- Massively quick
- Refined cabin
- Improved fuel economy
- Discounted models hard to find
- Not as sharp as some rivals
Four-wheel drive, 513bhp, 650Nm and a 0-62mph time of 4.1 seconds; if ever there was a car defined by its numbers the Audi S8 is it. Now well into its third generation, the original being launched back in 1996, Audi is an old hand at producing understated super saloons.
That’s not to say the S8 has it all its own way – the luxury executive segment has never been harder fought. Up against the Mercedes S63 AMG, Maserati Quattroporte, Porsche Panamera and Land Rover’s Range Rover Sport there’s now more choice than ever where to splash your not inconsiderable cash.
For many the understated looks of the S8 will mean it falls short in their estimations, though for every nay-sayer there’ll be another who revels in the subtleties of the Audi’s design. Only the 20-inch alloys, slight side skirt and bumper extensions plus the aluminium mirror housings give the game away.
It’s the same inside, where top quality materials and a slick finish ensure it feels as hi-tech and luxurious as its pricetag suggests. Don’t think the S8 is all about the driver either – the rear seats are an equally enthralling place to be and there’s few faster places to sit on the road.
Performance and efficiency
At the end of the day the S8 is a two ton saloon, and any thoughts that it’ll handle like a lightweight sportscar go out the window at the first corner. It’ll hang on longer than any of its mostly rear-wheel drive competitors will and the quattro system endows it with far more grip and capability than most would dare to explore on the public road.
But it’s not just about blistering performance with the S8, this is an Audi with a social conscience too. Standard fit stop start helps lower the emissions but for 2013 the addition of a cylinder on demand system is what makes the real difference. By shutting off four of the V8’s cylinders at low throttle loads the CO2 output drops to a reasonable 225g/km, and claimed average economy is as high as 29.4mpg – even if you’re not likely to see that figure in the real world.
Along with that clever cylinder on demand system the S8 received the same number of updates as the regular A8 at the tail end of 2013. That means it has a redesigned nose, with a subtly different bonnet and sharper lights front and rear.
It also gained a host of new tech, including Audi’s MatrixBeam LED headlights; not only do these have an auto high beam system but an adaptive light output too. This mechanism-free unit uses up to 25 individually controllable elements to mask out oncoming traffic and bend its high-beam light around them, meaning S8 drivers can see more of the road more of the time and other users aren’t blinded in the process.
Read on for our full Audi S8 review.