So you’re in your new golf club, trying to schmooze the relevant big knobs but so far you just haven’t, um, measured up. Your house doesn’t have enough bedrooms, your wife’s face isn’t plastic enough and, worst of all, your handicap is a joke. But you have an ace up your sleeve so you bide your time until the conversation turns to cars. S600? V12. Nice. 750iL. Tut tut. So dull. Oh, someone’s got an S63 AMG. There’s even a Bentley in the group. And you? An S8. Eyes dart about the room. Someone asks, ‘what’s an S8?’ Why, you explain, it’s an Audi A8 with a Lamborghini engine. Silence. Checkmate.
That’s not the only reason to buy an S8, of course. The other is the engine. Forget the power and the torque and all that hoo-ha! Trust me, it’s very, very fast by ordinary car standards and we’ve-just-been-rear-ended-by-Concorde fast compared to most other luxury cars. As I whoosh along the autobahn at silly speeds the V10 is cultured and quiet and boringly civilised. But stand on the loud pedal and it bellows like no engine I’ve ever heard before in any saloon of any type. From inside it sounds like you’ve kidnapped Thor, tied him up and dumped him in the engine bay and standing on the accelerator is like prodding him in the ribs. From outside, it’s more akin to someone throwing gravel at a jet engine. It’s a ﬁtting soundtrack for the fascinating IMAX show in which you charge at the horizon in a rocket-propelled armchair. Explosive engine aside, the S8 is really just a spruced up A8 with tasty 20-inch wheels; 18-inch brakes (ceramics are optional); ﬁrmer adaptive suspension (agile but still comfy); sports seats; some subtle appearance tweaks and a full complement of executive toys like sat nav, Bose speakers and swivelling xenon headlamps. It’s just about enough to get noticed but not so much it makes you look like you’re trying too hard which, all-in-all, seals the S8’s status as about the best darn luxury car I’ve ever driven, Bentleys and Maseratis included. And you can quote that to your golf chums as well, if you want.
Engine 5.2-litre V10, 450hp, 540Nm torque
Transmission 6-speed auto, quattro AWD
Acceleration 0-100km/h 5.1 seconds
Top speed 250 km/h (limited)
Economy 13.4 litres/100km
CO2 Emissions 319 g/km
Weight 1,940 kg Boot
Capacity 500 litres
Base Price €140,800