• The 2020 Audi S8 Has Been Revealed with Mild Hybrid V-8, But Does that Mean More Power?

Still more powerful than the previous S8 though

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It’s been two years since the new-generation Audi A8 went into production and the German firm finally unveiled a higher performance S8 model. A replacement for the old S8 that was introduced in 2015, the 2020 S8 combines the most recent A8 design, sportier than before, with the new technology in the same sedan, and a new drivetrain that brings together a V-8 gas engine and a 48-volt mild-hybrid system.

The 2020 Audi S8 is an A8 with minor styling tweaks

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Just like its predecessor, the 2020 S8 is essentially an A8 with revised body elements that are supposed to give it a sportier vibe.

In reality, the S8 retains the simple lines and elegance of the A8, but it stands out via minor modifications, mostly to the bumpers.

In the front, we can see the same massive grille that’s wider at the center and slim LED headlamps flanking the upper section. The grille features the same six horizontal slats as seen on the A8, with only the "S8" badge signaling that this is a different model. It’s the bumper that makes the S8 stands out, thanks to the revised side vents that are bigger. It also features revised chrome trim and a slightly sportier splitter.

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The profile is again very similar to the A8. Only three features set it apart: the unique wheel design, the silver mirror caps, and the lowered ride height. In the rear, Audi kept most features unchanged, including the trunk lid spoiler and the thin light bar that runs across the entire width of the fascia. Unique features here include an "S8" badge just under the left-side taillight and a pair of round exhaust pipes on each side of the lower apron.

The 2020 Audi S8 has an all-black interior with few upgrades

The 2020 Audi S8 Has Been Revealed with Mild Hybrid V-8, But Does that Mean More Power?
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There is a red badge on the steering wheel, but it doesn't have a flat bottom

The A8’s interior is as cool as they get. It looks modern, it’s packed with new tech, and features big displays in the center stack and the instrument panel. It would take a great deal of effort to improve it. Luckily, Audi kept things unchanged for the most part, so the S8 is just as elegant as the regular A8. Although the "S" badge is usually associated with sportier Audis, the S8 isn’t a significant departure from the standard design.

There is a red badge on the steering wheel, but it doesn’t have a flat bottom. And the only notable upgrades are a Carbon-Vector dashboard inlay with a special 3D depth effect and a dark, brushed matt aluminum insert. The infotainment and instrument cluster displays also have some custom features, but the overall layout is the same as in the A8.

The 2020 Audi S8 is a mild hybrid with almost 600 horsepower

The 2020 Audi S8 Has Been Revealed with Mild Hybrid V-8, But Does that Mean More Power?
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The new S8 cranks out a solid 571 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque

Audi began adding mild hybrid technologies to some of its cars, and it now included the S8 in this category as well. Fitted with a twin-turbo, 4.0-liter V-8 and a 48-volt belt alternator starter, the S8 cranks out a solid 571 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque.

How does it compare with the A8? Well, it cranks out an extra 231 horses and 221 pound-feet when compared to the gasoline-powered 55 TFSI model, rated at 340 horsepower and 369 pound-feet. When pitted against the diesel-powered 50 TDI, which comes with 286 horses and 443 pound-feet on tap, the S8 adds an extra 285 horses and 147 pound-feet. That’s twice as much horsepower!

The 2020 Audi S8 Has Been Revealed with Mild Hybrid V-8, But Does that Mean More Power?
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The new S8 delivers an extra 51 horses and 111 pound-feet compared to the old model

Compared to old S8, the new-generation sedan cranks out notably more power. The previous S8 also featured a twin-turbo, 4.0-liter V-8, but it didn’t have a 48-volt system. The old mill was rated at 520 horsepower and 479 pound-feet, so the new S8 delivers an extra 51 horses and 111 pound-feet. However, the new S8 isn’t the most powerful of its kind.

The previous-gen A8 also spawned an S8 Plus version. A limited-edition model with extra features and a beefed-up V-8 engine, it hit dealerships with 605 horsepower and up to 553 pound-feet thanks to an overboost function. That’s 34 horses more than the new S8, but it falls behind by 37 pound-feet in the torque department.

As before, the V-8 mill mates to an eight-speed automatic transmission and a permanent Quattro all-wheel-drive system. The new 48-volt system helps save fuel too by enabling coasting with the engine switched off. Audi says that fuel savings reach up to 0.8 liters per kilometer.

The 2020 Audi S8 has a sporty chassis setup

The 2020 Audi S8 Has Been Revealed with Mild Hybrid V-8, But Does that Mean More Power?
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The sport differential actively transfer torque between the rear wheels in order to eliminate understeer and oversteer

Unlike the A8, the S8 comes standard with a sport differential and dynamic all-wheel steering. The latter allows independent adjustment of the steering angles at the front and rear axles, with benefits including a tighter turning circle at low and medium speeds and enhanced stability at high speed. The sport differential actively transfer torque between the rear wheels in order to eliminate both understeer and oversteer.

The 2020 Audi S8 Has Been Revealed with Mild Hybrid V-8, But Does that Mean More Power?
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The S8 is also fitted with predictive active suspension, which works in conjunction with the adaptive air suspension. The system can lift or push down each wheel separately via electromechanical actuators, reducing pitch or roll during acceleration or braking.

Speaking of braking, you can opt to have the S8 equipped with carbon-fiber-ceramic brake discs that measure 16.5 inches in the front and 14.6 inches in the rear.

Further reading

The 2020 Audi S8 Has Been Revealed with Mild Hybrid V-8, But Does that Mean More Power?
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Read our full review on the 2020 Audi S8.

2018 Audi A8 High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Audi A8.

2015 Audi S8 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Read our full review on the 2017 Audi S8.

Ciprian Florea
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read full bio
About the author

order in the UK in the autumn exclusively in standard wheelbase form, first deliveries in late 2019

Ingolstadt, July 2, 2019 – Devotees of luxury travel who don’t always want to take a back seat will welcome the return of the Audi S8, which in its latest iteration combines the rarefied comfort and refinement of the flagship Audi A8 saloon with a bi-turbo V8 petrol engine channelling an impressive 571PS and 800Nm of torque to the road via predictive active suspension, dynamic-all-wheel steering and quattro drive supplemented by a rear sport differential. These advanced systems ensure the plentiful power is as gainfully employed as possible during more challenging driving, and the latest cylinder-on-demand and mild hybrid drivetrain technologies also manage it responsibly when the car is in relaxed, trans-continental cruising mode.

Impressive performance: the engine
As a V8 engine with mild hybrid technology, the high-performance unit in the Audi S8 offers not only maximum smoothness, but with an output of 571PS, 800 Nm (590.0 lb-ft) of torque and two turbochargers also the certainty that ample power is available for any situation.

Iron-lined cylinder barrels in the aluminium crankcase reduce friction for exceptionally smooth running, and for moments when power takes precedence automatically actuated flaps in the exhaust system accentuate the already impressive V8 sound. For the ultimate in comfort, sound intrusion that is less desirable is eliminated by active noise cancellation integrated into the sound system.

The mild hybrid system (MHEV) works continuously to reduce fuel consumption. Its 48-volt belt alternator starter and the additional lithium-ion battery enable coasting with the engine switched off, fast restart and an extended start-stop range. Fuel savings of up to 0.8 litres per 100 kilometres are possible in everyday driving. The cylinder on demand system, which deactivates individual cylinders in low-load operating situations, also helps to moderate fuel consumption wherever possible.

Vehicle dynamics: active suspension, dynamic-all-wheel steering and quattro with sport differential
The unique combination of innovative suspension components enables the S8 to consummately fulfil the role of luxury limousine while also approaching corners with the poise of a sports car. The high-tech predictive active suspension, a standard feature that works in conjunction with the adaptive air suspension, helps the performance flagship to perform its dual role - it can lift or push down each wheel separately via electromechanical actuators, making it possible to actively control the trim of the body in any driving situation for the first time, thereby greatly reducing pitch or roll during acceleration or braking. The front camera, which detects larger road surface irregularities, enables this to be done predictively.

The Audi drive select system – another standard feature – also helps to further enhance the impressive adaptability of the S8. It offers a choice of five operating modes, including a new “Comfort +” profile which makes cornering more comfortable by tilting the body into bends by as much as 3 degrees to reduce the lateral acceleration acting on the occupants.

In “dynamic” mode the S8 turns in tautly. The maximum roll angle during fast cornering is roughly 2.5 degrees compared with around 5 degrees with the standard suspension. The situational distribution of roll moments enables self-steering that is neutral or minimally inclined towards oversteer. The active suspension enables another new function. The body is quickly raised by as much as 50 mm when the door handle is actuated for an even more comfortable entry and exit.

Another system designed to make the S8 feel lighter on its feet is the standard dynamic-all-wheel steering. It allows the independent adjustment of the steering angles at the front and rear axles, thereby facilitating quick and direct steering response and a tight turning circle at low and medium speeds but also supreme stability on the motorway. The factory fitted sport differential actively transfers torque between the rear wheels during fast cornering. When turning into or accelerating in a bend, most is directed to the outside wheel to literally push the car into the corner and eradicate any hint of understeer. In the case of oversteer, the differential transfers the drive torque to the inside wheel to stabilise the S8. The interplay between all these standard systems is unique in the S8’s class and ensures composed and sporty handling in all situations.

Customers keen to reap maximum reward from the engine and advanced chassis technology on a regular basis can also choose high-performance carbon-fibre ceramic brake discs with a diameter of 420 millimetres at the front axle and 370 millimetres at the rear from the option list. The ceramic brakes are internally ventilated, low-wearing and including the callipers are 9.6 kilograms lighter than cast iron discs. Each of the front callipers has ten pistons.

Precise expression of sporty elegance: the design
Bold interior and exterior design elements finely hone the character of the new S8. Details in the front bumper, side sills and the exterior mirror housings as well as the two S-specific twin exhaust tailpipes subtly convey the car’s standing in the model series. Inside a new upper inlay – available exclusively in the Audi S8 – is made of Carbon Vector with a special 3D depth effect. Directly below that is an inlay of dark, brushed matt aluminium. Matrix LED headlights provide exceptional illumination and depth of field as standard, with an upgrade to HD matrix LED headlights with Audi laser light and OLED rear lights available on request.

Progressive and state-of-the-art: the equipment
Every detail of the new Audi S8 reflects its special capabilities. One particular highlight are the standard sport seats, which feature wide ranging power adjustment, pneumatically adjustable side bolsters and separate three-stage heating for each seat. In addition to this, ventilation and massage functions are available. Customers can choose between the top leather grades Valcona and Unikat. The rear seats also offer numerous features for outstanding comfort and provide for a first-class atmosphere in the Audi S8.

The 38 driver assistance systems that Audi provides for the new S8 are divided into the City and Tour packages. The latter is standard for all A8 models in the UK. It includes Adaptive cruise assist – a stand-out feature that combines the functions of adaptive cruise control, traffic jam assist and lane tracking. In combination with predictive efficiency assist, it brakes and accelerates the Audi S8 in anticipation of the conditions ahead. In the City assist package, Audi pre sense side joins the systems pre sense front and pre sense rear to create Audi pre sense 360°. If the system detects an impending side impact, it can operate together with the predictive active suspension to instantly raise the body by as much as 80 millimetres. This brings the sill into a better position to absorb the impact energy, mitigating the potential consequences of the accident for the occupants.

The brain behind the driver assistance systems in the new S8 is a high-performance processing unit, the central driver assistance controller (zFAS). It continuously computes a differentiated model of the vehicle’s surroundings based on the data provided by the sensors. Fully equipped, there are five radar sensors, six cameras, twelve ultrasound sensors and a laser scanner on board.

Digital and intelligent: controls and connectivity
The new Audi S8 offers an appropriately sophisticated infotainment interface with new digital services and state-of-the-art connectivity. The fully digital MMI touch response operating concept enables the driver to control nearly all functions via two large touch screen displays with haptic feedback. The driver can also use natural speech control, which offers virtually unlimited freedom when formulating questions and commands. The answers are provided either from information stored on board or from the cloud. Alexa, Amazon’s cloud-based voice assistant, is also available as an option.

All driving-relevant displays appear in the Audi virtual cockpit, which can be switched between two views. While the tachometer and speedometer are displayed as large dial-type gauges in driving mode, the map is the centre of attention in infotainment mode. Both views have S-specific red graphics. A special S-performance layout for the Audi virtual cockpit where the central focus is the tachometer, displayed as a square graph, and the output and torque are shown as percentages can also be selected in the MMI. The head-up display can display important information on the windscreen.

MMI navigation plus serves as the infotainment and media centre in the new S8. Besides the integration of the Amazon Alexa voice service, the extensive Audi connect range includes a wide variety of car-to-X services that draw on the swarm intelligence of the Audi fleet, including online traffic sign information, hazard alerts and on‑street parking search functionality. The myAudi app connects the car to the customer’s smartphone so that they can easily send destinations to the car from their home computer.

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