Audi manages to wring even more power out of its already formidable luxury super saloon.
By Ghaith Madadha
The car for those who’ve entertained fantasies of Jason Statham-like car chases, the Audi S8 plus is the ultimate high-end luxury getaway car. The S8 Plus is faster and more agile than any of its predecessors appearing in the Transporter film franchise, with a smaller twin-turbo V8 engine boosted by a further 84 BHP over the already swift S8 and lighter than the W12 engine A8. It is a full-size luxury saloon designed for passenger comfort, driver appeal, and outright ability, and has scant few real rivals apart from Mercedes-AMG S-Class iterations.
It is built using light yet stiff aluminum construction, driving all four wheels through Audi’s almost peerless Quattro system and with a discreetly more aggressive take on the model line’s styling. Lighter, more agile, and less ostentatious than its Bentley Flying Spur W12 S cousin, and faster and roomier, more practical, and with better road-holding than the Jaguar XJR, the S8 Plus is the flagship sleeper car for the plutocrat on the move. It is the fastest and safest luxury mode of automotive transport.
The S8 Plus forgoes exaggerated exterior add-ons to shout out its enhanced potential, but instead remains discreet with a nuanced indication of its explosive performance hinted by its vast 21-inch alloy wheels, brake calipers, small rear spoiler, quad tailpipes, and model-exclusive matt silver paint. Front views are dominated by a huge and hungry grille and moody browed LED headlights. Meanwhile, sculpted bodywork features prominent side ridges to lend a grounded stance, while a level waistline projects a more confident formal style, and allows for good driving visibility.
Its relatively small high output 4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine develops 597 BHP at 6100-6800 rpm. Channeled through tenacious Quattro off-the-line traction and with short intake gas-flow paths all but eliminating turbo lag at idle, the results are staggering, with supercar-like 3.8 second 0-100 km/h acceleration and top speed optionally derestricted to 305 km/h. Meanwhile seamless cylinder de-activation and a stop/start system help comparatively modest 10l/100 km combined fuel efficiency.
The S8 Plus is effortlessly versatile and indefatigably capable of higher speed. Slick and swift shifting, its 8-speed automatic gearbox features a more responsive ‘dynamic’ mode, along with individually tailored exhaust, engine, differentials, steering, and damper modes. With engine positioned ahead of the front axle for sure-footed traction, the S8 Plus, however, defies its weighting, with tidy and eager turn-in, owing to active center and rear differentials re-distributing a nominal 40:60 front-to-rear power split to 70 percent frontwards and 85 percent rearwards.
With heroic Quattro road holding, the S8 Plus adapts to prevailing situations and is brutally effective through corners. Entering and exiting at speed, like riding on rails, its torque vectoring brakes the inside wheel for added agility. Steering is meaty, direct, and quick and brakes resiliently effective.
In its element at speed, the S8 Plus is reassuringly stable and refined, with adaptive air dampers providing ride fluency and suppleness in ‘comfort’ mode and tauter body control in ‘dynamic’ mode. It is classy, luxurious, refined, and quiet with noise cancellation tech. Quality materials and textures include rich Alcantara roof lining. Driving position is comfortable and supportive, and rear space generous. A 360° camera further aids good visibility, while exhaustive standard and optional features include four-zone climate control, user-friendly infotainment system with WiFi connectivity, and advanced semi-automated driver-assistance safety systems.
Engine: 4-liter, twin-turbo, in-line V8-cylinders
Gearbox: 8-speed automatic, four-wheel-drive
Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 597 (605)  @6100-6800 rpm
Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 516 (700) @1750-6000 rpm
0-100km/h: 3.8 seconds
Top speed, de-restricted: 305 km/h
Fuel consumption: 10-liters/100 km
Length: 5147 mm
Width: 1949 mm
Height: 1458 mm
Wheelbase: 2994 mm
Weight: 1990 kg
Suspension: Multi-link, adaptive air dampers