Skip advert
Advertisement
In-depth reviews

Audi RSQ8 review - ride and handling

Audi Sport’s RSQ8 is its biggest and heaviest model yet, but the brand is on form recently so could this actually be an entertaining SUV?

Evo rating
Price
from £103,750
  • Deeply impressive powertrain, transmission calibration and response. Feels expensive and fully loaded
  • It can’t hide the extra 300kg it weighs over an RS6, yet it’s less practical and more expensive

Set off in the RSQ8’s more benign modes and you’ll be hard-pressed to tell this is Audi’s most aggressive and powerful SUV yet. The engine is near-silent, and even at low speeds the 23-inch wheel and tyre package gently glides over even Britain's potted tarmac. Audi Sport has worked hard in adding a layer of sophistication to the low-speed ride quality in its recent models, and it’s no different in the RSQ8. The light steering, soft throttle response and general ease of use only exaggerate this feeling, but prod some buttons (virtual or physical) and the RSQ8’s trick of transforming itself from family cruiser into something more violent comes to the fore.

Advertisement - Article continues below

> Lamborghini Urus review – is this the first super-SUV?

The innocuous RS button on the steering wheel jumps through the RSQ8’s multiple driver modes to a BMW M-style ‘ideal’ combination of driver settings. Now, the RSQ8 drops its standard air springs, adds weight to the steering, sharpens up the throttle and opens the V8’s exhaust flaps. But the RSQ8 is such a hardware-heavy car that the changes continue, as the rear-wheel steering, active anti-roll bars and even the air conditioning all optimise for ‘speedy driving’, as the German engineers so comically put it. 

The result? It does feel quantifiably more responsive and, for lack of a better word, ‘sporty’ than you might expect of a 2.3-ton SUV. Grip the satisfyingly firm and thin steering wheel and you drive the RSQ8 fully aware of its mass, carefully guiding it through a bend without wanting to get out of step with the road surface. The steering is completely dead, but then you’d expect as much when it’s directing 45kg worth of wheel and tyre (per corner!). You turn in, wait for weight to settle, then get onto the throttle and carefully feed it in knowing there’s 592bhp that will be chomping through the prop shafts ready to send the RSQ8’s nose straight ahead of you. And yet it just hooks up and goes.

Keep pushing harder into corners, start leaning on the 440mm (optional) carbon-ceramic brakes, turn in with more aggression, get greedy with the throttle; the RSQ8 just laps it all up. There are of course physical hardware elements like the rear-wheel steering and torque vectoring rear differential facilitating this, but you still never quite believe that a car of this size and weight is able to carry such speed through bends. Begin take liberties with the RSQ8 and it still doesn’t relent, goading you to sharpen your inputs to see what it’ll do. And? Well, nothing really. It still doesn’t complain, doesn’t exhibit the hateful chassis wobble that sometimes afflicts other overpowered SUVs, it barely even chirps a tyre as you purposely apply too much throttle coming out of a hairpin. It just lays all that power down on the road inch by inch. It's remarkable.

The issue is, I wouldn’t exactly call it fun. Bemusing, maybe. But enjoyable? No. The irony is that the RSQ8 is barely (or not at all) any more practical than the new RS6 Avant, which itself isn’t a lightweight considering it tops two tons, but feels every bit 300kg lighter and is genuinely entertaining. Compared to its SUV rivals the RSQ8 is more capable than most, although the Porsche Cayenne Turbo still feels a little sharper, even if it lacks the Audi's firepower.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement

Most Popular

Le Mans 24 Hours 2024: Ferrari triumphs (again) with the 499P
Le Mans 24 Hours 2024
News

Le Mans 24 Hours 2024: Ferrari triumphs (again) with the 499P

The 2024 Le Mans 24 Hours was a thriller, with a record-breaking number of Hypercars, changeable weather and the new LMGT3 class making its debut
16 Jun 2024
Lotus Elise S2 v Toyota MR2 Mk3 v Porsche Boxster S 987: The best affordable mid-engined sports cars
Used mid-engined bargains
Group tests

Lotus Elise S2 v Toyota MR2 Mk3 v Porsche Boxster S 987: The best affordable mid-engined sports cars

Everyone should own a mid-engined car at least once in their life, and the S2 Elise, Mk3 MR2 and 987 Boxster S are brilliant places to start
15 Jun 2024
The new Alpine A290 sounds like the electric hot hatch we’ve been waiting for
Alpine A290 – front
News

The new Alpine A290 sounds like the electric hot hatch we’ve been waiting for

We’ve seen the concept, driven a prototype, and now Alpine has unveiled its A290 hot hatch in its final form
13 Jun 2024