Always thought the Audi S8 is a bit slow and too quiet? Audi comes to your rescue with the new Audi S8 Plus! Its Audi’s ultimate performance limousine based on the A8. We had the exclusive opportunity to test the Audi S8 Plus and it didn’t let us down.
The Audi S8 Plus is based on the third generation S8 which was first introduced in 2012. The S8 has built a solid reputation since its inception in 1996 and true to the original it still combines luxury with performance. One of its signature features is Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive and after a generation equipped with a V10 engine, the latest S8 once again uses a V8 power plant
Engine & Performance
The new Audi S8 Plus comes with the same 4.0-liter V8 Biturbo engine under the bonnet as the ‘normal’ Audi S8. However, thanks to a raised red line, higher boost levels of both turbos and some other modifications, the V8 engine produces 605hp (between 6,100-6,800 rpm). That is a whopping 85hp more than regular S8 and only 5hp shy of Audi’s halo sportscar the R8 V10 plus.
The S8 Plus also has more torque as the regular S8: 700Nm between 1,750-6,000 rpm and 750Nm for short bursts in overboost mode between 2,500-5,500 rpm. That is also significantly more than the 650Nm of torque of the S8.
This gives the Audi S8 Plus some pretty impressive acceleration figures: 0-100 km/h in just 3.8 seconds and 0-200 km/h 12.3 sec. The top speed is raised to 305 km/h with the dynamic packages which comes standard in Germany and some other markets. In other markets the S8 Plus is limited to 250 km/h as standard but that can be lifted to 305 km/h as well by ticking the Dynamic Package on the option list.
Chassis, Suspension & Gearbox
The S8 uses a full aluminum chassis which helps to keep the dry weight to 2,065 kilograms. The standard air suspension allows the driver to change between comfort and sport, although even in comfort the ride is fairly firm. The suspension received specific ‘S’ tuning to make sure it not only goes fast in a straight line but also manages to tackle corners quickly. It is only available as short wheel base version which aids the driving dynamics but may leave some customers that want the extra space in the back combined with the best performance left wanting more.
The engine is paired with a 8-speed tiptronic gearbox developed by ZF. Although this is a single clutch gearbox it provides solid performance and quick shifts and it is no wonder that its used by many other high torque cars like the Bentley Continental GT and Range Rover Supercharged. Only when you overrule the gearbox with the steering wheel mounted paddles it sometimes finds itself a little flustered. The paddles are sadly the same as in many other Audis, our GTspirit SQ5 included. It would have been nicer if the S8 Plus came with some solid aluminum or carbon fibre paddles.
Our test car is finished in the stunning matt Silver dubbed Florett Silver. It clearly shows the subtle but cool design changes the S8 Plus received over the S8. These include a carbon front splitter, carbon air intake inlets and a black grill. On the rear the changes are more significant with a carbon boot lip, smoked rear lights, black diffuser and two black twin pipes of the sports exhaust system.
In this config the S8 Plus is a clear eye catcher. Where ever we go the luxury limousine turns heads and during our shoot people frequently stopped to find out more about the car.
Inside you find lots of leather, alcantara and S8 Plus specific red stitching throughout the cabin. We particularly like the standard alcantara roof trim. In both the front and the rear you find S8 signage but a reference to the Plus is nowhere to be seen. Seating position behind the wheel is very good, seats are comfortable yet offer good side support even for a taller driver as myself.
In the back leg space is obviously not as plentiful as in a long wheel base limousine but is still sufficient. Headroom is better than in some of its sporty competitors like the Jaguar XJR and Porsche Panamera Turbo. Optionally you can also equip the S8 Plus with massage seats in the rear. In general the S8 Plus is very well equipped and it is the only Audi that comes with the assistance package (which includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Parking Assistance Plus, Lane Assist and Side Assist) and Audi Connect (including wifi hotspot and live traffic) as standard.
Audio wise a Bose system is standard with Bang & Olufsen as optional extra. In our test car the Bang & Olufsen system did well although it can’t quite match the excellent Burmester system available for the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. In the rear you can add rear seat entertainment which includes two 10.2 inch displays, dedicated 20gb jukebox, SD slots, usb, ipod etc, DVD player.
We pick up our brand new 2016 Audi S8 Plus at the Audi factory in Neckarsulm. This is not only the place where the Audi A6 and A8 are being built but also home of Quattro GmbH, Audi’s dedicated in-house tuning firm responsible for development of all R, S and RS models. Inside the Audi Forum we had a quick look at the special R8 exhibition before heading downstairs to the main entrance where we were handed the keys to our S8 Plus for the day.
As you can expect from a car in this segment, you no longer need to take the key out of your pocket and just press of the start button to bring the V8 engine to life. I have always been a fan of the S8 and even owned a second generation S8 years ago. But sound wise the S8 has always been on the sophisticated side of the scale. That all changes with the new S8 Plus, the sports exhaust that comes standard as part of the dynamic package is properly loud and provides a delicious full-bodied V8 soundtrack.
But before we test out the dynamic mode we leave Neckarsulm in comfort mode. As already mentioned above the air suspension is fairly sporty even in comfort. On road surfaces that are not very smooth you will clearly feel the bumps. Comfort wise Audi did add active noise cancelation that helps reduce the level of noise you register at certain rev ranges.
Out of the city and with a warm engine we change from comfort to dynamic and plant our right foot for the first time. The performance is very impressive, not just in acceleration but in braking as well. In markets where it comes standard with the dynamic package its fitted with carbon ceramic brakes which provide excellent stopping power.
About 30 minutes away from Neckarsulm we find what could be an auto journalists ideal test road. A combination of left and right hand corners in varying degrees, a proper hairpin and a few straights. And best of all its only frequented by about three cars per hour. As I steer the S8 Plus through the corners you do feel the weight of this luxury limousine, there is some body roll. Overall its handling comes much closer to a sportscar than we dared to imagine.
The sound, acceleration and braking exceeds our expectations, it truly is a world apart form the normal S8 and well worth the extra money. Sadly an autobahn test was not an option due to highway construction and a lot of traffic in the area but knowing what the RS6 and RS7 can do with only 560hp I’m confident the S8 Plus won’t let anyone down there either.
What to spec?
The Audi S8 Plus comes exceptionally well specced and there are only a few things we would really recommend. If the S8 Plus does not come with the Dynamic Package in your country make sure to spec that as its well worth it. The same goes for Audi Connect and the Assistance package.
Seat Cooling & Massage function: Nothing better than having a cool seat in Summer and a relaxing massage on the way to a meeting.
Rear seat entertainment: A must if you ever plan to sit in the back seat!
Matrix LED Headlights: They not only look cool but the adaptive matrix LED lights make driving in the dark much safer.
What about the Competition?
The performance limousine market is getting more crowded year after year. The benchmark is set by the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and although I do love the style and dynamics of the S8 Plus, the S63 AMG offers a wider bandwidth between comfort and performance. Also in luxury, infotainment and assistance systems the S-class is just that little bit better. Performance and handling wise the S8 Plus is the clear winner though. In this spectrum there are two other clear competitors: the Jaguar XJR, which we praised for its steering and dynamics, and the Porsche Panamera Turbo, that is as sporty as it gets with four doors. Along with the new BMW 7-Series (which we haven’t tested yet) and the Maserati Quattroporte (most stylish) it is very hard to pick a clear winner. But if you prefer to drive yourself the S8 Plus could very well be our favorite at the moment.
The new Audi S8 Plus is not a little plus but a very big PLUS! The 85hp more, 305 km/h top speed, ceramic brakes, sport exhaust and amazing standard equipment turns the S8 from a fast luxury limousine to a sportscar rivaling four-door. The only thing we don’t really like is the analogue Audi clock in the dashboard and the firm ride in comfort mode. After our test drive we have to conclude the S8 Plus would be a RS badge worthy.
The first Audi S8 Plus customer cars will be delivered from November 2015 in Germany.