It’s probably close to 10 years since I last drove an Audi S8 and not much has changed in
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!
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.
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 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.
Our test vehicle was fitted with the optional $19,000 Sensory package which adds Nappa
leather, more powerful B&O sound system, and two individual rear seats with power-
adjustment, cooling and massage.
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
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.
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
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, you 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.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
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
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.
Like many expensive cars, S8 does not have a safety rating, basically because it hasn’t
been tested but it does come with the highest levels of safety and driver assistance
Highlights include nine airbags, park assist, head-up display, 360-degree cameras for
outstanding visibility when maneuvering, 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,
and collision avoidance assist and efficiency assist.
S8 is the proverbial executive express, made to go like a jet and dispatch the kays with
It is in its element blasting its way down German autobahns, especially those sections
where there is no speed limit.
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
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
The deep boot offers 505 litres of storage, with a cargo net and side pockets to secure
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.
At the same time, once you’re in the car, it kinda shrinks around you and you soon forget
just how big it is.
Although it produces less power than the 2016 S8 Plus, it delivers 50Nm more torque.
The hybrid system is able to boost torque by 60Nm for up to 6.0 seconds.
The car launches with authority, moving swiftly through the gears.
But the ZF transmission tends to engage with a jolt and clunk to stop at lights too.
A Sport differential provides torque-vectoring, controlling the amount of power to each
wheel to improve handling, depending on traction and acceleration.
Multiple sensors throughout the car, including the video camera, influence and actively
control the body, seamlessly adapting to the road conditions.
This is one of the best examples of air suspension I have ever encountered. Most of them I
can barely tolerate. It can load or unload each wheel with additional power individually via
an electric motor and thereby actively regulate the position of the chassis in any driving
The navigation system uses Google Earth to plot your course, with novel images of the
area you are driving through. But we prefer the less cluttered, easier to follow standard
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.
After all this time I still have my fingers crossed.
I hope that one day, if I keep putting my Lotto entry in, fortune will shine on me.
That’s the only way I’ll ever be able to afford an S8. For those who can afford one, what
are you waiting for? You don’t know what you’re missing out on.
Audi S8 comes with a five-year warranty and five-year Audi Roadside Assist, plus a 12-
year manufacturer warranty against corrosion. A five-year service plan is $4030.
AT A GLANCE
A8 50 TDI quattro, $202,700
A8 L 50 TDI quattro, $222,700
S8 quattro, $273,400
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your
local Audi dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS: (Audi S8 Quattro, 4.0L twin turbo V8 petrol, 48V mild hybrid,
Capacity: 4.0 litres
Configuration: Twin turbo V8 petrol / 48V mild hybrid
Maximum Power: 420kW @ 6000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 800 Nm @ 2050-4500 rpm
Fuel Type: 98 RON premium unleaded
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 10.5 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 245 g/km
DRIVELINE: 8-spd automatic, all-wheel drive
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 5190 mm
Wheelbase: 2998 mm
Width: 2130 mm
Height: 1475 mm
Turning Circle: 12.5 metres
Kerb Mass: 2295 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 82 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc
Five years / unlimited kilometres