It’s here! The Audi RSQ8, Audi’s entry into the ever-so-fierce category of fast SUVs. Highlight on the word fast because the adjective fast in front of the word SUV here is an understatement. So much so that these SUVs are now dubbed as ‘Super-SUVs’. The RSQ8 joins the likes of the Lamborghini Urus, Bentley Bentayga Speed, Porsche Cayenne Turbo, BMW X6M, Maserati Levante Super Trofeo and the Mercedes G63 AMG.
Let me give you a quick classroom lesson on what exactly is a Super SUV.
The first term here - Super indicates the vehicle in question is both really fast and quick, terms most commonly associated with exotic supercars. The second term - SUV ( Sports Utility Vehicle) implies it is a tall and large vehicle which is primarily designed to tackle off-road trails and smash desert dunes. Combine them both and Voila, you get a Super SUV. But I should stress the fact these Super SUVs tilt towards the term Super more than the latter bit.
Case in point, Audi have finally launched it into the Indian shores. This vehicle fits the bill of a premium high-performance SUV that most Indians are now paranoid about. For starters, it looks the part. While looks are subjective, I think I stand with the larger crowd of people who agree the RSQ8 looks handsome. Big grilles when executed well really do command a presence ( Note down a point or two, BMW). Its front facia has a move-aside-tiny-hatchbacks aggression to it and before you hear the numbers, you’ll know its very powerful just by having a glance. The roofline starts to warp down to give a coupe silhouette which compliments the proportions and the rear is neat. It has enough bling to grab some eyes as you cruise down Carter road but manages to stay below the line of excessiveness.
But what if you want to something beyond a simple city cruise? That duty can be easily carried out by the powerplant under the hood, a 4.0-litre TFSI V8 that produces an effortless 600 hp and 800 Nm of torque which is 400 hp more than what you will use in your occasional driving. This is the same unit powering the RSQ8’s siblings from Porsche and Lamborghini. However before you start assuming, no, the Urus with 650 hp and 50 more torques is still faster than the RSQ8, a trend we’ve seen with the R8 and the Huracan. But I bet even after you drive them back to back, I don’t think you’ll find a deal-breaking difference. The engine is mated to an 8-speed torque converter gearbox. Along with the hardware, some software trickery with its long list of drive modes such as Auto, Comfort, Dynamic, Efficiency (LOL), All-road, and even an off-road mode (LOL again), you can decide how you want to exploit all that power.
Let me explain the addition of the LOLs. To start with, efficiency mode in a vehicle that has a 4.0 V8 is a gimmick more than a function. Second, Off-road mode, in a car that comes standard with 22-inch wheel (and optional 23-inch wheels). I had a good laugh when I wrote that. I am in no means denying the capability of the vehicle, no sir. With its trick Quattro all-wheel-drive system, assists like Hill descent control and the gimmicks in the off-road mode, I’m sure it can pull-off some off-road acrobatics but the demographic of the people buying the RSQ8 aren’t the type of people who would want to soil their Balenciagas. This car is all about the colossal performance it offers on a free stretch of road. 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds, 0-124mph in 13.7 seconds, and a limited top speed of 155mph are mammoth numbers, even for a sports car. And this is reflected by Audi’s marketing for this car.
Audi is proud of the fact that the RSQ8 is the fastest SUV around the Nurburgring with a 7:42.25 lap time. This is one of the most irrelevant stats I’ve ever come across. SUV and lap records are terms that have no relation, words that shouldn’t be said in the same sentence. And to imagine a customer enthusiastic about taking this 1.7-metre tall mammoth around a racetrack just adds to my humour I’ve been enjoying since the beginning of this article. Claiming the RSQ8 as the fastest SUV around the Nurburgring is saying “I have a fork that is designed to slurp soup”. But maybe this is just me, maybe it comes down to what I feel. And if the analytics are something to go by, none of the people who buy one of these goliaths will care about what I opinionate. Lamborghini has sold more than 5000 Urus-es (or is it called Uri?) and it continues to be the company’s best selling vehicle currently. If you are a famous rapper/athlete and you don’t own a blacked-out G63, its most certainly a bombshell. These are clear cut shreds of evidence proving my perspective was wrong. So I changed my perspective.
Let’s go back to the Nurburgring stat I mentioned earlier. 7:42.25 is a very fast lap time and to give some context, that is faster than a 981 Cayman GT4, the Porsche Taycan and 2 seconds off the times of a Ferrari 430 Scuderia and a Bugatti Veyron 16.4. All this pace while weighing 2.5 tonnes. Imagine how much stress those tyres must be carrying, the amount of stress the dampers face while limiting the body roll of this 4-wheeled St.Joseph’s cathedral. The engineering that goes into making something like this turn through those corners should be given no less credit than the work that went into launching the Apollo 13 space shuttle. This Audi RSQ8 is a rebel, much like its colleagues from its Super SUV class. These vehicles do not adhere to the traditional SUV conformity. They are trying to be something they aren’t and truth be told, they aren’t doing a bad job at it. There’s something about a ruthless and humongous SUV like this, doing unfathomable speeds that make people feel invincible. And according to the popularity demographic I brought up earlier, there is clearly a market for it. If I were to buy a Super SUV (God forbid that day never comes) and the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrofoglio wasn’t a thing, I would go ahead and buy the RSQ8. Good looks, gravity-defying dynamics and enough grunt to dredge out water in the driest of places; It ticks all the boxes of a Super SUV. All this grunt will cost you a dear 2.08 crores (Ex-showroom Delhi). So to summarise, The Audi RSQ8 is Hulk trying to shoot with Hawkeye’s bow and arrow. If you get it, you get it.
(PS- Unless you really want the SUV silhouette and you need the space, practicality, performance of the RSQ8, get the RS6 Avant. You’ll not only help yourself but you’ll do the world a favour. Its 100 times prettier and it’ll make you 100 times cooler. Be wise, get an RS6. #savethewagons)