Audi S8

A very fast executive saloon car

8.0
wowscore
This is the average score given by leading car publications from 9 reviews
  • Very fast
  • Sounds good
  • Gorgeous interior
  • Slightly firm suspension
  • Not fun to drive
  • Will lose value quickly
 

£82,075 - £98,395 Price range

 

5 Seats

 

28 - 30 MPG

Review

The Audi S8 is the fastest version of the A8 and comes with quattro four-wheel-drive as standard unlike its rivals the Mercedes S-Class, the BMW 7 Series and the Jaguar XJ.

The true star of the S8’s show is the 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 that Audi also uses in a few of its other performance models including the RS6. In the S8 it’s lively and responsive and it makes a lovely roar. It’s even relatively frugal for such a powerful engine thanks to clever cylinder-on-demand technology.

The S8, like all Audis, has a beautifully appointed interior but with added sporty touches. Everything is made from the highest quality materials and feels built to last many motorway miles. Passenger space is huge because this car is focused on providing comfort to passengers and the boot is roomy too.

On the motorway the S8 is very comfortable and quiet, but on twisty B-roads it isn’t as fun to drive as the Jaguar XJ, partly because the S8 has light steering which doesn’t give you lots of confidence in fast corners.

The S8 is the most expensive version of one of Audi’s most expensive models, so the standard equipment list is very generous – you’ll get most things as standard, but there’s still a pricey options list to work your way through.

Read on for a full in-depth review of the S8.

 

Because it’s essentially a super-fast A8, the S8 gets a beautifully made and comfortable interior.

To differentiate it from the regular A8, Audi has given it a range of sporty upgrades such as carbon-fibre inlays and grey-black dials. ‘Sports comfort’ seats replace the regular A8’s ones and according to reviewers they do exactly what their name suggests – they offer great support when driving fast around corners and are supremely comfortable on a cruise.

Audi S8 passenger space

The S8 offers the same huge amounts of passenger space as the regular A8 and there’s plenty of rear legroom and headroom for three adults and lots of storage bins. There is also a huge range of adjustments for the driver so that anyone can find a comfortable driving position.

Audi S8 boot space

The boot space is also unchanged from the A8 and stands at 510 litres. The electric-opening tailgate and wide boot opening make loading bulky items easy.

On the road the S8 lacks the agility of the BMW 7 Series or the comfort of the Mercedes S-Class, but it’s still very capable of going very fast along any road.

It’s rarely unsettled by fast driving and covers miles in impressive silence thanks to a noise cancellation technology that pumps artificial sound through the speakers that cancels out tyre and wind noise.

The S8 comes with Audi’s Drive Select interface which has several different modes that change the car’s suspension stiffness, steering weight and throttle response depending on the road conditions and the driver’s mood.

Testers report that in Dynamic mode the S8’s suspension is way too firm for UK roads, but in Comfort the ride quality is decent.

Powering the S8 is a gem of an engine. All of the reviewers were impressed by the incredible pace it offered.

It’s also used in a number of other performance Audis and the entry-level Bentley Continental GT as well. In the S8 the engine develops 515hp which is enough to slingshot the 2,000kg+ saloon to 62mph in a hardly believable 4.1 seconds. The top speed is governed at 155mph but the S8 can stay there all day.

This pace comes at a price, though, and you’d struggle to achieve a better fuel economy than 20mpg despite the S8 having cylinder-on-demand technology to turn half the engine off when cruising. The change-over is only noticeable by a light on the dashboard.

Audi S8 plus

New for 2015 is the Plus model which adds a healthy 90hp and lots of torques to the already powerful 4.0-litre V8 and the resulting performance is almost unbelievable. This 2200+kg luxury saloon can accelerate from 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds. Supercars from a few years ago couldn’t manage that with their V12 engines and lightweight bodies. Keen car-spotters only will spot the black exhaust pipes instead of the chrome ones on the regular S8.

Euro NCAP hasn’t crash tested the A8 or the S8, but the smaller A4, A6 and Q5 all got the full five-star rating, so it’s safe to assume that the A8 will also get top marks.

The S8 should be very safe thanks to a range of standard safety equipment that includes advanced stability control, and a system that tightens the seatbelts and closes the windows if it senses an impact is imminent.

As optional extras you can add a night-vision camera and adaptive cruise control.

Being at the top of the model range means the S8 comes with plenty of standard equipment such as a Bose sound system, satellite navigation, climate control and leather seats with Alcantara suede-like inserts.

There are many optional extras that can add more comfort, style or function and range from a £130 air ioniser (which helps you feel more alert by mimicking the freshness of mountain air) to ceramic brakes costing a hefty £8,650. It’s worth noting as well that Audi A8 models depreciate (lose value) very quickly – so be aware that you won’t get back anywhere near the price you paid for the car when it was new.

The upside of that depreciation is that you can save a huge amount on the list price by buying your A8 through carwow. Just click our green ‘compare offers’ button to get started.

Conclusion

The Audi S8 is a very versatile and capable all-weather cruiser with a very powerful engine.

The interior is one of Audi’s best and the generous equipment levels only add to its appeal.

However – the Mercedes S63 AMG has more passenger space and is a tad more comfortable, but the S8 is cheaper. The S8’s biggest rival, then, is the A8 4.2-litre diesel that offers nearly the same pace, is cheaper to run and even cheaper.

 

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