The S8's potent-sounding 5.2-litre V10 engine is related to that in the Lamborghini Gallardo, although at 450bhp, it's not quite as powerful. It is unlikely S8 owners will be left wanting more however, for like all A8s it's built from aluminium, making it lighter than most rivals and very quick as a result, hitting 60mph in 5.1 seconds. The advantage of four-wheel drive ensures its performance is accessible, even in wet or slippery conditions, where two-wheel drive rivals would struggle for grip.
The gearbox is a six-speed automatic with a fast-changing Sport mode and steering wheel-mounted paddles for manual control of gear changes.
The S8's suspension is 20mm lower than the standard car and as a result the ride is noticeably firmer. However the car has a clever system which automatically adjusts the ride height and response to bumps in order to provide a balance between comfort and handling. On twisting routes the quattro four-wheel drive system not only helps transfer power to the road, it also makes it more stable when cornering and provides superb traction out of bends.
Being lighter than rivals from BMW and Mercedes makes the S8 more agile but it is still a big, heavy car which is evident if you try and change direction quickly or when braking hard.