Audi S8 review
The Audi S8 is a V8 petrol-powered limo that blend performance with sumptuous luxury. It’s thirsty though, and doesn’t stand out on the high street if that’s your sort of thing.
What's not so good
Find out more about the Audi S8
The Audi S8 is the ideal car for executives in a hurry, because it blends supercar pace with limousine luxury.
Along with rivals such as the BMW M760 Li, the Audi S8 makes very short work of getting from where you are to where you need to be in very short order, and if that ‘need to be’ is a long way away, the S8 will be in its element. Basically, it’s a Learjet for the road. The chauffeur shouldn’t be wearing a cap, they should have epaulettes on.
As with any four-wheeled Lear, the cabin is a highlight. It represents Audi at its finest, with the sort of surfaces and materials that make you think you’ve done alright for yourself, with the sort of space that allows you to feel suitably distanced from the hoi polloi up front. The driver will be enjoying their time in the huge S8 sports seats, however, which are multi-way adjustable and can keep your backside at just the ideal temperature.
Other S8-specific trims comprise an S steering wheel, S badges on the kickplates and a red-rimmed start button.
There’s decent space in both the front and back of the S8, and even those in the rear will be sitting on sports seats. They’ll be looking at Alcantara headlining and having their ears soothed by a Bang and Olufsen sound system, too. However, while other countries get the S8 in long-wheelbase form for extra lounging space, the UK’s high fliers need to make do with the ‘compact’ version.
Behind everyone, the 505-litre boot is big enough for all your business/golfing accoutrements.
Keeps up with supercars on the straights, and worries hot hatches in the corners. The chauffeur will have a ball.
So that’s the back half of the car taken care of, but the really interesting stuff happens at the front, where there’s a twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 engine that develops 571hp and 800Nm of torque. It puts its power down through all four wheels and an eight-speed automatic gearbox, and boy, does it go. We timed it at 0-60mph in 3.2 seconds, and 0-100mph in 8.1 seconds, while it covered the standing quarter-mile in 11.5 seconds. In a car that you could plot a company takeover from. Incredible.
The Audi S8 stops as well as it goes, too, with upgraded brakes over the standard Audi A8. However, it’s a shame that UK buyers don’t get the options of specifying carbon-ceramic brakes, which are powerful as well as lighter than the standard stoppers.
When you’re not humiliating sports cars off the line, the S8 is just as relaxed and comfortable as any other A8, because it comes as standard with Audi’s predictive active suspension. What this brings is a Comfort+ mode, which uses an array of forward sensors to ‘read’ the road, and adapt the suspension to take account of any upcoming bumps, potholes, sleeping policemen etc. It is akin to witchcraft, so adept is it at isolating you from bumps that your eyes tell you should make you wince.
The S8 also comes with four-wheel steering. This system turns the rear wheels in the opposite direct to the fronts at low speeds, which helps manoeuvrability in town, and then turns the rears in the same direction as the fronts at faster speeds, to help with cornering stability on a twisty road.
It works, because the S8 feels manageable despite its size, and on a B-road it would give any hot hatch driver palpitations.
The S8 is, as you’d expect, a supreme long-distance machine, with that incredible ride comfort and an engine that fades into the background on motorways. Head to our Audi deals page to see how much you could save.
*Please contact the dealer for a personalised quote, including terms and conditions. Quote is subject to dealer requirements, including status and availability. Illustrations are based on personal contract hire, 9 month upfront fee, 48 month term and 8000 miles annually, VAT included.