This is it, the crème de la crème of Audi SUVs. Meet the first ever Audi RS Q8 – Audi says the RS Q8 is its first SUV to break the four-second barrier in the 0-100 km/h sprint, and it’s all thanks to the 4.0 litre bi-turbo V8 petrol engine, tuned to dish out a brutal 600 PS and 800 Nm of torque.

Those figures are only 50 PS and 50 Nm shy of the Lamborghini Urus‘ output, although the move may be a deliberate one so as to not outshine the Sant’Agata beast. No matter, because the RS Q8 is no slouch by any standards. Power is routed to all four wheels (quattro) through an eight-speed conventional automatic gearbox. The 0-100 km/h sprint time is done in 3.8 seconds, and 0-200 km/h in 13.7 seconds (3.6 seconds and 12.8 seconds respectively for the Urus). Top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h.

As with the other RS stablemates, the V8 engine here is augmented with a 48 volt mild-hybrid system which features a belt alternator-starter that’s connected to the crankshaft. This helps recover up to 12 kW of power during deceleration and braking, storing the energy in a compact lithium-ion battery. The system also enables coasting for up to 40 seconds with the engine shut off, which helps reduce fuel consumption by up to 0.8 litres per 100 km in everyday driving.

To further improve fuel efficiency, the engine features Audi’s cylinder on demand (COD) system. At low engine loads, cylinders 2, 3, 5 and 8 are shut off, essentially turning it into a four-cylinder engine. When required, the “dormant” cylinders are reactivated immediately and virtually imperceptibly when the driver presses the accelerator.

A mechanical centre locking differential splits drive to a 40:60 ratio, so in most situations the RS Q8 is rear-biased. However, when slip is detected, up to 70% of power can be directed to the front wheels, and up to 85% to the rear wheels. A quattro sport differential is also fitted as standard, distributing torque (active torque vectoring) between the two rear wheels when required.

The raging SUV gets RS-specific adaptive air suspension sport with controlled dampers as standard, which raises or lowers ride height by up to 90 mm. All-wheel steering is also standard. At low speeds, the rear wheels turn by up to five degrees in the direction opposing the front, improving manoeuvrability and turning radius. At higher speeds, the rear wheels turn up to 1.5 degrees in the same direction as the front wheels, which virtually “shortens” the wheelbase for better stability during fast lane changes. An electromechanical active roll stabilisation system, which minimises body roll during fast cornering, is optional.

Drivers get to call on eight drive modes: comfort, auto, dynamic, efficiency, allroad, off-road, and the customisable RS1 and RS2 modes. The last two modes can be quickly accessed through the RS-Mode button on the steering wheel. Of course, each drive mode alters engine and transmission mapping, as well as steering boost, dampers, engine sound, and even the characteristic of the climate control.

Now, for design, it gets RS-specific kit such as the gloss black Singleframe grille with honeycomb insert, aggressive front bumper with massive side intakes and integrated lower lip, tinted Matrix LED headlights, RS rear spoiler (functional, adds downforce), rear skirting with diffuser clip, and the hallmark RS twin oval tailpipes. Nine exterior colours are offered, including this gorgeous Java Green metallic.

It sits on huge 22-inch aluminium wheels in a 10-spoke fashion, shod with 295/40 profile tyres – the largest ever factory-installed tyres on an Audi production model. If that’s not big enough for you, there’s a 23-inch cast aluminium Y-spoke wheels finished in diamond-turned anthracite black. Stopping power comes from internally vented composite discs (420 mm up front, 370 mm at the rear), clamped by 10-inch piston calipers that can be painted red if you so desire.

Inside, things are as practical as the standard Q8, but far more sporty-looking. The headlining is black Alcantara, and the centre console gets a new Aluminum Spectrum trim. The Audi virtual cockpit gets a special RS display, offering info such as tyre pressure, temperature, lap times, and g-forces. A shift light display helps with upshifting, and a head-up display also comes with RS-specific graphics.

The RS sport seats are wrapped in luxurious Valcona leather with honeycomb pattern, and they come with RS embossment as standard. Opt for the RS design package and you’ll get red or grey contrast stitching on the knee pads, steering wheel rim, floor mats, shift knob, and seat belt edges. Lastly, the RS Q8 comes with over 30 driver assist systems such as adaptive cruise assist, efficiency assist, intersection assist, lane change warning and 360 degree surround view camera. So, what do you think? Hot, or not?