The Epitome of Absolute Luxury with the Heart of a Race Car – the Audi S8

source: Audi Magazine (Audi Australia)

The Audi S8 occupies a highly specialised place in the automotive market – a car with all of the benchmark attributes of the brand’s benchmark A8 but with performance and handling straight from the supercar ranks.

By every conceivable standard the S8 is a true specialist that occupies its own niche market

In many ways the Audi S8 is an enigma. On the one hand it is a large, supremely luxurious limousine boasting absolutely state-of-the-art technology – the quintessential luxury conveyance. On the other hand, there are few cars that can match it in a straight-line from a standing start and in the right hands, it will embarrass all but the most dedicated performance specials on twisty mountain roads. And the fact is that most of them couldn’t carry five adults and luggage into the bargain.

By every conceivable standard the S8 is a true specialist that occupies its own niche market. For those looking for a high-performance sedan that also boasts the highest levels of luxury and technology, it stands alone.

In the pantheon of great movie car chases, the S8 enjoys something approaching cult status for its role in the 1998 film Ronin, where its combination of subtle styling and blistering performance and handling made it the getaway car of choice for the team of special operatives led by Robert De Niro.

The new Audi S8 which touched down in Australia late last year carries on the proud, though understated tradition of the model, bringing the very latest technology, lighting and safety equipment to an even more refined performance package that again belies the car’s size and outwardly stately demeanour.

From ‘magic carpet’ ride to ‘race car’ levels of grip and handling

The S8 showcases the brand’s mastery of engineering and automotive technology, while delivering supercar performance and handling.

The S8 once again offers benchmark luxury for passengers, with a ride that has been further refined through the use of Audi’s predictive active suspension. This works in combination with multiple sensors throughout the car, including the video camera, to provide a sublime ride in all conditions and situations. It seamlessly adapts to the road conditions, loading or unloading each wheel with additional power via an electric motor to actively regulate the position of the chassis in any driving situation. Drive over a large pothole and the chassis remains unaffected with the wheels and suspensions absorbing the irregularity in the road.

The same system also enhances the comfort of passengers at speed while giving the handling something approaching superpowers. At speeds between 80 and 130 km/h and lateral acceleration of up to 0.4g, cornering is hardly noticeable to passengers, and, driving hard into a bend it elevates the side of the body on the outside of the curve and lowers the other side, tilting it into the curve up to three degrees – greater road holding and comfort achieved in the same move.

Those who know their cars will spot the quad exhausts and the massive brake discs inside the 21-inch Audi Sport wheels

On the surface the S8 is all elegance without any overt signs of what it is capable of. It is sleek and understated, although the Digital Matrix LED headlights OLED rear lights add to the car’s presence while also giving it the most advanced lighting system available on the market.

Those who know their cars will spot the quad exhausts and the massive brake discs inside the 21-inch Audi Sport wheels, clamped by enormous red calipers (customers can also opt for a ceramic brake package to up the stopping power even more). These come into their own when exploring the limits of the superb 4.0-litre TFSI V8 with its 420kW and 800Nm of torque from 2050 to 4500rpm. That rockets the limousine from stop to 100km/h in 3.8 seconds on the way to a top speed of 250km/h.

This engine also uses hybrid technology (MHEV), operating off the car’s 48-volt main electrical system to further enhance the engine’s performance, recovering up to 8kW of power while coasting or under light throttle. Audi’s cylinder on demand technology (CoD) is also present, shutting down half of the cylinders when the engine is not under load, to aid fuel consumption.

When it comes to attention to detail, the Audi S8 is simply on another level

Put all of this together with quattro all-wheel drive and a quattro sport rear diff, all-wheel and dynamic steering along with the aforementioned adaptive suspension and you have a car with next level handling and road holding at any speed.

It has the agility of a small sports car and yet it compromises on nothing in terms of its technology offering, interior appointment and finish.

When it comes to attention to detail, the Audi S8 is on another level. The body raises 50mm at the touch of the door handle to make more comfortable for those getting on board. The interior is exquisitely crafted and boasts every conceivable luxury. The likes of of Audi smartphone interface via wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto all go without saying, as does the Audi virtual cockpit plus with head-up and 1920W Bang & Olufsen 3D premium sound system with its  23 speakers. The S8 is also equipped with digital TV functionality as standard and two 10.1-inch high definition screens are also available optionally for the rear seat passengers to watch movies or streaming materials from their own devices.

The sumptuous interior is upholstered in plush Valcona leather with heating, ventilation and massage functions in the front seats.

Less conspicuous but no less important, the S8 features the full suite of safety and driver assistance systems

The outer rear seats are also electrically adjusted and feature memory and heating functions, while rear passengers can read using the Matrix LED reading lights – the outside world kept pleasantly at bay by side and rear window shades in addition to the privacy glass.

Less conspicuous but no less important, the S8 features the full suite of safety and driver assistance systems, quietly going about their duties and ever watchful should they be called on in an emergency. From the adaptive cruise assist with Stop&Go and traffic assist, to cross traffic assist and exit warning – all systems are presented in the S8. Even night vision assist is a standard feature, improving visibility at night by electronically visualising the road and surroundings, including identifying and marking out people and larger wild animals.

Indeed every detail within the S8 has been carefully considered and beautifully executed, giving each journey, no matter the duration, a real sense of occasion. While for the driver, each trip is immensely rewarding – particularly those that allow you to explore the car’s tremendous limits. Although obviously sharing its DNA with it close A8 siblings, the S8 is in a class of its own – a highly specialised car, designed and built for a highly specialised type of customer.

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