It’s probably close to 10 years since I last drove an Audi S8 and not much has changed in that time.
It’s got a bit more power and technology, but still looks pretty much the same and the basics are still there. And it’s still the car I’d buy if I was lucky enough to win Lotto.
Big, prestigious and powerful, the S8 is a lot of car, almost too much I thought, as it snapped sideways when I made the mistake of punching the accelerator on a wet road.
Whoa there boy!
What’s it cost?
Strictly speaking there’s just the one model and it has been the flag bearer for the Audi brand for almost 30 years.
The range kicks off with the 3.0 A8 5.0L TDI from $202,700, followed by the long wheelbase 3.0 A8L 5.0 TDI with the same diesel drivetrain from $222,700, then comes the halo Audi S8 4.0L V8 TSFI quattro, a V8-powered sports limousine priced from a lofty $273,400 plus on roads.
Launched in 2020, the latest version is immediately identifiable as the S8, but has been updated with a sporty new grille and slightly different bumper design, together with whiz-bang LED matrix laser light headlights.
Each headlight is made up of about 1.3 million micromirrors that break down the light into tiny pixels and allow it to be controlled with incredible precision.
The technology is shared with video projectors and includes advanced coming/leaving home sequences, glare-free high-beam and lane orientation, as well as marking lights for highways.
There’s also a revised OLED light bar and tail lights around back that light up like a Christmas tree when the car is power cycled — thought that tech was confined to TVs?
This model also gets night vision assist with marking lights.
Its presence is underlined by 21-inch 10-Y-spoke wheels, accentuated with red brake calipers, black exterior styling, metallic paint and privacy glass for the rear windows.
A selection of nine exterior colours are available, while inside, customers can choose from three interior trim colour schemes.
The fitout is impressive.
The interior is upholstered in Valcona leather, complete with an elegant arrangement of carbon vector and dark brushed aluminium inlays.
Standard equipment includes four-zone climate control and leather trim, perforated for the front and outer rear seats, with door and side panel trim inserts in suede — even the roof.
The front seats are cooled as well as heated, with massage and electric adjustment, plus a heated steering wheel. The front armrests are also heated.
There’s also a panoramic sunroof and electric sunblinds – all operable from the rear remote control.
Two centre touchscreens accompany the infotainment system, a 10.1-inch screen for most features and another 8.6-inch screen to control air conditioning.
The system features Bluetooth, voice recognition, built-in navigation, DVB-T digital television, AM/FM/DAB+ digital radio, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (the latter is wired).
TV on the go is a great idea, but in reality you can’t use it while the car is moving and reception tends to drop out even more than digital radio. Tunnels that support DAB don’t necessarily support DVB.
Optional 10.1-inch screens are available for back seat passengers.
While you can’t watch the telly on the go, ypou can list to the 730 watt Bang & Olufsen 3D Sound System with 17 speakers including 3D sound loudspeakers, centre speaker and subwoofer, 16-channel amplifier is standard.
Not enough speakers? An 1820 watt 23-speaker system is optional and part of the Sensory package.
It includes two tiny speakers near the bottom corners of the windscreen that rise several centimetres from concealment when the system is activated.
There’s also wireless phone charging, two USB ports in the front and another two in the rear with data and charging functionality.
Like many expensive cars, S8 does not have a safety rating, basically because it hasn’t been tested.
But comes with the highest levels of safety and driver assistance systems.
Highlights include park assist, head-up display, 360-degree cameras for outstanding visibility when manoeuvring, adaptive cruise assist with stop and go and traffic jam assist, exit warning and rear cross traffic assist.
Lane change warning detection offers a range of functions such as side assist, turn assist, collision avoidance assist and efficiency assist.
S8 comes with a 5-year warranty and 5-year Audi Roadside Assist, plus a 12-year manufacturer warranty against corrosion.
A five-year service plan is $4030.
What’s it go like?
S8 is the proverbial executive express, made to go like a jet and dispatch the kays with studied indifference.
It is in its element blasting its way down German autobahns, especially those sections where there is no speed limit.
The design is subtle, but there’s no mistaking the big wheels and four high calibre tailpipes protruding from under the rear bumper.
Dark, conservative colours are offset by chrome highlights, almost a rarity in an automotive landscape riddled with black and dark de-chromed offerings.
Clearly, it’s no SUV, although Audi makes plenty of them, but it’s got plenty to offer and I, for one, couldn’t give a damn.
Audi pioneered the use of aluminium for the chassis with the introduction of the A8.
Getting in and out of the S8, reveals that the car rises and falls 50mm to make the process a little easier.
Double-glazing and active noise cancellation make the interior almost as quiet as an EV, that is until you give the throttle a prod.
Then the rumble of the V8 makes its presence known.
Interior space is expansive.
The driver sits in power adjustable sports seats facing a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that can be configured to present a variety of information.
Back seat passengers have oodles of legroom and are provided with their own set of controls for things such as seats, lights, blinds and climate control, with a removable OLED tablet.
The deep boot offers 505 litres of storage, with a cargo net and side pockets to secure items.
The bellowing 4.0-litre twin turbo petrol V8 produces 420kW of power and 800Nm of torque, the latter between 2050 and 4500 rpm.
Drive is to all four wheels as needed through an eight-speed auto, propelling the car from o to 100km/h in just 3.8 seconds, on the way to an electronically-governed top speed of 250 km/h.
New to the mix is a 48-volt mild hybrid, designed to reduce fuel consumption and engine emissions, along with auto engine stop-start and cylinder deactivation.
Fuel consumption is a claimed 10.5L/100km.
We were getting more than 13.0L/100km but this dropped rapidly on our run into Sydney, finishing on 11.8L after close to 300km of driving, including a short blast through the countryside.
S8 is a consummate performer, remaining unfazed by most potholes, easy to drive with light steering and impressive braking.
In fact, it has four-wheel steer which means the rear wheels actually turn just a little to help pull its 5.2 metres around corners.