Audi S8 2014 review

19 Nov, 2013 5:15pm Luke Madden

Audi S8 now comes with updated technology, a faster 0-62mph sprint time and a price that's £30k less than Merc S63 AMG


The Audi S8 remains the blisteringly quick and ultra-refined flagship that it always has been, but now with updated technology and a price that looks better value than ever. Neither the handling nor the ride comfort is best in this class, but anyone opting for an S8 over any of its rivals certainly won’t be disappointed.

When Audi refreshed its A8 limousine, it also took the chance to give the flagship 513bhp S8 an overhaul.

Like the rest of the A8 line-up, the S8 gets a mildly updated design featuring some new headlights, redesigned bumpers and a new chrome strip across the bootlid. New MatrixBeam LED headlamps – which can essentially keep full beam lights on at all times – are standard on the S8.

Underneath, the changes are pretty minimal, but despite the same engine output, minor tweaks have cut the 0-62mph time from 4.2 seconds to 4.1 seconds. That is ludicrously fast – it’s as quick as an Aston Martin Vanquish, in fact – but in the S8 it’s so smooth and quiet that you can be doing 100mph before you’ve even noticed.

Audi S8 in-depth review

As the sportiest member of the A8 family, the S8 does get sports adaptive air suspension, variable steering and a sports differential. As a result it the S8 feels extremely nimble – especially in Dynamic mode – cutting through tight corners with all the agility of a car half its size. If you want the best-handling car in the class, then the Jaguar XJR takes the spoils, but the S8 comes close – it’s only let down by numb steering, which prevents you getting involved in the action.

With that slightly firmer suspension set-up and the S8’s standard 20-inch wheels, you’d expect the ride to suffer, but set everything to Comfort and you can breeze along as you would in any other A8. The S63 AMG sets a new benchmark for ride quality in this class, but by any other marker, the S8 is extremely comfortable.

Price won’t be the first concern to buyers, but it does represent good value. It’s quicker than the S63 AMG but costs just £79,800, while the Merc costs £119,565 – though that is for a long-wheelbase car, while the S8 only comes in standard wheelbase form.

Audi A8 review

The Audi has plenty of kit, too, with 22-way adjustable leather seats, Google Earth sat-nav, a wi-fi hotspot, and a 360-degree camera system to help parking.

So while there may be more fun and more comfort to be found elsewhere in this class, the S8 is worth a look, especially as it will save you £10,000 over a Jaguar XJR and £30,000 over the Mercedes S63 AMG.

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At least it can be used in inclement weather year round, along with the S 63, thanks to 4 wheel drive. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the XJR.

so, it handles better than the S63 & rides better than the XJR...I'll take one in black.

With the level of luxury and kit and 513 bhp, you have to laugh at the 4 star rating, for a car like this. These days any car in this class is a cut above and in the real world is easily 5 stars.
This car is 40 k more than an m3, which puts it in perspective.
When you think most of the uk drives around in 3 series and mondeos, which are good cars in their own right.

The performance numbers ( and power ratings) are seriously conservative. US car magazines have measured the S8 doing 0-60 in 3.8 and embarrassing all the "pony" cars over there.

Take into account the fact you can easily get £20k or more off the list price, and you're getting an awful lot of power and kit for your money. Shame about the dull steering feel and the slightly unresolved ride, which have plagued the A8 since forever. A £20k Mk7 Golf rides and steers better.....

Key specs

  • Price: £79,900
  • Engine: 4.0-litre V8 twin-turbo
  • Power: 513bhp
  • Transmission: Eight-speed auto, four-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 4.2 seconds
  • Top speed: 155mph (limited)
  • Economy: 29.4mpg
  • CO2: 225g/km
  • Equipment: 22-way adjustable leather seats, wi-fi hotspot, climate control, parking cameras
  • On sale: Now

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