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Driven: Audi’s fast-track S8 Plus flies in

S bend: The S8 Plus will sell alongside the standard S8, but commands a nearly $50,000 premium over its slightly more sedate twin.

Audi’s S8 gets a power boost to tackle AMG and BMW's incoming M-badged 7 Series

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Audi logo14 Apr 2016

By STUART MARTIN

AUDI Australia has launched its fastest and most powerful S model ever – the S8 Plus – that will carry a $50,000 premium over its slightly less frenetic S8 super-sedan twin.

Set to go head to head with the incoming V12-powered BMW M760Li and the more established Mercedes-AMG S-Class variants and Jaguar XJR, the new S8 Plus takes the drivetrain from the updated RS6 and RS7 into battle against its performance sedan rivals.

Audi Australia managing director Andrew Doyle believes the brand and its S and RS performance variants that now sit under the Audi Sport banner, represent a growing slice of the sales pie for the German car-maker, which has “come of age as an aspirational brand”.

“We've come a long way in the last 10 years, when quattro GMbH produced only one model range at a time,” he said.

“The Audi S8 Plus offers a very rare combination of advanced technology, interior excellence and understated performance that will appeal to highly successful professionals, who place great importance on driving enjoyment.” The new Plus variant takes the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 (with its turbos and exhausts within the ‘V’) also doing service in the RS6 Avant and puts it to work in the executive express, pricing the S8 Plus from $330,500 excluding on-road costs alongside the ‘standard’ S8 that wears a $280,610 price-tag.

Peak power of 445kW is available between 6100 and 6800rpm (up from 382kW at 5800rpm), with torque of 700Nm on offer from 1750 through to 6000rpm, a 50Nm increase over the standard S8.

An additional 50Nm is available through the overboost function for short bursts between 2500 and 5500rpm, all of which is enough to bring the 0-100km/h sprint time down over the standard S8 by 0.3 of second to 3.8s, with a governed top speed of 250km/h.

BMW is bringing its M760Li xDrive to Australia, sporting a forced-induction 6.6-litre V12 offering 448kW and 800Nm, an eight-speed auto, all-wheel drive and a sprint to 100km/h in just under four seconds.

Mercedes-Benz already has the S63 AMG here, priced from $386,910 and boasting 430kW and 900Nm, as does Jaguar with its $300,275 XJR offering 404kW and 680Nm – both claim a 0-100km/h time in low fours.

The automatic transmission is an eight-speed unit that even uses intel from the Audi Connect Google Map based sat-nav to predict what gear changes are required, based on driving patterns and available mapping of the route.

Audi's quattro all-wheel drive system defaults to a slight rear bias of 60 per cent but can run up to 85 per cent of drive to the rear, with the sport rear differential delivering active torque vectoring.

The kerb weight is 2065kg – despite having a body made almost entirely of aluminium, weighing in at 231kg and claimed as the lightest of its competitive set – and the lab-derived fuel economy has risen by 0.6 of a litre to 10.2 litres per 100km.

The powerplant sits on active engine mounts and uses active noise cancelling technology within the vehicle’s sound system to further quell unwanted noise, particularly when the engine drops four of its eight cylinders to save fuel.

The Plus edition is also set apart by high gloss black exterior (including gloss exhaust tips for the standard sports exhaust system) and carbon-fibre exterior and interior highlights for the already-sumptuous cabin, which is fully-clad in Valcona leather, carbon-fibre inlays (with a red twill) and red contrast stitching and piping for the trim, as well as a headliner and rear parcel shelf all covered in Alcantara.

Among the other standard features are in-car Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth, digital TV and radio reception, massaging, heated and ventilated front seats, powered opening and closing bootlid, power-folding, adjustable and heated auto-dimming exterior mirrors, sunroof, auto-dimming interior mirror, electric sunblinds for rear and side back windows, quad-zone climate control and ambient interior lighting.

Also standard on the S8 Plus is a Bose 14-speaker 600-watt surround sound system and the matrix LED headlight system that Audi claims can drop high beam for as many as eight other road users as part of more than 960 million lighting combinations, as well as taking instruction from the nav system as to where the road goes and which way the adaptive system should prepare to point the lighting.

Other safety highlights include active lane and blind-spot warning systems, the 360-degree view camera system, auto parking, adaptive cruise control with Stop&Go function, the pre sense plus accident prep system and a head-up display.

Five-mode adjustable and adaptive air suspension is also standard fare for the S8 plus, which adjusts the ride height in accordance with comfort, auto or dynamic modes and controls the 21-inch matte-finish alloy wheels.

Options include lifting the top speed to 305km/h, installing $23,100 worth of bigger ceramic brakes, a $14,500 1400-watt 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System, double-glazed windows for $4390, rear seat heaters (for outboard seats) at $2350, special-order Florett silver matte paint for $14,000 and night vision for $5970, which has the highlighting of detected pedestrians.

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