Biturbo V8 with 600 hp and more, weighing more than two tons: With the Audi RS Q8 and Mercedes-AMG GLE Coupé 63 S 4Matic+, two massive power SUVs meet in Hockenheim for a comparison test - with the aim of turning the world of sports cars upside down place.
Was Einstein wrong after all? He was probably just wrong. Because we are at a point where the laws of physics seem to be broken. The point at which power SUVs put almost two cubic meters of cargo space in relation to around 2.4 tons of mass and then bend the timeline by catapulting themselves to a hundred in under four seconds, only to then free themselves from gravity and inertia when cornering close.
Even if the physics professor in you rightly rebels: That's exactly what the Audi RS Q8 and Mercedes-AMG GLE Coupé 63 S 4Matic+ can do. Whereby the Ingolstadt makes the old Albert look pretty stupid from the well-known poster. Yes, one might think he would even stick his tongue out at him. But maybe that also applies to the competition? After all, the RS Q8 has just pulverized the factory sprint specification and the time we measured for the AMG by three tenths. Just a blink of an eye you mean? But at 3.5 seconds you are moving in the super sports car environment, and every tenth is a whole world, every second its own dimension, every ... (Editor's note: the readers understood what it's about)
Okay, but what the numbers don't convey: the casualness with which the RS Q8 pushes its 2398 kilograms live weight from zero to one hundred, storms further towards 200 km and suddenly gets tangled in the limiter at 250 km. As with the AMG, 280 km/h would also be possible as standard, optionally the Audi could even exceed 300 km/h. If, yes, if the corresponding tick had not been forgotten in the test car - not the only one, but we'll get to that in a moment. Because now the warning light Christmas tree is burning in the cockpit.
Audi RS Q8: Signs of failure
Was the stress on the components when accelerating too great? After all, a massive 800 Nm of torque is converted here: the fans snort wildly and turn to the stop while you read "transmission error" inside - apparently there was a lack of transmission oil, explains Audi after the test. But after the restart, the RS Q8 forgot the warning message again. The same applies to the power steering, which allows itself a break when driving off for the first few meters in the morning. The roll stabilization even smells danger when dancing the cones and gets out for a short time. An absurdity for an SUV that costs 141,500 euros with extras relevant to driving dynamics - that's why there is a point deduction in the B grade for quality impression.
But apart from the plastic shift paddles, which are an insult to the fingertips, there is little to complain about, which is typical for Audi: fine materials and a standard four-zone automatic air conditioning system take care of the occupants.They are enthroned on comfortable but not explicitly sporty leather armchairs, while acoustic glazing for 500 euros isolates them from the outside world. Doesn't sound sporty? Well, the digital cockpit has pulled a pinch of Lamborghini for 150 euros and stages the RS mode like a fighter jet. In fractions of a second, the bar on the speed display races towards the driver and escalates in green, yellow and red flashing animations – while the exhaust system at the rear emits a comparatively gentle bass.
Yes, the cross for the flap system was not set in Ingolstadt when configuring. Perhaps consciously: because that's how technocratic eight-cylinder sound fills the interior. It sounds familiar. Of course, because the basic engine (including belt starter generator) weighs around 230 kg and also works in the RS 6 and RS 7. In the RS Q8, however, it is inflated by larger turbochargers that rotate up to 180,000 times per minute. In addition, the engineers used other injectors, reinforced pistons and connecting rods, adjusted the crank drive and hung the engine on five actively switchable bearings instead of three fixed points as in the normal Q8.
Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S: Touch too much
A lot of effort, which the AMG squad also puts into it: the 253 kg V8 block of the 63 S model also rests on active bearings. The starter generator integrated into the transmission supports bench pressing with a maximum of 16 kW, but not when screaming for battle. Why should it, the 612 hp V8 can do that anyway: it bangs and growls with the 1666-euro flap system unmistakably like an AMG – this sound alone is a good reason to buy the 157,348-euro SUV.
For the stately price, AMG puts a few driving dynamics crosses as standard and packs everything that goes into the test car - that explains the price difference. In return, you get an SUV that is marginally worse equipped with a coupé-like roof line. You can feel it when loading through the hatchback-like flap with fixed parcel shelf and high loading sill. Thanks to the air suspension, this lowers at the push of a button. When you get into the rear, you have to duck your head. The backbenchers sit on well-formed seats, which, however, cannot - as in the practical Audi - be moved or adjusted in inclination. The best place is on the fully air-conditioned multi-contour seats, which cost 2190 euros.
Here the driver is once again offered "the best or nothing", i.e. plenty of carbon, leather and Alcantara. But the AMG-Benz overshoots the mark a little when it comes to operation. AMG adorns the digital instruments with its own layouts, which trigger flashing red eruptions at the rev limiter in manual mode.In addition, a comprehensive track app is installed in the infotainment system and small driving mode satellites are planted on the steering wheel: on the one hand, they awaken the play instinct, on the other hand, you constantly click and touch the modes in everyday life, while in the RS Q8 you press the RS button steering wheel is enough. Yes, in order to bring the 63 S into perfect balance, you would actually need a doctorate in driving dynamics. Because the AMG constantly challenges you: it wants to storm away every time you start. If you don't give in, 850 Nm often jerks through the drive train roughly.
In addition, the 63 S lets the occupants feel that it is an Affalterbacher. Because compared to the normal Mercedes GLE, AMG relies on a different air suspension (see box on the left). The 63 S with 22-inch mixed tires (595 euros) rolls tighter than the RS Q8. Although this mighty 23-inch rims (2650 euros) carries, the Audi floats noticeably more gently over wavy asphalt.
Audi: curve artist
But you already know all of this, almost expect it. That's why both are scratching the curve now. Contrary to what you might think, the RS Q8, with all-wheel steering as standard and optional roll stabilization and blessed with a sports differential (4850 euros), has become the cornering artist par excellence. Especially away from the Hockenheimring, on the narrow country roads, which seem undersized even for a small car, the colossus curves like a compact sports car. The roll stabilizers almost completely eliminate body roll, while the torque splitter makes the rear axle more agile and thus the steering behavior. In the rear-view mirror, one observes how the jacket flaps almost horizontally on the roof hook. This is the point at which the RS Q8 not only overturns the limits of physics, but also takes them completely ad absurdum. That may sound like an exaggeration - and yet it hardly does justice to what the SUV is capable of doing in terms of lateral dynamics. How practical that racing driver Frank Stippler stomped a lap time of 7.42 minutes into the – sometimes damp – asphalt of the Nordschleife with the RS Q8 to substantiate this claim.
AMG: Best of the rest?
It almost goes unnoticed that the GLE 63 S is also mutating into a curve eater. Of course, without a steering rear axle, it seems a bit less handy in the very tight corners, but it also likes to let the wide rear end hang out. Finally, the 4Matic+ all-wheel drive relies on an electronically controlled center differential. Although this differs from that of the AMG limos E, S and GT 63, since the front axle is not completely decoupled via drift mode, theoretically up to 100 percent flow to the rear wheels.
Objectively, it is on par with the Audi in terms of driving dynamics measurements, although you have to stretch a lot in both to avoid driving over the pylons due to the confusing dimensions.Speaking of which: With the GLE, this also happens every now and then with the front axle, because the steering, like in the Audi, requires very little steering effort, but breaks out more sharply from the central position and at the same time gives too little feedback. Even slight corrections at high speeds can result in unwanted lane changes.
,The GLE supports you on the Autobahn with the power of all its assistance systems: it keeps your distance, doesn't overtake on the right and cements the chunk safely in the middle of the lane. However, the control interventions are sometimes over-ambitious, especially since the normal lane departure warning system with braking interventions is unsettling. Criticism at a high level, which is appropriate here, however, since the Audi handles everything a bit more polished, even if not perfectly. Because the navigation software occasionally recognizes speed limits that don't even exist, accelerates and brakes the colossus so suddenly that the driver has to intervene.
The fully assisted Q8 also flies over the track at crazy speed, destroying kilometers as if in slow motion, oh what: warp speed. However, both SUVs burn so much fuel on the multi-lane that one fears that Greenpeace activists will abseil down the next bridge to stop them. To save our political honour, it should be mentioned that in everyday life 48-volt technology switches off the V8 engines during rolling phases, fuel-saving information pops up on the dashboard and half the cylinder power is enough at part load to ultimately achieve just over ten liters (ams Eco consumption) from A to come to B. A lot of effort, but at least on this point the physics cannot be completely tricked.
Good brakes, all good
Or is it? At least the AMG loses the comparison test in the last few meters - in the brake measurements. Although the test car carries the ceramic discs, which cost almost 5000 euros, together with the golden calipers, the GLE 63 S loses more than half a car length to the RS Q8 with steel brake system. Yes, Audi also removed the ceramic option from the test car. Nevertheless, the 2.4-tonner comes to a standstill again after 31.2 meters from a hundred - that's nothing less than super sports daring! And yes, we are curious to see how Einstein intends to put that into perspective.
The RS Q8 not only bends the timeline when accelerating and cornering, it also compresses it when braking. His drive train looks smoother in everyday life.
The GLE Coupé moves the tighter rear compartment with just as ample mass almost as dramatically as the AMG V8 sounds - after all, Einstein also researched hearing aids.