- Beautifully refined powerhouse of a car
- Agile handling and comfortable on long journeys
- Packed with high-end technology
- Visibility is poor through the narrow, sloping rear window
- Quite a lot of glare from the shiny, piano black dashboard, door inserts and central console
- Watch that fuel gauge drop
If you have the money and desire for a vehicle with supercar capability combined with limousine-style comfort, then the all-new fourth generation Audi S8 could be the ideal solution.
Available in S8 quattro, S8 Black Edition quattro and S8 Vorsprung quattro, the four-door saloon boasts new engine technology that features electrification for the first time, an improved suspension set-up and all the latest technology available from the German carmaker.
On top of that, the S8 is drop dead gorgeous in its design and guaranteed to turn heads as it powers by.
It’s not cheap, but few things of this quality ever are.
On The Road
Powering the latest Audi S8 is a revised V8 twin-turbo 4.0-litre TFSI engine with cylinder-on-demand technology and, for the first time, a mild hybrid system that introduces a 48-volt motor to the set-up.
With a beautifully-timed and newly recalibrated eight-speed automatic gearbox, along with paddles for extra driver engagement, and perfectly weighted steering, Audi seems to have got the mix between luxurious elegance and supercar sportiness bang on.
Our entry-level S8 model could power from 0-62mph in just 3.8 seconds – not bad for a car weighing more than two tonnes. And with its 571PS and 800Nm of torque, it had a top speed that is electronically-limited to 155mph.
The quattro all-wheel drive system ensures dynamic handling at all times with maximum traction into tight bends. And there is a sport differential with a S-specific tuning that varies the amount of torque sent to each individual wheel for added traction.
The acceleration out the starting blocks is unrelenting and you actually feel your head being pinned back against the headrest at full throttle. The reactions are instant and it’s a car that, despite its size, oozes confidence on twisting country lanes. Yet when a calmer driving experience is needed, switch across to Comfort+ and everything gets much more refined. It’s like the world is turning at a slower pace.
For such a large car, it’s hard not to be impressed by the S8’s handling ability when unleashed on the open road. It reaches the national speed limit on motorways in the blink of an eye, and will happily cruise along for miles on end.
Then when faced with the twisting B roads, the S8 demonstrates its more adventurous side with blistering pace and confident grip through tighter bends. It’s low centre of gravity means the car is perfectly poised through corners and the steering offers generous amounts of feel and feedback.
But, the S8 has another side too because it is deceptively nimble in busier city centre settings, although you will need an extra-large parking bay.
The various drive modes called Efficiency, Auto, Dynamic, Comfort+ and Individual are altered via the drive select control and this adjusts the steering assistance, suspension, engine and transmission management.
It means the S8 can be driven in a most refined manner with a cushioned ride quality in Comfort+ and then develops a ruthless attitude in Dynamic mode.
The Dynamic All-Wheel Steering System provides direct steering feedback, improved stability at pace and even a reduced turning circle.
And, with its Predictive Active Suspension, the ride quality is guaranteed. Using a number of sensors, including a camera, to adapt to bumps and dips in the road surface, the suspension automatically adjusts to increase comfort and improve the driving dynamics.
The fourth generation Audi S8 is definitely a car that demands attention, but not in a garish manner. It boasts all the elegance of the A8 with the added sportiness of an Audi S model, but it’s not so dynamic in its design as the supercar R8.
Stretching 5.17 metres in length, the S8 boasts limousine-like proportions and its sweeping lines and curves make it an instant hit. Factor in the distinctive grille, privacy glass, smart alloy wheels and soft-close doors and the S8 oozes executive charm and class.
There are HD Matrix LED headlights with Audi laser lights, along with Audi high beam for superb night time driving and the folding mirrors can be heated and feature a kerb side function for the passenger side so alloys don’t get scuffed when parking.
Moving inside, the S8 is beautifully refined, incorporating the very finest red Valcona leather upholstered seats that are power-operated and offer ultimate comfort and support on long trips. They can be heated to fend off the winter chill too. The fine Nappa leather extends to the centre console, armrests in the doors and airbag cover on the steering wheel.
The controls on the touchscreens offer haptic feedback which is classy and there is an array of techno treats to explore. There is also an LED interior lighting pack with colours changing according to the driving mode selected.
Even the windscreen has acoustic glazing for added refinement. In fact, it would be fair to say the S8 has one of the best interior designs around today.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
Finding the perfect driving position behind the wheel of the Audi S8 could not be simpler with seats that are power-adjustable, along with the steering wheel and there are memory settings to store your favourite position.
It’s worth taking a minute or two to take in the elegance and sophistication of the cabin with the finest leather upholstery and a wealth of technology at your fingertips.
There is a pitch perfect 17-speaker Bang & Olufsen premium sound system Audi Music Interface with Audi Connect that comes with a three-year subscription to Amazon Alexa, Audi Phone Box with wireless charging and a smartphone interface with Audi safety connect and e-call for emergencies.
The controls are neatly laid out with a 10.1-inch high-resolution display screen where features such as navigation are accessed. There is a separate 8.6-inch screen for all the climate control functions and the Audi Virtual Cockpit screen behind the steering wheel can be personalised to preference.
The tech levels are exceptionally generous but everything is driver focused and many functions can be operated by voice control meaning there is minimal distraction from the road ahead.
The all-round visibility is good although the dynamic design of the car, with its tapered off rear end, does result in quite a narrow rear window.
Whether you are driving the S8 or sitting in the back, it’s a superb all-round experience. And even at higher speeds, the car is so refined and effectively insulated, you barely notice any noise intrusion from the engine or road surface.
And you can even add a Chauffeur Pack costing £2,600 to keep rear passengers entertained on longer journeys. This introduces digital TV reception, rear seat entertainment and rear seat remote.
Space & Practicality
There is no long-wheel-base version of the Audi S8, but there is still ample legroom for back seat passengers to stretch out in comfort even with the front seats pushed well back.
The power-operated boot is generously-sized and can easily accommodate a couple of sets of golf clubs with its 505-litre capacity. But the rear seats cannot be folded forward at all, so that 505-litre figure is the maximum storage space available.
There are, however, all number of convenient storage spaces scattered throughout the car for all your bits and bobs. These include a lockable and cooled glovebox, door bins, front cup holders, a pair of rear cup holders in the fold-down central armrest, seat back pockets and a deep central cubby box.
With limousine-sized dimensions stretching almost 5.2 metres in length and nearly 2.0 metres in width, the S8 is a large car to park, but Audi has made the process all the simpler with its Park Assist and Parking Aid Plus system that forms part of the standard driver assist systems.
The Audi S8 can tow a trailer weighing up to 2.3 tonnes and boasts the company’s renowned quattro all-wheel drive system for added grip.
The Audi S8 line-up is priced from £100,910 to £117,310 and that’s before you factor in the extensive list of optional extras that are available.
Despite featuring a mild hybrid system for the first time and with the cylinder-on-demand technology, the S8 will still be a thirsty beast and regular trips to fill up will be the norm.
Our test car was the entry-level S8 quattro model and, according to official figures under stricter WLTP testing, it could deliver a combined 24.4mpg with carbon emissions of 261g/km. The fuel efficiency is marginally less on the higher-end S8 variants because they have 21-inch wheels whereas our test car was riding on 20-inch wheels.
The 261g/km CO2 figure would result in a first year Vehicle Excise Duty charge of £2,245 which would be reduced to the standard £155 charge after 12 months. Unfortunately, the payments don’t stop there because all cars (apart from EVs) costing more than £40k have an extra surcharge of £335 for five years beginning 12 months after registration.
But the S8 will retain its value as, according to the experts - CAP Gold Book, it will have a residual value of 28 per cent over three years, 60,000 miles.
The insurance rating for the Audi S8 is set at group 50.
Quality & Reliability
Audi has an excellent reputation that is the envy of many rival manufacturers for developing top quality and reliable cars that provide years of untroubled motoring, and this latest S8 should prove just as dependable.
The revised V8 twin-turbo 4.0-litre engine should run and run and all the on-board technology has been put through thousands of miles of testing in gruelling conditions.
The interior oozes class with upmarket Valcona leather throughout that looks and feels elegant in its design. This upholstery was red in the test car and really looked the part. It should survive the test of time, as should the sturdy switchgear and control systems throughout the vehicle.
The car has been developed using Audi Space Frame – a mix of four materials in the body structure for greater performance, efficiency and safety.
The Audi S8 is supplied with the company’s three year, 60,000-mile warranty.
Safety & Security
Due to low sales volumes, the Audi S8 has not been tested for a Euro NCAP safety rating, but the car is packed with first class safety systems and driver aids to help protect occupants, other road users and also help prevent accidents from happening.
Safety systems include adaptive cruise assist with stop & go plus speed limiter, 360-degree wide angle cameras, a head-up display, park assist with parking aid plus, camera-based traffic sign recognition, tyre pressure monitoring, HD Matrix LED headlights, all-wheel drive with sport differential and a full suite of airbags.
Our test car also featured a City Assistance pack, costing £1,375 that introduced a number of safety systems to the mix. These include Audi pre sense front, Audi pre sense rear, Audi pre sense side, intersection assist, lane change warning, exit warning and cross traffic assist rear.
The S8 is fitted with an excellent anti-theft alarm to keep any uninvited attention at bay.
The Audi S8 is the ultimate proof that comfort and elegance need not be compromised in the search for performance. It literally has it all and should be on any Lotto winner’s wish-list.