Green and mean: Audi takes top honours in the high-performance SUV class. Picture: SUPPLIED
Green and mean: Audi takes top honours in the high-performance SUV class. Picture: SUPPLIED

The Audi RS Q8 has been unveiled as the king of high-performance SUVs, with a Nurburgring lap record to prove it.

The Super SUV made its official world debut at the Los Angeles Motor Show on November 20, fresh from setting a 7:42.253 laptime around the iconic Nordschleife (northern loop) of Germany’s Nurburgring racetrack earlier this month. In so doing it dethroned the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S which set a laptime seven seconds slower nearly a year ago.

Built on the same platform as the Lamborghini Urus, the RS Q8 is the new halo model of Audi’s crossover SUV range which was launched in SA earlier this year as a rival to BMW’s X6 and the Mercedes GLE Coupe.

Power comes from a 4.0l twin-turbo V8 with outputs of 441kW and 800Nm — it’s the same fire spitting engine found in the Audi RS6 Avant and RS7 Sportback.

To save fuel the engine features cylinder deactivation, as well as mild-hybrid system that uses a generator to recover energy under braking. It allows the vehicle to coast at up to 160km/h for up to 40 seconds at a time before the engine’s restarted.

The interior gets signature Audi Sport embellishments like sports seats clad in Nappa and Alcantara, a flat-bottom steeering wheel, and RS logos. Picture: SUPPLIED
The interior gets signature Audi Sport embellishments like sports seats clad in Nappa and Alcantara, a flat-bottom steeering wheel, and RS logos. Picture: SUPPLIED

But let’s get to the interesting numbers. The bulky SUV’s performance outguns many sportscars, blitzing the 0-100km/h sprint in a claimed 3.8 seconds and topping out at 305km/h.

Power’s laid down through an eight-speed automatic transmission and rear-biased quattro all-wheel drive, assisted by a torque-vectoring rear differential and all-wheel steering. The adaptive air suspension’s also beefed up over regular Q8 models for improved cornering agility, aided by an active anti-roll system.

Identifying it as the big dog in the range is a more aggressive-looking body kit, dual-oval exhaust tips, and up to 23-inch wheels. By pressing a button the driver can open exhaust flaps to produce a raunchier sound.

The interior gets signature Audi Sport embellishments like sports seats clad in Nappa and Alcantara, a flat-bottom steering wheel, and RS logos.

Standard driver-assist features include adaptive cruise control, a surround-view camera and lane change warning.

The RS Q8 is scheduled for a South African launch in the second quarter of next year.