The next-gen S8 is coming for 2018 and will offer huge improvements in a number of areas

The Audi A8 was introduced to the world in 1994, and in 1996 the European market laid its eyes on the first Audi S8 – a beefed up version of the A8. Since then, the S8 has gone through two more generational changes with the most recent being in 2012. A mild facelift came in 2014, but the S8 still looked somewhat dated. Now, we’ve finally gotten a look at the next-gen model testing on the Nürburgring and, as expected, it will take on Audi’s updated design language. Unlike the current model, however, we expect the 2018 S8 to drop the 4.0-liter V-8 in favor of that 2.9-liter V-6 that is found in the Porsche Panamera.

As a beefed up version of the A8, the S8 should take on similar styling cues with a more aggressive twist to them. It will also get new wheels, bigger brakes, and some extra interior appointments too. We saw the upcoming A8 testing back as early as June 14 on the Nürburgring, so it took about three months for Audi to open the gate that was keeping the S8 in captivity. Now that it’s out in the wild, let’s dive on in a take a good look at the future Audi S8

Continue reading to learn more about the Audi S8.

Spy Shots

September 27, 2016 - First testing session

2018 Audi S8 Exterior Spyshots
- image 689542
2018 Audi S8 Exterior Spyshots
- image 689540
2018 Audi S8 Exterior Spyshots
- image 689545


Obviously, this is an early-on prototype, so it’s still rocking an unfinished front fascia and all kinds of cool, swirly camo. What we can see, however, is that the nose of the car will now be shorter thanks to Audi’s new grille design. Compared to the old design, the new grille is much shorter than before and considerably wider. It still sports a hexagonal shape, but the edges in the upper corner are now much longer than before, while the lower corners of the grille remain somewhat rounded, giving the grille a more modern look and a welcomed change. As such, the hood now has a gentle contour that helps to shape the nose as opposed to being obstructed by the upper edge of the grille. The other easy-to-spot change is the new headlight units. The headlights have been reshaped altogether and are now thinner than before. They come to a sharper point on the fenders, while the inner edge runs parallel to the upper corner of the grille.

It still sports a hexagonal shape, but the edges in the upper corner are now much longer than before.

If the new S8 sports any air dam at all, it will be rather thin, and no larger than the side of one louver from the grille. The air inlet on each corner isn’t finalized based on this prototype, but I expect them to be a bit smaller compared to the current model and will likely feature some kind of stylish louver to go with some thin, LED fog lights. Expect to see the headlights feature a new lens layout with an updated LED strip. The hood looks to carry on rather unchanged, but there may be a little extra definition added to the body line on each side.

Moving over to the sides, I don’t see a whole lot of differences to discuss. The contour around the wheel arches in the front and rear look to be the same, as does the body line that protrudes from the doors between the front and rear wheels. The one thing that has changed on the side profile is the upper body line. On the current model, this line travels from the corner of the headlight back to the rear and is situated between the belt line and the door handles. In these spy shots, we can see that the line has been moved down a bit. It now looks to feed off the contour line of the front wheel arch and runs inline with the door handles. It’s not a massive change, but sometimes it’s the little things that make the most difference. The side view mirrors have also changed a bit with the upper edge transitioning into the lower, outside corner smoothly.

Moving toward the back, it’s really hard to make out the stationary window just behind the rear doors. After close inspection, it looks like this window may be a bit smaller than before – something that would ultimately make the rearmost pillar a bit wider. Overall the grade of the rear pillars and the rear glass looks to be the same, but the rear decklid may be a little flatter on the next-gen model. The rear lip on the decklid appears to have been toned down a bit in comparison, while the end of the decklid is more rounded and bubbly than before. The license plate recess has been moved up a bit, and now sits under a more pronounced overhang from the decklid. The rear fascia is now a bit taller than before and also has a bubblier look – there’s now about six or seven inches between the decklid and the main character line of the fascia.

The rear fascia now features a few extra lines just above the exhaust outlets. On the prototype that are thin, red reflectors on each corner, but these are likely there just for testing purposes and won’t be found on the finalized production model. Expect to see a small insert along the bottom of the fascia on the finished model and the exhaust outlets will be finished in chrome and flush with the aforementioned insert. The taillights on this prototype look to me much smaller than those of the outgoing model and it looks like they may be mounted solely to the rear quarters as opposed to the split design with half of the lens on the decklid. This prototype is rolling on the same standard wheels found on the current-gen model but expect to see at least one new design for 2018.


2017 Audi S5 High Resolution Interior
- image 678523

Note: 2017 Audi S5 interior shown here.

the S8 to look nearly identical to the S5 on the inside with a lower-sitting dash.

Audi has long been known for sharing interior design cues across its entire car lineup, so while we can’t get a good look at the inside of this prototype, we can look to the 2017 A5 and S5 to get a good idea of what is going on inside. I expect the S8 to look nearly identical to the S5 on the inside with a lower-sitting dash, new virtual cockpit design, and a new infotainment display perched ever so beautifully on top of the center stack. As seen in the S5, the three-spoke steering wheel should be updated to with a hollow bottom spoke, and it will, of course, be flat-bottom in design.

The center console will take a new overall look with ambient lighting in the side pockets and LED lighting inside the forward-sitting cup holders. The face of the dash will change dramatically with the length of the dash equipped with long, thin HVAC vents. HVAC controls will be toned down dramatically and will be positioned between the center console and the infotainment display. Needless to say, it will be a huge departure compared to the current model on offer.


2018 Audi S8 Exterior Spyshots
- image 689547
The entry-level S8 take on the 2.9-liter potentially pushing upward of 480 ponies, while the 4.0-liter will probably carry over for the range-topping model to help push closer to 600 ponies.

With that new 2.9-liter engine that is being shared between Porsche and Audi, rumor has it that the new S8 could make use of this new engine. In the Porsche Panamera, it offers up 440 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of torque. It’s enough to push the Panamera to 62 mph in 4.4 seconds or 4.2 seconds with a Sport Chrono package. Top speed sits around 180 mph. Now, while this engine is awesome and offers a lot of power for a smallish V-6, it poses one big problem. The S8 is big, and the current model uses a 4.0-liter V-8 that delivers 512 horsepower or 597 horsepower, depending on how the S8 is specced out. So, that 2.9 would mean a serious drop in power unless it can be tuned to deliver more. While Audi might be able to pull out close to 500 with some fine ECU remapping and some extra turbo boost, getting it closer to 600 seems somewhat impossible.

With that said, I would expect to see the entry-level S8 take on the 2.9-liter potentially pushing upward of 480 ponies, while the 4.0-liter will probably carry over for the range-topping model to help push closer to 600 ponies. If Audi decided to go solely with the 2.9-liter, I see a lot of unhappy customers who won’t want a car of this type with so little power. For now, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens, but we’re hoping Audi doesn’t make a big mistake here.


2018 Audi S8 Exterior Spyshots
- image 689544

Pricing is still a total mystery at this point, but we know there are going to be some significant changes inside and out. With the current model starting out at around £82,075 in the U.K, expect pricing to increase a bit to as much as £83,500. At current conversion rates that computers to about $108,678.


Mercedes S-Class

2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
- image 689549

As far as competition with the A8, no regular old S-Class will really float the bit. For an entry-level model that uses that 2.9-liter engine, you could pit the A8 against the Mercedes S-550. It has a 4.7-liter V-8 that delivers some 449 horsepower and a 4.8-second sprint to 60 mph. For a V-8 toting S8, you can look more toward the Mercedes-AMG S63. It boasts a 5.5-liter V-8 that delivers a fair 577 horsepower and a 3.9-second sprint to 60 mph. As a Mercedes, the S-Class is ultimately a little more expensive in some cases with the S550 commanding $96,600 while the S63 commands $144,700.

Learn more about the Mercedes S-Class here.


2016 BMW M6 Exterior
- image 585497
The BMW M6 makes its debut with a nip here and a tuck there.

This wouldn’t be a complete review if we didn’t pit Audi against Mercedes and BMW, but BMW doesn’t exactly have a full-fledged M-version of its 7 Series. There is a M760Li xDrive, but it’s significantly more expensive compared to the S8, and rumor has it that Bimmer is working on an M7, but so far we’ve heard next to nothing about it. So, I’m looking to the M6 Gran Coupe for now. With starting price of $117,500, it’s actually a little more expensive than where we expect the S8 to fall price-wise, but it does offer 560 horsepower to go with a 4.1-second sprint to 60 mph. It’s not quite as large, in all reality, but it does sport four doors and a sexy exterior design worth of competing with the S8.

Find out more about the BMW M6 here.


2018 Audi S8 Exterior Spyshots
- image 689540

I have to say that I’m really excited to see the new S8 make its long awaited debut. The current model has that tall nose and radiator grille to go with an outdated looking interior. This new model should get the same cues that we see in the smaller “S” models which makes for a lot of much-needed change to Audi’s large performance sedan. Now we just have to hope it still keeps that V-8 under the hood, at least for the range-topping model, because that 2.9-liter just isn’t going to stack up well against the competition. Plus, a serious drop in power with this generation could prove to be big trouble for Audi.

  • Leave it
    • * That 2.9-liter isn’t a good idea for the S8
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: