Make / Model Search

Car reviews - Audi - A8 - S8

Our Opinion

We like
Packaging, quality, equipment, steering, rear seat comfort, V10 performance
Room for improvement
Fuel economy – but who cares? overly light steering, price

12 Jan 2007

GoAuto 12/01/2007

PEOPLE familiar with the daring 1999 Hollywood thriller Ronan will remember that Audi's S8 had a starring minor role.

It single-handedly lifted the appeal of the German brand's performance division by featuring the S8 in a daring cross-country high-speed chase sequence on the southern coast of France. The chase put the S8 up there with that other great car chase scene from Bullitt, when Steve McQueen drove a Ford Mustang through the streets of San Francisco.

But the Ronan S8 was all class, with precision slides and spectacular jumps but none of the visual brutality of the McQueen Mustang. The Audi's V8 even matched the Mustang for sound effects.

Fast forward to today and the latest-generation Audi S8 delivers an awe-inspiring V10, courtesy of Lamborghini. If Audi seeks to repeat the Ronan experience, this is the car to do it in spades.

It's the same engine that's in the smaller S6 but the S8 has an all-alloy space frame body, weighing just 30kg more than the S6, so there is a negligible impact on performance. It will hit 100km/h in 5.1 seconds and has a governed top speed of 250km/h.

The V10 is at the very heart of the S8. Its light weight construction and precision build means it delivers a rorty, almost mechanical, aural note through the quad exhausts. Despite its uber-luxury status, Audi has managed to let some of that evocative exhaust note seep into the cabin.

Audi has tweaked the V10 a little, with a balancing shaft, FSI direct petrol injection. The engine is lighter and has few friction-generating components than an equivalent 12-cylinder.

The V10 delivers 331kW at 7000rpm and 540Nm at 3500rpm, 11kW more power but the same torque as the S6. About 90 per cent of maximum torque in the S8 is available from just 2300rpm, which means low-speed response is a strong point.

Caress the acceleration and the S8 will surge away, not in a neck-snapping way like a sportscar, but in a big, bold and brash kinda' way as expected of a luxury sports sedan.

Both sedans share the same six-speed tiptronic auto and similar torque split of 40/60 front and rear.

The first-ever V10 from Audi is wonderfully harnessed by a chassis combining adaptive air suspension and adaptive damper control with the latest generation quattro permanent four-wheel-drive system, featuring a standard torque split of 40:60 front/rear, which helps to optimise axle load distribution for even greater agility and steering precision.

However, given the air suspension is based on the sports setting offered in the A8 range, the setup is slightly stiffer and lowers the body by 20mm depending on the chosen setting. The car's ride height can be varied between 125mm and 95mm. The speed dependant Servotronic power steering has also been sharpened by 10 per cent through revisions to the steering ratio.

The S8 has four suspension modes – automatic, comfort, dynamic and lift – which can be accessed through the car’s easy-to-use multi-media interface.

Visually, there are the usual "S" cues that differentiate the S8 from more mundane A8 with the polished alloy-look wing mirrors, discreet front and rear spoilers, quad exhausts, 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, hands free car phone, DVD navigation system and Bang and Olufsen surround sound system with 14 speakers including two tweeters that cheekily pop up near the A-pillars, sunroof, parking sensors and active headlights with LED daytime running lights.

The daytime running lights add just the right amount of purpose to the car’s front end.

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

Although our all-too-brief drive of the S8 could not match the abilities of the Ronan experience, there is evidence to suggest the S8 could be pushed to the maximum without too much trouble and without raising a sweat, such is the reassuring handling and precision brakes.

The quattro all-wheel drive aids this feeling of security and precision. The steering is particular sharp and offers commendable feedback and the front seats offer just the right amount of support.

All the ingredients are there for another best supporting role. Clearly, the latest S8 is set to become another star in the Audi performance lineup.

Click to share

Click below to follow us on
Facebook  Twitter  Instagram

GoAuto can help you buy a new A8

Customer Terms and Conditions – New Car Lead enquires


This is an agreement between GoAutoMedia Pty Limited ACN 094 732 457 of PO Box 18, Beach Road, Sandringham, VIC, 3191 (“we/us”), the owner and operator of the GoAuto.com.au website (“the website”) and the person wanting GoAuto.com.au to provide them with a lead for the purchase of a new car (“you”).

By completing a New Car Lead Enquiry, you agree to the terms and conditions and disclaimers and acknowledge the policies set out below.

Terms and Conditions

  • In order for us to effect a lead you must you must complete a New Car Lead Enquiry (“Enquiry”).
  • We will call you as soon as possible after you complete the Enquiry and certainly no later than the next business day. When we call, we will discuss with you your new car requirements.
  • You consent to our passing on the Enquiry and your requirements to an appropriate authorised motor car dealer as a lead.
  • We will contact you again in approximately eight days following your initial enquiry to check on the progress of the Enquiry.
  • While we will provide the dealer with the Enquiry and details of your new car requirements, we take no responsibility for what happens after passing on that material as a lead.
  • You acknowledge that we are a new car information service providing new car editorial information, pictures and prices to our customers as a guide only. Any new car prices published on the website are the manufacturers’ recommended retail prices and do not include delivery charges and on-road costs. Any authorized motor car dealer to which we pass on your Enquiry as a lead will provide you with full details of the price at which the vehicle will be sold to you.
  • You acknowledge that we do not sell motor vehicles. Any sale of a new car to you by a dealer after we have passed on your Enquiry to that dealer as a lead, is a sale by that dealer not by us.

Privacy Policy– New Car Lead Enquires

  • We take privacy very seriously. We understand that you will only complete an Enquiry if you can trust us to protect your personal information and use it appropriately. Our policy is to ensure that the personal information collected when you make an Enquiry is only used for the purposes of connecting you with an authorised motor car dealer.
  • We do not on-sell information collected from you or any other customer.
  • From time to time, we may email you with information or promotions that may be relevant for car buyers. You will continue to receive communications from us unless you tell us that you do not want to receive any advertising or promotional information in the future by unsubscribing from these communications.
* Denotes required field
** Australian inquiries only

A8 pricing

Motor industry news

GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.

Catch up on all of the latest industry news with this week's edition of GoAutoNews
Click here