This week we look at the 2008 Audi S8 luxury sport sedan in the backyard.
Here is the full review:
Audi S8 swimming in luxury, performance
To best understand the Audi S8 luxury performance sedan, think Olympian Michael Phelps in a tuxedo.
And despite the corporate logo having one fewer ring than the current quadrennial activities in Beijing, Audi is as fierce a German competitor as that female freestyle swimmer who took Dara Torres’ gold medal.
S8 is the sport version of Audi’s flagship A8 luxury liner, a vehicle that offers the maximum performance and refinement in a large European sedan.
As with the A8 counterpart, Audi developed the S8 from an aluminum spaceframe that allows for a lighter yet stronger cockpit – some 50 percent lighter than a comparable steel monocoque.
The benefits of aluminum and aluminum alloys are also utilized in the construction of the strong V-10 engine that will propel the big sedan. Audi touts 450 horsepower and 398 lb. ft. of torque from the FSI direct injection engine whose power is sent to the quattro permanent all-wheel-drive system via a six-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic manual sport-shifting mode.
Normal power distribution of the S8 is 40 percent torque to the front tires and 60 percent to the rear but when wheel slippage is detected, quattro technology can send up to 100 percent drive to just one wheel.
Those wheels, by the way, are custom 20-inch multi-spoke alloy units shod with Z-rated performance rubber. Braking duties are handled by oversized disc units all the way around backed by the latest in ABS and brake assist technology.
The big sedan balances beautifully on the road thanks to an adaptive sport air suspension system that offers driver-adjustable damping for even more fun or refinement.
Other advanced technologies aiding S8 drivers are electronic stability control, electronic differential lock and servotronic power assist steering, although the latter we found to be just a bit soft for true sport application.
While all of the aforementioned systems add up to one very enjoyable driving experience, there is a price to pay – at the pump. The big German only offers 13 mpg city and 19 mpg highway and is saddled with a $2,100 gas guzzler tax up front.
Luxury has not taken a back seat to performance in the S8 – Audi has seen to it that while making for a very enjoyable time behind the wheel, the other seating positions are just as pleasant.
The S8 cabin is quiet and smooth, isolated exceptionally well from harsh environmental elements seeking to disturb the sedan’s occupants.
We enjoyed the protective cocoon the S8 offers save for one thing – we missed the audible experience usually found when exciting a powerful engine into the higher rpm ranges. Audi engineers have nearly eliminated this little pleasure in life due to all of the attention paid to noise reduction in the S8.
The list of standard amenities and comfort and convenience items found in the big Audi is lengthy (as one would expect) and of all the new digital control systems found in state-of-the-art luxury sedans these days, we like Audi’s multi-media interface the best. This system does not take an engineering degree to use and is very intuitive, combining audio, navigation and vehicle system functions into one unit.
Leather adorns most surfaces inside the S8, with dual-tone applications in the seating positions. Where the leather ends (in the dash and instrument panels) carbon fiber trim begins – except of course in the locations occupied by the Bang and Olufsen high-end audio system’s speakers (two of which rise up from the top of the dash adjacent to the A-pillars).
Pricing for the 2008 Audi S8 begins at $93,300 with our loaded tester coming in at more than 115 grand.
From that “big Audi grin” that greets you up front to the sporty dual twin exhaust tips at the rear, the S8 harmonizes premium performance with uber-luxury in a sedan package worthy of champions – Olympic or otherwise.