Having given the Q8 and SQ8 a nip and tuck last fall, Audi is now rounding off the lineup by updating the range-topping RS Q8. The swoopy SUV brings along a new Performance version to echo other RS-badged cars that have received a meaner derivative. After spicy gas models such as the RS4, RS5, RS6, and RS7 Performance, here comes the most powerful of them all.

The RS Q8 Performance shoots up to the top of the power board for a pure gas model from Ingolstadt. With a monstrous 631 hp on tap, it even outpunches the defunct R8 with its naturally aspirated V-10 engine. The latest SUV to carry the Four Rings packs 627 pound-feet of torque from an uprated twin-turbo, 4.0-liter V-8. It’s enough muscle for a sprint to 62 mph in only 3.6 seconds before hitting a top speed of 190 mph.

The newly added oomph has helped Audi shave off nearly six seconds from the Nürburgring lap time of the old RS Q8. At the same time, the new Performance becomes the fastest production SUV around the Green Hell. Racing and development driver Frank Stippler completed a lap of the Nordschleife in 7 minutes and 36.69 seconds to dethrone the Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT (7:38.92), improving the record by more than two seconds.

The very same driver also recently helped Audi win the title for the fastest production compact car at the famous German track with the upcoming 2025 RS3 Sedan.

Audi is still going to sell a regular RS Q8 with the V-8 dialed down to a considerably lower 591 hp, or 40 fewer ponies than the top-dog Performance model. Sticking to the base model means you’re also losing 37 lb-ft torque, at 590 lb-ft. That’s not to say the regular RS Q8 is a slouch since it’ll do the sprint in 3.8 seconds, only two-tenths of a second slower than the new variant. Top speed is electronically capped at 155 mph but the limiter can be loosened up to 174 mph or 190 mph.

The dynamic duo inherits the styling changes we saw last year on the Q8 and SQ8 but there’s a different honeycomb front grille. The pattern extends onto the enlarged air intakes to lend the RS models a more aggressive appearance. In keeping with Audi’s sportiest vehicles, there are oval tips at the back. Speaking of which, the Performance model gets a newly developed lighter exhaust with reduced back pressure and a deeper soundtrack. An optional RS sport exhaust system brings even greater noise.

The RS Q8 looks smart with matrix LED headlights and a laser high-beam while the OLED taillights have five customizable light signatures. If you’re feeling adventurous, Audi offers matte gold 23-inch wheels with meaty 295/35 tires. Ceramic brakes are available at an additional cost and come with 440-mm front and 370-mm rear discs. A striking Sakhir Gold paint job is offered, alongside newly added Ascari Blue and Chili Red. Fender flares would’ve been nice but the VW Group wants you to buy the more expensive Lamborghini Urus if you’re after the ultimate performance SUV.

These high-end Q8 models come with perforated sport seats featuring honeycomb stitching. Audi wraps the steering wheel in Alcantara and uses microfiber from recycled bottles for the gear selector and other areas. For greater comfort, adaptive air suspension is standard and can adjust the ride height by up to 3.5 inches. There’s even electromechanical active roll stabilization and rear-wheel steering.

US pricing is not available for now but the Audi RS Q8 costs €141,900 in Germany where the Performance model retails from €155,700. In Europe, the order books open on June 27.

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Last Update: June 25, 2024

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