• The RS Q8 is Audi's most powerful SUV yet.
• While performance driven, the SUV can double as comfortable road trip companion.
• Various driving modes influences the SUV's on-road dynamics.
• For more motoring stories, go to Wheels24
When one thinks of the word 'performance', it's unlikely that thoughts of comfort and ease of driving will sneak into your mind. And why would it, because 'performance' is associated with brute force and speed. And while this may be true to some extent, we reached out to Audi South Africa and requested the latest performance SUV to have joined their portfolio: the monstrous RS Q8.
The RS Q8 is the most powerful and fastest SUV Audi has produced yet, with stats that will make your eyes bleed in disbelief. To put it in perspective, the brawny SUV can clear 0-100km/h in 3.8 seconds while running an electronically limited top speed of 250km/h. These are serious numbers we're talking about, especially considering that the beast from Ingolstadt weighs in at 2 315kg.
But performance is not all this SUV is about, and we made our way to Franschhoek to experience the vehicle in a setting befitting its presence.
In the vineyards
En route to Franschhoek, it became pretty clear that we would not have the 'clear skies' weather we were hoping for. Instead, the Boland town showed its other side by opening the heavens and sending down many litres of rain. So it might not have been the sunny weekend we were hoping for, but the town was as beautiful as ever.
A few kilometres outside of the town center, we make a left to Chevandeaux guest house. It's a beautiful place, offering accommodation for several guests wanting to unwind and unpack in this Wineland's town. Our ground floor apartment featured a fireplace, a fully equipped kitchen, and could sleep three (double bed and sleeper couch). With the rain coming down hard, we got a fire started while the electric blankets prepared the beds for the night.
It is an idyllic setting right under the mountains, but it's in the mornings, as the sun rises, that the estate shows its true colours.
It's a rainy affair
One of the plans for the Saturday was to film the Audi RS Q8 under the Franschhoek sun and go for a hike on one of the Pass' trails. Sadly, everything was compounded with the continuing rain. In fact, stopping at one of the small cafés for a coffee, the rain's intensity increased tenfold, and it became clear that we would get very little filming done.
Still, we tried and managed to get footage of the SUV. To think, just two days prior, we also photographed the RS Q8 in the area under bright skies, but it is an entirely different story just 48 hours later.
Yet, even in the atrocious conditions, the performance SUV showed a different side to its character. With the driving mode in Comfort, occupants are treated to a very compliant ride quality that will conjure a sense of serenity. It's almost unthinkable that a vehicle of this nature can be gentle yet could deliver the knockout punch when called upon. The Quattro all-wheel drive system also kept the vehicle in check, with the puddles of standing water on the famous Franschhoek Pass failing to unsettle the Audi.
While brutal in living up to its performance credentials, the Audi RS Q8 has proven that it can be more. It is what one could call a 'consummate companion'.
Price: R2 354 500
Engine: 4.0-litre V8, turbo petrol
Power: 441kW @ 6 000rpm
Torque: 800Nm @ 2 200-4 500rpm
Gears: Eight-speed automatic
Drive: All-wheel drive
0-100km/h: 3.8 seconds
Top speed: 250km/h (electronically limited)
Warranty: 1-year or unlimited km
Maintenance Plan: 5-years or 100 000km
Tyres: 295/35 R23
Weight: 2 315kg
Luggage Area: 605-1 755L