2023 Audi RS Q8: Review

I recently reviewed the incredible 2023 Audi RS 6 and concluded that it would be near the top of my “forever car” list. You know, that old daydream trope where someone offers you a free car, but you have keep it forever as your main car? So, when Audi asked if I wanted to have a go in the new RS Q8 with the same engine under the hood, I was like “uhhh yeah, yes I would”.

2023 Audi RS Q8 Overview

The RS Q8 rides on the Volkswagen Group MLB Evo platform which can also be found on the Q7 as well as the Bentley Bentayga, Lamborghini Urus, Porsche Cayenne, and Volkswagen’s own Touareg. One last bit of trivia, the RS Q8 is built in Bratislava, which is in Slovakia. Fascinating. Like most RS models you get only one (quite-well-equipped) trim level, in this case it is starting at $125,800 for 2024 (the only screenshot I could get). That’s up a bit from our test car’s $122,800 starting price.

There is no shortage of standard stuff on the RS Q8, as you would expect with such a high MSRP. Some of my favorites are laid out below. Standard performance highlights include:

  • Twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 with 591 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque
  • 22-inch wheels
  • Performance brakes
  • Sport-tuned adaptive air suspension
  • Four-wheel steering

It has lots of comfort and convenience stuff too including:

  • Leather upholstery with fun RS stitching
  • Heated and ventilated front seats
  • Rear window sunshades
  • Multicolor ambient cabin lighting
  • Heated, power side mirrors
  • Four-zone automatic climate control
  • Power and heated steering wheel

Standard technology and safety aids are included as well like:

  • Dual 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment displays
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration
  • Bang & Olufsen premium sound system
  • Wireless smartphone charger
  • Forward collision mitigation
  • Blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic warning
  • Rear passenger safe-exit system

Naturally our tester didn’t just come with the standard stuff. Audi ticked all kinds of boxes including Dragon Orange paint ($595), although every color is $595 (at least for 2024). You can read the rest for yourself, but the options add up to $16,460. I was going to say that you could buy a new car for that much, but you can’t. The Nissan Versa has a starting price of $17,245. It was almost a fun comparison, but alas not. I’ll note that I am a sucker for massaging seats, moving on.

2023 Audi RS Q8 Inside & Out

You won’t have to worry about getting your RS Q8 lost in a parking lot, at least with the blisteringly bright orange paint. My youngest (MK3) plays for the Washington Capitals Hockey Academy and it looked right at home in and around the pro-players parking at their practice facility. I love the look of the RS Q8, it’s somehow outrageous and subdued at the same time. I do wonder if the design would be a little less interesting in a dull color. Kind of in the same way that the RS 6 looked good in black, but amazing in bright blue. If you need me to help you spec your RS car, hit me up.

I clearly was so enthralled with the exterior of the RS Q8 that I managed to forget to take very few pictures of the amazing interior. So, here are a couple from the Audi Media Center.

I did however make a ton of notes about the interior experience during my week-long loan though, so have no fear! As you’d imagine it’s massively comfortable. The ergonomics are solid, I especially like where the shifter handle sits. It forms a perfect alignment across to the armrest so you can rest both your elbow and your hand comfortably. I also enjoyed the design of the dash, almost looks like a big control panel for some sort of plane or ship with the dual screen setup.

Speaking of screens, if you’re going to replace physical buttons with a screen, this is the way to do it. Even though they aren’t many physical buttons, you can have all of the HVAC controls consistently there and available at the bottom of the lower screen without having to pick your way through a menu system. There is an actual volume button, but it’s over on the far right and a bit hard to reach. However, I really dig the little dial to ratchet up volume without taking your hand off the wheel. It’s way better than tapping on a button when your jam comes on the nearly $5,000 upgraded B&O stereo.

My oldest noted the “10/10 water bottle storage” up front in the door panels and I promised I would add it to the review. So there it is, insights from a 19 year old (MK1).

You can find a more practical SUV, but if you don’t need anything more than 30.5 cu.ft. of cargo space (60.7 cu.ft. with the rear seats down) than it’ll do you just fine. It will easily fit a small arsenal of Nerf guns, if you find yourself in that position. Plus, it’s a small detail, and I’m sure it cost extra (likely that Audi Guard Protection Kit for $365), but I loved the grippy rubber mat in the trunk, it means groceries don’t slide around as easily.

Rear seat room is quite good, with 40.2 inches of space for your legs. So, the RS Q8 isn’t going to replace your three-row family hauler, but if you just need room for five and a crackin amazing engine, check it out.

2023 Audi RS Q8 On the Road

Speaking of that engine, it’s time to get this thing out on the highway and stretch its legs. The RS Q8 took me home for Thanksgiving day, a 2.5 hour drive on mercifully empty highways. Between the adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assistance, and the massaging seats, it is a fantastic long distance road trip vehicle.

Watch your speed though, I had to really stay light on the go pedal to keep it under 80 mph. And in a bright orange six-figure car, I figured it might be a target for the laser gun. It’s blisteringly quick, sixty mph arrives in just 3.2 seconds. That’s faster than my F Type R which has a bit less power (550 hp) but weighs a staggering 1,676 pounds less. So in the Audi, I played it safe and turned on the cruise control for the Thanksgiving drive. You can give it a firm push up or down and it will jump five mph either direction, or you can give it a light to click and it will go one mph.

Criticisms were minimal, but they exist so I’ll lay them out quickly below for journalism.

  • No matter what view I put it in, or what driving setting it was in, I couldn’t seem to get it to show me which side the gas tank is on when filling up. Likely something you would get used to as an owner, but driving a different car each week, I rely on that little arrow.
  • The lane keeping assist will occasionally misjudge a painted line on the highway and jerk the wheel a little bit.
  • The parking centers are a bit annoying and stop and go traffic. If things weren’t bad enough driving through DC in the pouring rain it kept ringing an alarm at me when I was near the car in front of me, which happened every time I stopped. You can turn it off, but then it turns itself right back on.
  • A taller than 6’2” person might have issues with the fixed headrest up front (according MK1 offspring).
  • The reverse lights aren’t very bright, only when I hit my brakes could I really see where I was going. The back up camera gets covered in water pretty easily when it’s raining, and those two things combined makes it hard to back up effectively.


The 2023 RS Q8 is a bit of a Swiss Army knife, you can put it in RS mode and go very fast, you can put in comfort mode for a highway cruise, or you can even raise it up for bad weather. With all the rain we had, I am glad they put non-summer tires back on it. Plus, the elephant in the room is the Lamborghini Urus, which I’ve also tested. The RS Q8 is built on the same platform, has the same basic twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 (though it makes 657 horsepower in the Lambo) and costs more than $100,000 less. That’s a staggering figure, though having driven both, the Urus makes much better noises and is a more interesting experience. However, I bet there is some sort of high end tuning and exhaust upgrade for the RS Q8 just as much fun.

Still, in the end, I’d have the Audi RS 6. It’s got a slightly lower starting MSRP (though my tester had all the options) and looks better in my opinion. Still, if you’re shopping for a fun high-performance SUV, the RS Q8 is pretty epic.

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2 responses to “2023 Audi RS Q8: Review”

  1. Zentropy Avatar

    Nothing with only two pedals is going on my “forever list”. That engine is divine, the overall design is nice, and the orange paint is killer, but I quit reading after “automatic”. Power and speed mean little to me without control of the gears, and then only with a proper clutch. Tipronic doesn’t quite make the grade for driver involvement.

  2. Sjalabais Avatar

    The colour is amazing, but a fixed headrest? I understand that Audis are supposed to do the crashing and not be crashed into, especially in signal orange, but a properly adjusted headrest offers more than just a comfy spot to put your brains. It’s an odd choice.