Apart from the luxurious limousine, Audi provided also an S-treatment for its flagship sedan model. The carmaker aimed it directly at the Mercedes-AMG S-Class.
Unlike its main competitor, the S8 was available either with a standard or a long wheelbase. That made it a mix of performance and luxury. And it showed both in every detail.
When Audi refreshed the fourth generation of the A8 in 2021, it didn't abandon the S8 model. The 2021 version sported a piano-black front fascia with a fish-net-like grille. It was a bold move in times when everyone else used hexagonal, honeycomb-style elements. Also, it used the same shiny dark areas for the side scoops and the lower part of the front bumper. In addition, the car's designers added carbon-fiber-looking caps for the rearview mirrors, enhancing the sporty image. A discreet lip-spoiler adorned the trunk lid at the back, while on the lower side, the four oval exhausts sported a chromed finish flanking the center diffuser.
While the regular A8 was focused more on the rear-seat passengers, the S8 was centered around the driver's needs. Sure, the seats were also comfortable, but their higher bolstering areas provided more lateral support. Like its non-S sibling, the car featured digital displays on the center stack and a TFT Audi Virtual Cockpit for the instrument panel. The latter could be configured according to the driver's needs and preferences.
Under the hood, Audi installed a twin-turbo V8 helped by an ISG (integrated starter-generator) to reduce the turbo-lag. Moreover, its standard all-wheel-drive and adaptive suspension helped the vehicle during hard acceleration and on high-speed cornering.
The A8 is the top model of Audi's luxury sedans and one of the most appreciated luxury limousines all over the world. It's a luxury limousine perfect for those who want the finest comfort and a powerful car. But the S8 is even better, the quickest version of Audi's A8 limo. The S8 is one of the best alternatives and one of the main rivals of the BMW 750Li.
What's new about the design? It's an almost restyled car. Audi managed to combine beauty, luxury and sport by making one car. The front lights and tail lights are all-digital. The specific Digital Matrix system on Vorsprung Models is also available. At the rear, the tail-light graphic is worn broadly, with a connecting light strip bar across the boot lid.
The interior, as you expect from an S8, must be high-tech with high-quality materials, and it is. Audi combines traditional luxury, wood, and leather with modern technology. Everything is made from fine materials and equipped with all manner of luxury options, such as front and rear massaging seats, a foot warmer for rear-seat passengers, and individual entertainment tablets in the back.
Nearly all features in the cabin are controlled via various touchscreens, and the commands are intuitive to use. Next-level tech extra equipment such as night vision and a remote-parking mode are available. Space inside is very generous, door openings are generous too, especially for rear-seat passengers, entry and exit being quite easy. The Executive Rear Seat Comfort package adds extra legroom for the right rear passenger, possibly moving the front seat well forward, exposing a footrest in the seatback.
Performance is noticeable, even for a big luxury limousine. The Audi sports DNA will give you plenty of power to travel fast enough to reach your business meetings. With 571 horsepower and 800 Nm (590 lb-ft) of torque on tap, sent to all four-wheel through a Quattro all-wheel-drive system, the sporty luxury sedan can hit 100 kph (62 mph) from a standing start in just 3.8 seconds.
Even though it also helps performance during spirited driving, the mild-hybrid 48-volt system actually works continuously to reduce fuel consumption, with up to 0.8 liters per 100 kilometers in fuel saving being possible thanks strictly to the system. The setup uses a 48-volt belt alternator starter and an additional lithium-ion battery. The braking system is truly high-performance, with the optional carbon-fiber brake.
An Audi S8 would be a lot to talk about. It's beautifully finished, rides smoothly, and has impressive performance. It's a car that does so much and makes it worth every dollar spent. If driving, it will make you feel like Jason Statham in the Transporter movie. If you want to get somewhere fast and safe without drawing great attention, the S8 is one of the best cars businessmen often target.
The horsepower war in Europe made Audi create the S8 in 1996 and surprised its main competitors, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, with a limousine that provided sports car performance.
In 2013, Audi refreshed the entire A8 lineup and unveiled it at the Frankfurt Motor Show, and along with that, it launched the fourth generation of the S8. This real athlete wore a tuxedo with some shiny buttons on it. While it looked similar to the rest of the range, it featured some specific details, but none were in-your-face looking. Since it was one of the most expensive versions among its siblings, it also came well-equipped with advanced features and amenities to make its occupants feel spoiled even when it was driven at a high rate of speed.
The refreshed Audi A8 lineup gained LED headlights with an option for Matrix LEDs, which were also available for the S8. Its daytime running lights were incorporated into each headlamp, underlining the main lamps in a unique pattern. Between them, the S8 sported the same massive singleframe grille, as Audi called it. Still, unlike its siblings, this super-powered version featured seven twin-blade horizontal slats. Lower, in the apron, the car featured a slim splitter flanked by the scoops for the fog lamps. Last but not least, a tiny S8 red and silver badge adorned the grille.
From its profile, the full-size executive sedan differentiated itself from the rest of the A8 range thanks to the big 20” light alloy wheels with a five twin-spoke design. But just like any other S vehicle from Audi, the S8 featured satin-chromed door mirror caps. Another particular element was the V8 T badge on the front fenders, tiny enough to pass unnoticed by an untrained eye. Finally, at the back, the double twin-exhaust oval pipes flanked a satin-chromed diffuser that was mounted underneath the bumper. As a final touch, Audi installed another S8 badge on the trunk’s lid.
Inside, the S8 greeted its customers with unique sports seats wrapped in leather, and customers had the option to get diamond-stitching on them for an even more luxurious appearance. The driver fronted a clean-designed instrument cluster where the speedometer and tachometer flanked a small color display that showed additional information from the car’s onboard computer. An S8 badge adorned the tachometer. In the back, Audi installed a bench seat for three passengers, although the middle-seated one had to cope with the big hump on the floor for the transmission tunnel. The middle side of the seatback could fold down and serve as an armrest.
Under the hood was a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged powerplant that could run in four-cylinder mode at constant speeds for better fuel efficiency. To dampen vibrations, the automaker added active engine mounts and an active noise-canceling system inside the cabin. The result was a much quicker and more efficient vehicle than the previous V10-powered Audi S8. Furthermore, the 2013 S8 featured an eight-speed automatic transmission, not a six-speed one like its predecessor.
While the Mercedes-Benz had the AMG division that took care of its performance S-Class models, Audi offered the S models for its vehicles. The 2012 Audi S8 was the fastest A8 in the range.
The surge for more power got the Audi to ditch the former Lamborghini V10 unit in favor of a newly developed, twin-turbo, V8 engine. With massive investments into research and development, the 2012 Audi S8 was more powerful, and faster than its predecessor.
The Audi S8 had a distinctive look from the outside. But it didn't feature flamboyant fender flares or some crazy wings in the back. It featured the same big grille as the rest of its range, but with double-chromed lines on each slat instead of single chromed. The rearview mirrors had silver cases, that looked like aluminum. In the back, there were four tailpipes and a diffuser between them.
Inside, it was a luxurious Audi A8 with all the comfort features as the rest of its siblings. Only the more luxurious A8 W12 had more than the S8, but only S8 had sport-bucket seats for the front occupants. A new infotainment unit was on the dashboard with a retractable mode so it won't bother the view.
Under the hood there was the 4.0-liter V8 engine with the turbochargers between the engine banks to decrease the turbo-lag. For the economic running mode, the engine could run in four cylinders. The standard transmission was an 8-speed automatic by ZF. As usual for any S-range model, it featured the quattro all-wheel-drive system from Audi.
Audi didn't rush with the second generation of the S8 nameplate and unveiled it only in late 2005 as a 2006 model year, but the wait was worth it.
The first generation of the S8 was an immense success, and the German automaker considered continuing the moniker with the second generation of the A8 that was launched in 2002. Still, it didn't want to rush a new model on the market. It took time and studies to convert the automaker's flagship into a fierce supercar contender, but with four doors and all the luxury of a limousine.
With the facelifted version, the second generation of the A8 lineup has received the singleframe-grille showcased on the Audi Nuvolari concept car. If that looked fine on the lesser-powered vehicles, on the S8, it looked spot-on. In addition, the chromed vertical slats and the three lower air-intakes made the car looks aggressive, something that didn't happen with other German luxury cars. Moreover, the large 20" light-alloy wheels confirmed the fact that the S8 was not the kind of executive vehicle meant just to drive a CEO from A to B in a calm way. It looked like a vehicle built to travel at high rates of speed on the German Autobahn highway system.
Inside, the front seats featured high-bolstered areas that supported their occupants during high-speed cornering maneuvers. At the same time, in the back, the bench was profiled for two, even though the car was available with three headrests (depending on the options). Despite the vehicle's sporty abilities, the S8 didn't lack luxurious amenities such as standard leather upholstery or a custom premium sound system.
Under the hood, Audi installed a V10, direct fuel-injected engine developed together with Lamborghini. In full song, the massive powerplant developed 450 PS (433 hp), and it could rev up to 7,000 rpm. Power was sent in all corners via a six-speed automatic transmission.
Up until the Audi S8, there was no such a thing as performance limousines. Sure, BMW and Mercedes-Benz already had powerful versions for the 7 Series and the S-Class, respectively, but not as sport-oriented as the S8 in 1996. But just three years later, Audi improved the performance of its flagship model.
By 1999, Audi was already recognized as a premium brand, and it tried to surprise its main competitors. While it couldn't boast the same luxurious appearance as the rear-wheel driven Mercedes-Benz and BMW, it could prevail with the all-wheel drive technology. But the S8 was a different kind of animal, and based on the 1996 model-year success, the refreshed version dared even more.
Apart from the gray and red tiny badge on the black front grille, the S8 sported silver-painted door mirrors. Also, the Avus-style, six-spoke wheels were unique for the performance-oriented vehicle. A chromed trim surrounded both front grilles. There was nothing to reveal the difference at the back, apart from the S8 badge. The dual exhaust was just as mundane as the one from the base A8 model.
The cabin, on the other hand, was not that subtle anymore. The leather-wrapped interior with high-bolstered bucket seats at the front and a bench profiled for two passengers stood apart from the rest of the A8 range. There was also an S8 badge on the steering wheel.
Under the hood, Audi placed an improved version of the 4.2-liter V8 powerplant from the 1996 model. It featured new five-valves, cylinder heads, and 20 more ponies on tap. Moreover, the six-speed manual, which was still available in specific markets, was complemented by a five-speed automatic transmission that provided the option for sequential gear changes named Tiptronic by Audi.
Audi already stepped up its game and challenged BWM and Mercedes-Benz in all segments but dared even more than its competitors when it introduced the S8.
The hottest version of the A8 range appeared on the market in 1996, and it was a stunning marketing move. Even though its main rivals already had more powerful engines than what Audi provided underneath the S8's hood, those were not exactly sporty. Those were just big barges with big powerplants. But the S8 was more than that. It was a sports car with four doors and the luxury of an executive sedan, competing against the British Jaguar XJR.
Audi was very good at hiding the car's performance. The S8's exterior looked almost identical to a regular A8, albeit there were a few differences. Still, only a trained eye would have spotted those. For starters, there was a tiny little gray and red badge on the grille that said "S8." From its profile, the automaker installed a specific set of light alloy wheels, named Avus, after the carmaker's 1991 concept car. On the profile, the bystanders could have noticed the silver door mirrors' caps, which were unique to the S8. At the back, the car sported the same dual exhaust pipes with chromed tips as any other mundane A8.
The interior was a different story. Audi struggled to offer a cabin filled with amenities such as high-bolstered bucket seats. Leather upholstery and automatic climate control were standard. Moreover, the S8 featured a standard navigation system, although its indications were shown on a small TFT display between the tachometer and speedometer.
But the most significant change was under the hood, where a pumped-up 4.2-liter V8 delivered 340 PS (335 HP) to a standard six-speed manual gearbox with an option for a five-speed automatic (Tiptronic). Moreover, the S8 had a lowered suspension by 20 mm (4") than the regular A8 and a stiffer suspension.