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- Highs Elegant design, blistering performance, well-equipped luxury interior.
- Lows Suffers from terminal understeer, not very fuel-efficient, expensive.
- Verdict The A8 combines excellent power with a luxury interior and surprisingly agile handling wrapped in a handsome, large-sedan package.
Audi launched its latest S8 full-size executive “rally car for the street" in the 2013 model year, two years after the fourth generation of the A8 luxury sedan premiered. While the A8 is sold only in the long-wheelbase version in the U.S. market, the S8 uses the model’s shorter, 117.8-inch wheelbase. The S8 is powered by a 520-hp twin-turbo V-8 that Audi co-developed with another brand from the Volkswagen Group, Bentley. It comes with Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system, eight-speed automatic transmission, and a sport-tuned version of the A8’s adaptive air suspension. As of last year, all S8s come with the Sport Plus package, with matte-black grille inserts, 21-inch wheels, redesigned diffusers with carbon-fiber elements, carbon-fiber inlets in the fenders, and quad exhaust tips with gloss-black accents.
What's New for 2017?
Audi Design offers a new optional interior color scheme for the 2017 S8, featuring black leather seats with red stitching.
- Base: $116,850
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Car and Driver’s stopwatch says the S8 will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in a scant 3.3 seconds. We said its “blistering performance makes it one of the ultimate sleepers sold today.” The car’s optional Dynamic package lifts the 155-mph electronic speed limiter and frees the S8 to keep going to a top speed of 190 mph. The 520-hp 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8’s rumble is “sinister, yet subdued.” It’s coupled to an eight-speed automatic and puts power to all four wheels, full-time. The A8’s adaptive air suspension was sport-tuned for the S8, then tuned up again for the S8 Plus. It’s cushy in Comfort mode, but click it into Dynamic mode and the driver enjoys a large, heavy sedan with keen steering, deft response, and an unworldly ability to rotate. However, we found that the A8 suffers from terminal understeer due to its forward weight bias.
EPA fuel-economy testing and reporting procedures have changed over time. For the latest numbers on current and older vehicles, visit the EPA’s website and select Find & Compare Cars.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The newly optional black leather seats with Arras red stitching adds some visual pop to the S8 's subdued interior, with its real metal trim (no wood). The cabin is typical high-quality Audi in terms of fit and finish, with materials befitting the brand’s flagship. Standard luxury features include heated and ventilated front seats with 22-way power adjustment, leather upholstery, Alcantara headliner and door trim, dual-zone climate control, and a refrigerated glovebox.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The S8 features Audi’s MMI infotainment system with an attached mouse-like control device on the center console. It comes with Bluetooth, a USB port, and a 14-speaker Bose audio system with satellite radio. The optional premium high-fidelity stereo is the Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System with 1,920 watts and 23 speakers.
Safety Features and Crash Test Ratings
For more information about the Audi S8’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites.
Some older vehicles are still eligible for coverage under a manufacturer's Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program. For more information visit our guide to every manufacturer's CPO program.