According to British publication Autocar, the Audi Sport division is developing a potent RS version of the freshly launched Q8 that will borrow the hyperbolic petrol-electric drivetrain from Porsche’s Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid, donating more power than any road-going Audi has packed to date.
With a turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 coupled to an electric motor, the rumoured RS Q8 will deliver in the region of 500kW and 850Nm, which trumps the R8 V10 Plus’ best efforts by 51kW and 290Nm, and comes close to the company’s current torque champ, the 900Nm V8 turbo diesel of the SQ7.
Audi is yet to confirm any official details regarding an RS Q8, but the company has previously indicated it will expand the Audi Sport family beyond the current range of S, RS and R8 models. An RS Q8 would be only the second RS-badged SUV, following in the (narrower) tracks of the RSQ3.
A prototype Q8 has been spotted in testing with camouflage cladding disguising its bumpers, though the underlying surfacing appears to resemble the RS Q8 concept revealed last year. A set of large-bore twin oval tailpipes are another classic RS family fingerprint.
In the super SUV arena, a 500kW club-swinging Audi would cause headaches for all the key players including the 478kW Lamborghini Urus, Bentley’s 447kW Bentayga and the 430kW GLE63 from Mercedes-AMG, but with a plug-in powertrain it will likely dominate in the efficiency stakes as well.
Speaking of efficiency, until Ferrari and Aston Martin show their SUV hand, the only contender that will be able to touch the RS Q8 for power will be the 522kW 868Nm Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, which returns an average of 16.8 litres per 100km.
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When under the shell of the Porsche, the twin-turbo-electric combo can shoot the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid to 100km/h in just 3.4 seconds and uses a virtually teetotal 2.9 litres per 100km. Exact figures for an Audi interpretation are unlikely to deviate greatly unless the Stuttgart engineers make significant modifications.
The reports follow separate spy shots of a supposed SQ8, which has rolled out in public wearing no disguise at all. Like the RS Q8, details are thin on the ground, but the SQ8 is likely to get a pumped version of the 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 that’s under the bonnet of the S4 and RS4, leaving V8 power to be exclusive to its RS sibling.
Another possibility is a high-performance diesel SQ8, following the trend set by the original SQ5, which was only available in Australia with a V6 diesel before transitioning to turbo petrol V6 power.