There’s a distinct thematic change when moving up Audi’s performance ranks from A to S to RS models. This four-door super-limo sticks to the script by offering the controlled but comfortable ride of the A8 paired with extreme power and sprint performance.
How quick is the S8? What do you have to drag race it against? It’s beaten everything from the R8 to the BMW Alpina B7 . Only a select few cars on earth can beat this beast for sheer effortless pace. Just floor it and hang on tight.
The S8 is then a luxury barge with the performance potential to pass an R8 without really trying. It is one of those cars you can imagine Audi executives designing for themselves first and offering for sale second.
The S8 comes in atop the other A8 variants, including a TDI for 2014, but below the range-topping A8 L W12. After the BMW ’s shaming at the drag strip, only the upcoming Bentley Flying Spur and the brand-new 2014 S63 AMG 4Matic can keep up with this level of AWD pace. Oh, and don’t forget the crushing prowess of the Porsche Panamera Turbo .
The A8 /S8 pair is unique within the Volkswagen Group because the costly aluminum space frame and panels are not sharable assets for Bentley or Porsche at the moment. The addition of a world-beating 520 horsepower twin-turbo V-8 engine and eight-speed automatic mean the S8 is one of the most desirable super sedans available at any price.
The major downsides for the A8 – old man styling, slowness – virtually disappear when the car is packing the S8 engine and body kit. Is it enough to earn sales from the extremely capable competition?
Click past the jump for the full review of the 2014 Audi S8 with highlights on cool performance features and equipment.
The S8 leads from the front when it comes to styling. It looks aggressive, incredibly expensive and dripping with class. The platinum grey matte grille really works with the aluminum-alloy mirrors, plus the front splitter and rear blade fin. Quad pipes are prominent in back and leave no question that this thing is king of the road.
The A8 and the S8 have lost a significant amount of grace in this latest body style, due to the slab-like surfaces and some unattractive details. The awkward corner detailing front and rear comes to mind.
Most visible from the rear three-quarter perspective, there is almost a right angle where the swage line turns downward just before the taillights. It is actually a shut line between the body and bumper.
This technique also appears up front and loses a lot of the S7 ’s sportiness in favor of a more formal design. These details look dismal and bring down the appeal of the whole shape.
There is a lot going for the S8’s style besides those minor issues. This Audi is almost a cab-backward design from some angles and the S8-exclusive body kit mirrors the original upward creases in the doors and rockers. The S8 only comes in the normal wheelbase and helps keep the body looking tighter than the LWB available in the other models.
The design may not look terrific but beats other A8 ’s by one point for just a 0.26 cD, thanks to its standard-fit air suspension’s ability to lower the car with increased speed. All S8 Audi’s roll on 21-inch wheels in a choice of three designs.
2014 Audi S8 – Exterior Dimensions:
|Overall length||202.2 in.|
|Overall width||76.7 in.|
|Overall height||57.5 in.|
|Track (front/rear)||64.7/64.4 in.|
2014 Audi S8 – Standard Exterior Features:
- Audi S exterior appearance (Platinum Gray Matte Audi Singleframe grille, unique front/rear fascia and side sills, Aluminum-optic front/rear blade fins and exterior side mirror housings)
- S8-exclusive Adaptive air suspension
- S8-exclusive front and rear bumpers
- Full LED headlight technology
- Automatic headlights, high-beam assistant
- LED taillight technology and rear fog lights
- Power-adjustable, power-folding, auto-dimming, heated exterior side mirrors with memory
- Quad exhaust outlets
- Power trunk open/close
- LED turn indicator light technology integrated into the exterior side mirrors
- Power soft-closing doors
- 21-inch Five-triple-spoke wheels with 265/35 summer tires
- V8 T badging on front fenders
2014 Audi S8 – Optional Exterior Equipment:
- 21-inch Five-arm-rotor design wheels, Titanium finish with 275/35 R21 summer tires ($250)
- 21-inch Five-arm-rotor design wheels with 275/35 R21 summer tires ($250)
Wow. The interior of the S8 is pretty magnificent to behold. The fixtures and style is pure futuretech and high design. The most overwhelming feeling is of length and width but with a low roof height keeping things intimate.
The roof is touchable Alcantara and the vented 22-way power seats are of a material called Volcana leather. Available in six trims with the same amount of leather choices, black will likely remain the most popular. It comes standard with the Carbon Atlas trim.
This is not three stick-on pieces of trim. We’re talking a total carbon-fiber revamp of the swooping dash panels, the doors, the rear doors, the front seatbacks and the rear armrest.
Twin 10-inch rear monitors are offered but the rear fridge stays with the A8 LWB and isn’t offered on the S8. The sporty three-spoke wheel can be optioned to provide heat in the S8’s Cold Weather specification, which also includes heated rear seats. The solar sunroof option is a cool way to recharge the batteries in the sun. Of course, the Bang and Olufsen stereo upgrade is available for real audiophiles.
The other two big options are the driver assistance pack with adaptive stop and go cruise, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot assist. Night vision is a standalone option for $2,300. Virtually everything else on the Audi equipment list is included as standard on the big S8.
Big? The S8’s interior dimensions are somewhat perplexing. The car is very roomy in places like shoulder room and the sense of cabin width via the center tunnel. In other measurements like the front headroom and trunk space, the S8 is significantly smaller than expected. For example, the humble Ford Fusion dwarfs the S8’s interior in most dimensions. The trunk’s capacity of just 13.1 cubic-feet will be a sore spot felt by many owners.
2014 Audi S8 – Interior Dimensions:
|Headroom (Front/Rear)||37.2/39.1 in.|
|Legroom (Front/Rear)||41.4/38.7 in.|
|Shoulder Room (Front/Rear)||59.1/57.8 in.|
|EPA Cargo Volume||12 cubic-feet|
|Shoulder Room (Front/Rear)||57.8/56.9 in.|
|EPA Cargo Volume||13.2 cubic-feet|
2014 Audi S8 – Standard Interior Features:
- Heated and ventilated 22-way power sport comfort front seats, including four-way power lumbar adjustment and massage function, Driver and front passenger seat memory
- Four-zone automatic climate control
- S8-exclusive Three-spoke multifunction sport steering wheel with shift paddles, power tilt and telescopic steering column with memory
- Alcantara headliner
- Valcona leather seats with sport stitched-diamond look
- Audi MMI Navigation plus with voice control system, Audi MMI touch with handwriting-recognition technology, Audi connect with six-month trial subscription, Color driver information system
- BOSE sound system with 14 speakers, AudioPilot noise compensation and 630 watts
- Bluetooth wireless technology preparation for mobile phone; Garage door opener (HomeLink)
- Parking system plus (includes rear view camera and front/rear sensors), top and corner view camera system, Audi side assist, Audi pre sense rear
- Audi drive select - adjustable throttle, suspension, steering and stability control
2014 Audi S8 – Optional Interior Features:
- Driver assistance package ($2,500)
- Lane assist ($500)
- Cold weather pack: heated steering wheel and all seats, ski bag ($800)
- Audi rear seat entertainment - dual 10" screens, DVD player, wireless headphones, additional Audi MMI control panel ($3,000)
- Night vision assistant ($2,300)
- Solar sunroof ($800)
- Black Alcantara headliner (no cost)
- Full Leather package ($5,500)
- Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System ($6,300)
- Leather shifter replaces Carbon Atlas (no cost)
- Walnut Brown inlays (no cost)
- Vavona Wood Assam Gray inlays (no cost)
- Fine grain Ash natural inlays (no cost)
Drivetrain, Suspension and Brakes
The S8’s drivetrain details and official 3.9 second 0-to-60 time leave room to wonder if there is actually more performance under there than expected. Is a 3.5 possible? Only very recently have automatic sedans been anywhere near this fast.
The S8’s twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 makes 520 horsepower and 481 pound-feet of torque. The torque peak is at 5,500 rpm which sounds impressive until you realize the S6 gets 406 pound-feet at 1,400 rpm. The S8’s engine runs continuously variable valve timing and a giant intake system exclusive to this model. The boost pressure is also increased significantly from the A8 4.0T’s 12.3 psi to the S8’s 15.9 psi.
The S8 pairs launch control with the conventional eight-speed Tiptronic automatic to build major boost before rocketing the car off the line. The S8 keeps it tidy in the corners via a sport quattro diff in back and adaptive steering up front.
This all-aluminum Audi is a pretty heavy vehicle at nearly 4,700 pounds but manages itself well in corners via the standard adaptive air suspension. Included in the selectable presets, the air suspension can be limo soft or racetrack hard. It also offers a range of ride heights that include a “Lift” setting for steep driveways or gravel roads.
2014 Audi S8 – Mechanical Details:
|Engine Size and Type||4.0-liter Twin Turbocharged 32-valve V-8 With Chain-Driven DOHC|
|Peak power||520 horsepower|
|Peak torque||481 pound-feet|
|Transmission||Eight-speed Automatic With Paddle Shift|
|0-to-60 mph||3.9 seconds|
|Top Speed||155 mph|
The S8 is extremely safe, despite not going through the official IIHS and NHTSA testing programs. The car packs eight standard airbags and a multi-mode stability control program with race settings.
The one problem with the S8’s all-aluminum construction is that it cannot be repaired by all body shops. When crashed, A8 and S8 models have to go to an aluminum specialist that is not always nearby.
One look below the panels explains why. This car uses small boxed aluminum rails to support its bodywork versus making the fenders a stressed chassis segment, for example.
The optional night vision and adaptive cruise control are highly advanced versions of the technology and are ready for primetime. Triple radar runs a triple radar array (short, medium and long range) and stereoscopic cameras for lane assist and infrared night vision.
2014 Audi S8 – Standard Safety Features:
- Driver and front passenger dual-stage airbags, thorax side airbags, knee airbags, and Sideguard head curtain airbags
- Rear-passenger thorax side airbags
- Front passenger occupant detection—for airbags
- Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-pressure Distribution (EBD) and brake assist
- Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with traction control (ASR)
- Tire-pressure monitoring system
- Safety belt reminder for driver and front passenger
- Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren (LATCH) in rear seats
- Electromechanical parking brake
The Audi S8 costs $110,000 before options. There’s less scope to spend big money as the options are all very well priced. Changing to different 21-inch wheels is just $250, for example.
The 2014 Panamera facelift is so subtle you really have to see the old and new models back to back. This does not change the car’s giant-killing abilities on the drag strip. The Porsche also does far better at the twisty racetrack than either of these other luxury barges. It is a versatile hatchback design but the rear end is one of its least popular features. The Turbo model starts at $141,000.
Note: This photo shows a Panamera 4S, not the new Turbo.
Gallery Porsche Panamera
The forthcoming S63 4Matic is the category leader and has the most to lose from all this new competition. The S63 will run a 5.5-liter turbocharged V-8 with expected S Model performance packs coming standard. Nearly 600 horsepower is likely in top trim. Combined with the newly-standard 4MATIC drivetrain, the S63 AMG is expected to reach 60 mph in the high 3s as well.
Note: This photo shows a spy shot rendering of the unreleased S63 AMG based on the new 2014 S550.
Gallery Mercedes-Benz S-Class
The super-sedan segment is not a large market but does have some of the most desirable, ultra-net-worth individuals. Captains of industry, celebrities and Transporters… just to name a few. Hitting it big with this clientele is typically a cherished ambition of the German luxury brands in particular.
How does the S8 fare? It is a remarkable vehicle and a stunning engineering masterpiece. It’s worth recalling that the S63 AMG and the Flying Spur are also pretty cushy cruisers despite the huge power.
|Driving||A-||Air Suspensions For All!|
|Performance||A||Extremely Rapid And Easy To Launch Consistently|
|Look||C+||The S8’s Beautiful Details Are Let Down By Slab Sides|
|Value||B+||The Options Are Are Cheaper Than The Panamera or S63’s|
|Overall||B+||The Luxury Limo For Those Who Never Lose|
- Strong Los Angeles appeal
- That cabin and those seats are nicer than American companies could ever build, even with cost no object
- Everything is standard
- Strong Los Angeles appeal
- Showy but also formal?
- Fighting a tough battle in over-saturated market
Gallery Audi S8
2014 Audi A8 Model Line
The A8 L TDI went on sale in April and provides an astounding class-leading fuel economy of 24 city /36 highway /28 combined MPG. Normal wheelbase models in the A8 model line now have the Convenience package standard, including power door closers, Audi advanced key with hands-free power trunk release and Audi parking system with rearview camera.
The Premium package option includes Audi side assist, full LED headlights, and 22-way front seats with ventilation and massage. Audi side assist and Audi pre sense rear are now standard on S8 and W12 models.