Bigger Guns: 2020 Audi SQ7 and SQ8 Arrive with 500-HP V-8s
Don't quite need the punch of an RS Q8? Meet these new S siblings.
Excuse us while we pretend to be Santa for a moment, but Audi was on our nice list last year for gifting American enthusiasts the 591-hp RS6 Avant superwagon—a long-awaited decision we wholeheartedly support. As cool as the RS6 is, we rather doubt many buyers outside of Audi's hardcore faithful will be lining up to drop more than $140,000 on one—everyone else will probably buy one of these all-new 2020 SQ7 or SQ8 performance SUVs, instead.
The newest SQ7 is the first to make to the U.S. market (the model isn't new, but wasn't previously sold here), while the SQ8 is the first-ever performance version of the first-ever Q8 crossover, the two-row, sexier version of the three-row Q7. Both SQs pack a 500-hp 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine. While, yes, that horsepower figure falls disappointingly short of the RS6's, the V-8's 568 lb-ft of torque at least sniffs near the 591 lb-ft you get in the mightier RS Q8. (In Audi's performance heirarchy, RS models are the top of the line, while S models sit just above their pedestrian A- or Q- badged counterparts.) Both the SQ7 and SQ8 use eight-speed automatic transmissions, and, you guessed it, Quattro all-wheel drive.
Audi says both crossovers will sprint to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds and can continue on their merry way until reaching their electronically limited 155-mph top speeds. Those are some pretty brisk numbers when you consider the Q7 and Q8 (the same SUVs in non-S guise) each tipped our scales at more than 5,000 pounds apiece.
Helping the big, porky rigs move like proper S cars is rear-wheel steering (the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction of the front ones to aid low-speed maneuverability and in the same direction as the fronts at higher velocities to increase stability) and an optional electromechanical active roll stabilization feature works to limit body roll during hard driving. The electronic brains inside the SQ7 and SQ8 can alter the standard 40/60 front-to-rear torque split by sending up to 80 percent of the power to the rear, and an available rear sport differential that enables side-to-side torque vectoring across the rear axle. If the RS Q8 is anything to go by, Audi's performance arm has a solid handle on getting large crossovers to drive as excitingly and capably as their lower, lighter non-SUV brethren.
In keeping with Audi's playbook for its S models, the SQ7 and SQ8 each feature subtle details such as sportier front bucket seats, silver-painted door mirrors, quad exhaust outlets, and standard 20-inch wheels on the SQ7 and 21-inchers on the SQ8. Visual wattage can be dialed up by way of a Black Optics black-painted exterior trim package, and one-inch-larger-diameter rims on either. There is no word on pricing yet, but an educated guess would land the SQ7 somewhere around the $72,000 mark and the SQ8 closer to the $90,000 mark these big, fast SUVs will hit showrooms in late spring 2020.