-ahead performance isn't the only ace up the Audi's sleeve. As with the standard Q8, the RS uses a 48-volt mild hybrid system for reduced fuel consumption and more seamless engine startup while pulling away from a stop. The RS Q8 also uses cylinder deactivation to reduce fuel consumption when you aren't tapping into the prodigious power.

Upgrades extend far beyond the powertrain, however. The standard Q8 is equipped with adaptive dampers for a personalized ride experience, and the RS steps up to an air suspension for even more customization. It offers additional sport modes for adventurous drivers, and the body sinks up to 3.5 inches between comfort and maximum-attack modes. For owners looking to eke out every bit of performance, the Dynamic Package Plus raises the top speed from 155 mph to nearly 190 mph. It also adds a sport rear differential, carbon-ceramic brakes and Audi's electromechanical active roll stabilization system, which helps reduce body roll in high-speed turns.

What about aesthetic changes?

While there are a lot of behind-the-scenes enhancements, the Audi RS Q8 is no sleeper — its aerodynamic body kit and gloss-black accents clearly indicate it isn't messing around. There is also an RS-specific grille, rear spoiler, rear valence, and your choice of 22- or 23-inch wheels. Even decked out in one of its sillier colors (like the loud-as-your-uncle's-Hawaiian-shirt lime green), the RS Q8 is serious business.

Though the interior will be familiar to any owner of a top-tier Q8, the RS dresses the cabin in unique accents to reinforce its athletic intentions. The sport seats are aggressively bolstered to keep occupants in place during spirited corner-carving. Leather upholstery with faux suede inserts helps wick away sweat during summer months, while full premium leather with a honeycomb pattern is optional. And even though Audi is hitting the performance theme pretty hard on the inside, keep in mind the heated and ventilated front seats also offer a massaging function.

2020 Audi RS Q8 - Front 3/4
2020 Audi RS Q8
Why does it matter?

Unlike BMW with its M cars or Mercedes-Benz and its AMGs, Audi has been reluctant to slap the RennSport badge on its SUV line. The SQ5 is the closest it's ever come, and the resulting small crossover/turbocharged V6 combo is impressive. We're hoping for a similarly excellent execution with the larger RS Q8.

This hot SUV is a sign that Audi is taking the luxury-performance crossover market seriously and that it won't just cede the space to its corporate cousins, Porsche and Lamborghini.

2020 Audi RS Q8 - Front Interior
2020 Audi RS Q8
What does it compete with?

Though the high-performance SUV class might seem like a niche segment, there are quite a few riotous grocery-getters on the market. The most significant rival is the new Mercedes-Benz GLE 63 AMG, stuffing a twin-turbocharged V8 into what we think is the best midsize luxury SUV on the market. There's also the new BMW X6 M, plus stalwarts that include the Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR, the Maserati Levante and any number of Porsche Cayenne variants.

2020 Audi RS Q8 - Rear Interior
2020 Audi RS Q8
Edmunds says

The Audi RS Q8 adds greater performance to Audi's superb, range-topping crossover. The only hard part is waiting to get our hands on one.