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Car reviews - Audi - A8 - S8 sedan

Launch Story

Audi logo12 Jan 2007

By LUC BRITTEN

BY anyone's account, 2006 was a good year for Audi.

Globally it has had its 13th record sales year in a row with more than 900,000 cars sold in 2006.

Locally sales were up 20 per cent over 2005 and it finished the year with more than 5770 sales. Its quest for 2007 is more double digit growth.

So on the back of this good report card, the company added some Christmas spice to the lineup with the arrival of the RS4 Avant, S6 and S8.

And if a V10 engine is good enough for the S6, then it’s good enough for the $259,900 S8.

Like the S6, Audi has tweaked and re-engineered the Lamborghini Gallardo V10 for service in the uber-limousine all-aluminium space frame A8 and given its unladen weight is just 30kg more than the S6, the big sedan exhibits similar degrees of performance to its smaller sibling.

The V10 is at the very heart of the S8.

With 331kW at 7000rpm and 540Nm at 3500rpm, 11kW more power but the same torque as the S6. Both share the same six-speed tiptronic auto and similar torque split of 40/60 front and rear.

The S8's all-alloy body means the bigger sedan will still sprting to 100km/h in 5.1 seconds and effortlessly reach its governed top speed of 250km/h.

Like the A8 the S8 relies on its sophisticated adaptive air suspension, including an adaptive damper control and aluminium chassis components.

However, given the S8's sportier pretentions, the setup is slightly stiffer and lowers the body by 20mm depending on the chosen mode. The car's ride height can be varied between 125mm and 95mm.

There are four settings – automatic, comfort, dynamic and lift – which can be accessed through the car's easy-to-use multi-media interface.

The steering too has a more direct ratio, by 10 per cent, for more precise handling.

Visually, the S8 has alloy-look wing mirrors, discreet front and rear spoilers, quad exhaust system, 20-inch alloys and massive brakes, including the option of ceramic front and rear stoppers for a cool $20,000.

Apart from their higher performance, ceramic brakes last for up to 300,000km and weigh 50 per cent less than steel equivalents.

Audi adopts modest visual tweaks for the S8 with the door sills adorned with "S8" badging, interior inlays of brushed aluminium and carbon fibre.

The multi-function sports steering wheel has paddle shifters while there is an electro-mechanical parking brake.

As befits a range-topper, the S8 has lashings of leather, climate control, cruise control, electric front sports seats, double-glazed windows, rear seat heating, auto dipping rear view mirror and folding exterior mirrors, keyless go, handsfree car phone, DVD navigation system and Bang and Olufsen surround sound system with 14 speakers including two alloy-look tweaters that cheekily pop up near the A-pillars, sunroof, parking sensors and active headlights with LED daytime running lights.

Apart from the optional ceramic brakes there is also adaptive cruise control ($6400) and a rear seat entertainment package including DVD ($12,000).

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