The upcoming Audi RS Q8 is expected to arrive in international markets with a 680hp, hybrid powertrain, making it the most potent Audi when it arrives in international markets next year.
Recently spied testing, Audi Sport's future Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 rival will share its twin-turbocharged V8 petrol engine and electric motor with the Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid.
In the Porsche, the twin-scroll, twin-turbo V8 produces 550bhp and 770Nm of peak torque, while the electric motor adds 136hp and 400Nm of torque. Power is sent to the wheels via an eight-speed twin-clutch automatic transmission.
The combined system output of 680hp and 850Nm means that the RS Q8 will be more powerful than the R8 V10 Plus by about 69hp and 290Nm. Though the SUV’s higher kerb weight ensures the R8 is faster, the electrified SUV will at least offer a wider range of driving characteristics, including a pure electric and a Sport mode.
In pure electric mode, the electric half of the car’s powertrain, which will make use of lithium-ion batteries located under the car’s boot floor (and therefore impacting luggage space), is likely to offer around 43km of range. But switch to the energy-intense Sport mode and the RS Q8 should dispatch the 0-100kph sprint in around four seconds.
By comparison, the 585hp GLE 63 and rivalling 575hp BMW X6 M both take 4.2sec to hit the ton mark, while the Range Rover Sport SVR takes 4.3sec. All of these cars use unelectrified turbocharged V8 powertrains.
All versions of the Q8 get height-adjustable, sports-tuned adaptive air suspension and proper centre diff-based, torque-vectoring quattro four-wheel drive. However, standard versions don’t get 48V active anti-roll bars because, according to Audi’s product managers, such technology is not needed on a car with a relatively low roofline (for its class) and wide tracks.
The much faster RS Q8 will have to contend with far higher lateral G-forces than the less focused Q8, so it’s highly likely that Audi Sport’s engineers will employ the 48V system to enhance the car’s stability during quick cornering. The technology is used across the VW Group on several premium models, including the Bentley Bentayga.
Four-wheel steering is an option on the standard car, suggesting this might come as standard on the RS Q8 to boost agility while also enhancing high-speed stability - a welcome trait on a car that's likely to be used on cross-continental transits.
The RS Q8’s reign as the most potent Audi will also, temporarily, be accompanied by the title of most potent SUV within the VW Group. When it arrives, the electrified super SUV will outpunch the 650hp Lamborghini Urus and 550hp Porsche Cayenne Turbo, although hybrid versions of those cars are due and will almost certainly overtake the RS Q8.