The Audi S8, which will be launched on the market in spring 2012, is the new head of the Audi S model family – a large, luxurious sedan of supreme power. The new 4.0 TFSI in the S8 generates no less than 382 kW (520 hp) and delivers a constant 650 Nm (479.42 lb-ft) of torque to the crankshaft between 1,700 and 5,500 rpm. The result is outstanding performance: The sprint from zero to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) takes just 4.2 seconds, and top speed is electronically capped at 250 km/h (155.34 mph).
This makes the fuel consumption of the sonorous and smooth twin-turbo V8 all the more amazing: It averages just 10.2 liters per 100 km (23.06 US mpg), much less than its competitors. The free-breathing, 5.2-liter V10 in the previous model consumed an average of 13.2 liters per 100 km (17.82 US mpg). Fuel consumption decreased by nearly 23 percent despite a 51 kW (70 hp) increase in output.
Behind the top value for the new Audi S8 are the combined technologies of the Audi modular efficiency platform, including the recuperation and start-stop systems. The newly developed “cylinder on demand” technology plays a particularly large role. Under part load, it deactivates four of the eight cylinders for an efficiency gain that is particularly pronounced at moderate highway speeds. A package of acoustic measures including the Active Noise Cancellation system suppresses possible intrusive noise and vibrations.
The eight-speed tiptronic in the S8 also unites sportiness and efficiency. It uses tall gears at low revs whenever possible, but downshifts quickly and comfortably when requested by the driver. The tiptronic delivers the power to a quattro drivetrain combining a self-locking center differential with the sport differential at the rear axle. During dynamic driving, the lion’s share of the power flows to the outside wheel to literally push the large sedan into the corner.
The new Audi S8 also pulls out all the stops when it comes to the chassis. One of its features is a specially tuned adaptive air suspension with variable damping, which can vary the ride height of the body between three levels and thus ensures a wide-ranging driving experience. It harmonizes perfectly with the dynamic steering, also standard, that adapts its steering ratio and boost to the vehicle’s speed. It uses slight, nearly imperceptible steering corrections to stabilize handling at the cornering limit.
The Audi drive select dynamics system encompasses these two systems as well as engine management, the eight-speed tiptronic and the sport differential. The driver can determine the function of these components by choosing between the five modes comfort, auto, dynamic, individual and efficiency.
The standard, S-specific wheels measure 9 J x 20 and are shod with 265/40-series tires. Audi offers five additional wheels as options, four of which have a 21-inch diagonal. The four internally ventilated disc brakes measure 400 millimeters (15.75 in) in diameter up front and 365 millimeters (14.37 in) at the rear. The matt black calipers up front bear S8 logos. Each of the optional carbon fiber-ceramic discs saves over five kilograms (11 lb) of weight. Their calipers are anthracite gray. The ESP stabilization program includes a sport mode, in which engine output is determined solely by the position of the pedals.
A decisive advantage of the S8 is the comparatively low weight of 1,975 kilograms (4,354.13 lb). The luxury sedan’s ASF (Audi Space Frame) body is made almost entirely of aluminum. Only the B-pillars are made of ultra high-strength steel. The body weighs just 231 kilograms (509.27 lb); a conventional steel construction would be around 100 kilograms (220.46 lb) heavier. The Audi ultra-lightweight construction allows weight to be reduced in other areas as well, such as the chassis.
Fine design details signal the special position that the 5.15 meter-long (16.90 ft) S8 occupies in the Audi range. The single-frame grille is platinum gray and its eight double bars are covered in chrome. An aluminum-look blade makes the bumper appear sharper, and there are high-gloss black slats and aluminum-look ribs in the side air intakes.
On the sides, body color trim strips on the sills, door handles with strips of aluminum and polished aluminum-look mirror housings catch the eye. The diffuser insert at the back of the car includes a blade with a two-layer aluminum-look finish offset with parts in platinum gray. The exhaust system ends in two oval dual tailpipes in a chrome-look finish.
S8 or V8 T badges can be found in the front, on the back and on the sides. The color range includes 13 shades, two of which – Daytona Gray and Prism Silver – are reserved for the S8.
The interior shines with craftsman-like fit and finish and small yet effective accents. The multi-way, power-adjustable comfort sport seats have been designed exclusively for the S8. They are optionally available with exclusive seat upholstery in quilted lunar silver. The stitching and piping are in contrasting steel gray, while the upper inlays on the instrument panel and tiptronic selector lever present the material Carbon Atlas.
The leather multifunction sport steering wheel has color-contrasting stitching and an S8 emblem, which can also be found on the instruments. Typical of the Audi S models, these have gray dials with white needles – a design which is repeated in the classic analogue clock. The illuminated door sill trims with the S8 logo are a further eye-catcher. The display of the driver information system and the MMI monitor greet the driver with special S8 screens. The shift paddles and pedals are in an aluminum-look finish; a red ring frames the start button.
The S8 offers a wide selection of interior colors, inlays and seat upholstery. These include particularly soft Valcona leather and seats with ventilation and massage functions. The leather package, a DVD changer, the convenience key with sensor-controlled lock for the trunk and the ambient lighting package round out the list of standard interior equipment. The Audi S8 is also equipped with the innovative LED headlights and double glazing.
Beyond the generous standard equipment, Audi makes all of the high-end options from the A8 series available in the new S8. The driver assistance systems, which are closely networked with one another and the navigation system, are particularly innovative.
The core of these is the adaptive cruise control system with stop & go function; others include Audi side assist, Audi lane assist, the speed limit display and the night vision assistant with highlighting of detected pedestrians.
Supplementing these technologies is the safety system Audi pre sense, which is available in a number of versions. A new break recommendation function uses steering motions and additional parameters to detect if the driver is getting tired and issues an appropriate warning.
New to the A8 family is the parking system with 360° camera. Four small cameras record images of the sedan’s immediate surroundings and a computer splices them together. The driver can call up a variety of views on the MMI monitor, including a virtual top-down view. The system enhances safety while maneuvering and in narrow driveways. Special views allow the driver to see cross-traffic.
The MMI navigation plus, which comes standard, represents the state-of-the-art in infotainment systems. It includes the groundbreaking MMI touch input system, a large hard drive and a high-resolution 8-inch display. The high-end system can be combined with the likewise standard Bluetooth online car phone, which brings special Internet services to the car and provides WLAN connectivity for mobile devices.
The Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System with its 1,400 watt amplifiers and 19 speakers impresses with its amazing sound.