I can’t think of anything this Audi needs. It’s been fortified with the lot. It’s got pace in abundance, is luxurious and comes loaded with tech. It even has the word ‘Plus’ in its name to ram home the point. It’s the most powerful limousine in the premium segment. If anything, with a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 making 596bhp under the bonnet, you’ll be the one needing something – new trousers. This thing is fast.
With 750Nm of torque at its disposal, the S8 Plus dispatches the 0-100kph sprint in an incredible 3.8 seconds. Top speed can reach 305kph if you add the optional Dynamic Package. That is supercar territory (it sounds like one, too; the V8 rumbles with real intent – even at idle) and it got there by having its ECU tweaked and adjusting speed and charge pressure boost to the modified exhaust valves. The turbocharger was optimised for efficiency (the S8 Plus has a claimed fuel efficiency of 10 litres per 100km) but it isn’t just the performance figures that are impressive.
Audi has gone to great lengths for this model to produce the goods, such as shaving 231kg off the body, which is made almost entirely of aluminium. Based on the Audi Space Frame (ASF), it is the lightest amongst its rivals – also 40 per cent lighter than a corresponding steel body – and although the S8 Plus tips the scales at 1,990kg, the mass of the handsome saloon does not transpire in the drive.
In fact, I’d even call this German tank agile. Bear with me, I’ve not gone mad, because with a properly slick eight-speed automatic transmission sending power to all four corners (the quattro drivetrain, with sport differential, has a 60:40 rear-wheel bias and you can try to stick the tail out but, alas, it’s pointless as it raps your knuckles for trying) this car darts from left to right with a mere flick of the steering wheel (it has paddle shifters but it’s best to let the car do all the work). It’s as if the front end seeks out the corners and tackles them with gusto with nary a hint of slip or slide. So it isn’t long before you’re tossing it at pace into the bends like you would, say, a smaller RS 4 and feeling just as impressed by it. Granted, it’s not as chuckable, but it’s not that far off either.
There is simply so much traction here that trying to unsettle it is near impossible. It holds the road ever so well and is as composed as can be. It’s incredibly fast down the straights and doesn’t shirk its shoulders when shown a set of corners. Road imperfections? What road imperfections? You’ll think the black top is made of cotton while cruising along at 100kph in this flagship. You have the adaptive air suspension with five modes to select from to thank for that. In Dynamic mode the throttle response will leave you wide-eyed. It’s almost instantaneous. Good job then that the brakes – carbon-ceramics measuring a massive 420mm with eight-piston callipers at the front and 370mm with four-piston callipers at the back – provide excellent stopping power.
The S8 Plus sure knows how to induce a rather big grin when you mash the throttle, but chances are you’ll have a wry smile the moment you set eyes on it. It looks suitably understated, with the only giveaway to its performance being the carbon fibre spoiler, blade on the front apron and side-view mirror housings also made from the magical weave. At the front, the grille is finished in gloss black (with matte black trim), and at the back it has a gloss black diffuser and dual sports exhaust tips. The badge count remains low; S8 logos at the front and rear, V8 T badges on front fenders.
Our tester’s cabin features soothing Valcona black leather, piano black accents, Alcantara and brushed aluminium trim throughout. Audi has been building some of the best interiors for years and it’s the same case here. There is plenty of leg- and headroom for front- and back-seat passengers, with the seats (ventilated with massage function and 22-way adjustment up front) offering lots of comfort and support. The Arras red stitching makes for a nice contrast and hints at the performance it offers.
It’s loaded with tech and includes ambient lighting, head-up display, park assist system with 360-degree camera, four-zone deluxe automatic air conditioning, Bose surround-sound system and MMI Navigation Plus with MMI touch.
It looks great and is absolutely loaded, but really, the S8 Plus is all about power and with so much on offer, you can’t help but be taken aback when you put your foot down. Has Ingolstadt gone overboard? Yes, however, it had to when the S 63 AMG is blessed with a 5.5-litre biturbo V8 making more torque. But there’s a problem. There isn’t a road in the region where I can even get close to experiencing the full fury of this Audi. And then it dawns on me. The only thing this S8 Plus needs is the Autobahn…