Audi Jamaica showed its connection to its performance past and electric future when it launched both the Audi RS Q8 and Q8 Sportback e-tron on Friday, September 29, at the Oxford Road showroom.
"I'm honoured... [and] humbled to be a part of this launch as Audi is able to provide, show, and introduce to Jamaica the best of both worlds — Audi's fastest production sport utility vehicle (SUV) ever and Audi's electric era," Damien Kerr, general manager, Oxford Road, told the Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine.
The RS Q8 represented not only the brand's long legacy in motorsports and the transfer of that technology to the road, but what could be the swansong for the high-performance internal combustion engine.
The RS badge, which stands for the German RennSport as literally translated to the English — Racing Sport, signifies the highest performance level of that model in the Audi line-up.
For the Q8, the RS modifications begin at the heart of the matter, endowing the SUV with 600bhp and 590lb/ft of torque courtesy a 4-litre Biturbo V8. Using launch control 60mph can be reached in 3.6 seconds.
As the company that revolutionised rallying, the chassis of the RS Q8 has not been ignored, boasting a more aggressive tuning of the iconic Quattro all-wheel drive system. It can now send up to 70 per cent of power to the front wheels and up to 85 per cent to the rear wheels for maximum control and traction under the most demanding of circumstances. For even more agility, there is all-wheel steering that turns the rear wheels up to 5° in the opposite direction of the front wheels, or up to 1.5° to match them. A sportier tuned adaptive air suspension makes sure the standard 22-inch wheels are in constant contact with whatever surface type is beneath it.
On the outside, the RS Q8 is easily recognised by the badging and the visual upgrades beginning with revised gloss black honeycomb version of the signature Audi singleframe grille. On either side are large air intakes. In the rear are the RS specific roof edge spoiler, rear apron, and oval tailpipes. Inside, things are more driver-focused than luxury-focused with a deliberately clean design. The leather sport seats have the RS logo embossed in them. Drivers can easily access the vehicle modes via the RS1 and RS2 buttons on the perforated leather flat-bottomed steering wheel.
Beneath all the performance elements are all the premium features and practicality that Q8 owners have come to expect.
"Audi has rebadged the e-tron, the one we introduced last year, as the Q8 e-tron. We also now have the Q8 Sportback e-tron, which is that car just a bit sexier, and that's what we've introduced tonight," Kerr said.
The Q8 Sportback e-tron doesn't shy away from speed despite its electric nature. Boasting two electric motors, for a modern interpretation of Quattro, it makes a combined 443bhp and 659lb/ft of torque.
"It has impressive range, tried, tested, and proven of up to 500 kilometres on a single charge," said Kerr.
It can handle 150 kWh Level 3 DC fast charging, recouping up to 80 per cent of range in approximately 31 minutes.
Audi's electric vehicles already have a variant of the company's design language for the singleframe grille in front and the rear. The Q8 Sportback e-tron follows that until the C-pillars.
Sportback, in Audi speak, means coupé or hatchback. Applied to the Q8 e-tron, it combines the spaciousness of an SUV with the elegant lines of a coupé by giving an aggressive slant to the rear roofline. There is precious little loss in rear passenger and cargo space as the e-tron has a front luggage compartment.
"We also will introduce in the very near future the Q6 e-tron, which is a tad bit smaller than the Q8 e-tron, and there is also a Q4 e-tron on the horizon. Audi is moving to make all even-numbered vehicle electric cars and all odd numbers internal combustion," explained Kerr.
He went on to further note that the Q8 e-tron is not only their best-selling electric vehicle (EV), but is one of the biggest selling EVs on the Jamaican market.