Is there anything the S8 doesn’t do supremely well – no.
As much an automotive experience as a luxury, performance vehicle, the new Audi S8 is simply without peer.
28 August, 2020
If you were to assign a human persona to a car, the Audi S8 would undoubtedly be the strong, silent type. The quintessential hero who arrives in town without fanfare, but has that aura about them that they’re capable of anything. The well-dressed, quietly-spoken stranger you just know is more than up to taking care of any situation.
Good looking, in an understated way, but with enough attitude to catch the eye. Lean and in great shape, but not overblown. Elegant and refined but with an obvious edge.
No surprises then that the Audi S8 has had more than its fair share of appearances in films where it mirrors those very characteristics of the central character. Always someone with a unique set of enviable skills and an obvious flair that sets them apart, but without crying it from the rooftops.
Exciting and edgy as required, or as refined as it gets in the upper echelons of the luxury automotive classes, the S8 sits atop Audi’s impressive range of luxury sedans. It is the benchmark Audi A8 taken a step or two further to arrive at a highly specialised luxury performance sedan that simply does it all.
To call the Audi S8 a streeted fighter in a good suit just wouldn’t do it justice. Marrying incredible performance – 0 to 100km/h in 3.8 seconds – with the highest standards of luxury finish and automotive technology, make for a vehicle that is more a gold medal athlete in a Brioni suit. The S8 is at once the ultimate luxury limousine, boasting not just state-of-the-art technology but a finish that takes even Audi’s reputation for superb interiors to new heights. But it is also an incredible performance sedan, boasting the most tremendous levels of acceleration, balance and handling that are almost at odds with its generous size and luxurious appointment.
To call the Audi S8 a streeted fighter in a good suit just wouldn’t do it justice
The S8 is so much more than the sum of its parts, but even in isolation, each facet of this extraordinary car is impressive
The S8 is so much more than the sum of its parts, but even in isolation, each facet of this extraordinary car is impressive. In terms of its design, even to those who don’t know their cars, it is elegant and exudes a strength and presence even sitting parked. There’s something about the S8, even though the design does not cry out for attention. Subtle and sophisticated without a doubt with a certain indefinable quality as well.
There is that large front grille with the silver surround and the telltale blue inserts in the HD Matrix LED headlights that tell you this car has Audi laser light, and of course the quad exhausts with the big oval tailpipes. Obvious Audi S styling.
Likewise the aluminium wing mirror treatment and massive 21-inch alloy wheels with huge ventilated discs and 10-piston callipers are giveaways that this isn’t just a luxury conveyance.
Press the starter button on the elegantly appointed dash, and the low growl of the twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 elicits a shot of expectant adrenalin and tends to get those standing nearby to look up and take notice.
It doesn’t really matter to onlookers that the 4.0-litre TFSI V8 burbling away generates 420kW of power and an absolutely massive 800Nm of torque from 2000rpm. It just sounds cool and frankly a little ominous, but it will matter to you when you decide to attack a twisty road or have need to leave pretty much anything behind quickly – think overtaking. Power is practically instantaneous and the aural accompaniment is yet another pleasure to associate with the S8.
With its eight-speed tiptronic transmission and quattro all-wheel drive, grip and handling are of the highest order and with the ability to push up to 85 percent of engine torque to the rear wheels, the sporting feel of the S8 is again beyond the realm of most sports cars – never mind top-shelf luxury vehicles.
The suspension though, takes things to a completely new level – literally. With its predictive active suspension technology which is offered for the first time in the Audi S8, coupled with the air suspension with infinitely variable damping, your perceptions of what a car can do will be forever changed, and in a good way.
Open the door and the S8 raises subtly 50mm to make it easier for your and your passengers to enter. Considerate and ingenious.
But this is far from a novelty but rather the start of a completely addictive experience that sees potholes and road imperfections effectively ironed out by a suspension system that is constantly ‘watching the road ahead’ via cameras and monitors, and adjusting the suspension for a ride that is silky smooth. This limo-like ride can be dialled up to ‘hard and fast’ as the mood grabs you via the Audi Drive select, but in terms of pure comfort and clever technology, it is absolutely state-of-the-art.
Not just that, but this technology allows the S8 to raise its flanks up to 80mm should it detect an imminent side impact so that the force of impact is taken by the car’s strong sub-frame and diverted away from passengers.
Open the door and the S8 raises subtly 50mm to make it easier for your and your passengers to enter
The luxurious cabin finish takes Audi’s already enviable reputation for interiors to new heights
Indeed this is a car that is constantly looking out for you and ensuring the very best of driving experiences whether you’re behind the wheel or a passenger. The myriad safety systems go without saying, with everything from adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist and active lane assist as well as collision avoidance and turn assist all part of the extensive safety arsenal. The S8 also features a front centre airbag as part of its extensive offering, amidst one of the most comprehensive safety line-ups available.
That the S8 can cruise the boulevards with the best or turn the countryside into a blur in seconds is just one of its many skills. At any speed the S8 is an automotive centre for excellence. From the valcona leather upholstery to the inlays in brushed aluminium or carbon vector, the luxurious cabin finish takes Audi’s already enviable reputation for interiors to new heights. The front seats feature ventilation, massage function and heating in three stages, while the dual touch screens and Audi virtual cockpit integrate the most up-to-date technology for maximum convenience and aesthetic effect.
As a driver, the multi-function wheel, voice command and head-up display make for an environment where you can just concentrate on the task at hand and enjoy exploring the massive capabilities of this car. Audi connect plus means that the S8 is connected to the outside world to provide an enormous array of functions to assist both driver and passengers, from hospitality to safety functions.
Also as a passenger, the air quality package that includes bespoke Audi fragrances and the LED colour interior lighting package create an interior that happily seems a world away from the every day.
Those in the back seats also have every reason to settle in and enjoy the ride, with multi-adjustable seating, LED reading lights that can be directed right on to the page of the book or document you’re reading, retractible sunscreens (in addition to the privacy glass) and a rear retractible screen, all designed to maximise comfort. These myriad functions, as well as numerous others can be controlled by the rear seat controller – a removable tablet device that puts all manner of comfort functions in the palm of your hand.
Of course no car of this calibre would be complete without a sublime sound system, and the Bang & Olufsen 3D system with 730 watts and 17 speakers is a fitting accompaniment for the Audi S8.
In addition to its unbelievable sound though, the S8 also features several strategically placed microphones throughout the cabin that monitor intrusive external noise and generate an opposing frequency to effectively cancel out those unwanted sounds. In essence a noise cancelling interior – and who doesn’t want to cancel out the incessant noise of the outside world?
To list all of the attributes of the Audi S8 would take an inordinate amount of time and thousands of words, such is the depth of its offering. As a driver’s car it ticks every box, from grin-inducing acceleration, to handling that logic tells you just shouldn’t be possible for a large luxury car.
As a passenger, the S8 represents the epitome of luxury travel, an absolutely beautifully finished and equipped luxury conveyance worthy of any head-of-state – but one that’s capable of race car performance with just the push of the loud pedal.
For driver and passenger, the S8 is just one of the rare cars that delivers in every possible facet. That it does so it without broadcasting to the world is another admirable achievement amidst a veritable sea of impressive technology and performance. Score another one to the strong silent stranger.
In essence the S8 features a noise cancelling interior – and who doesn’t want to cancel out the incessant noise of the outside world?
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