What's it about
Two tonnes of lavish hooliganism! That's the short version of the Audi S8 story.
This "hooligan limo", as one of the Wheels24 staff members described it, isn't only a car that takes your breath away, but it gives you the ride of your life.
Here you have a luxury German sedan powered by an engine which is also seen in an Italian super car. Isn't it the best of two worlds? The excitement might just make your heart skip a beat.
The S8 is based on the aluminium A8 and under its huge bonnet is a potent V10, which is also found in the Lamborghini Gallardo. The 331kW S8 rivals the Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG, but is about R200k cheaper.
The A8 itself is already one of the best luxury sedans around and giving it super car power just elevates it to another level - which is obviously reserved for the very privileged (without pace-makers).
Its imposing looks are boosted by a striking chrome-finished grille, aluminium-look side mirrors and V10 and S8 badges. At the rear there four tailpipes and a spoiler integrated into the boot lid.
Naturally luxury is the name of the game. The S8 gets top-notch comfort gizmos that include automatic air conditioning, the MMI operating system, electromechanical parking brake complete with starting assist function and a deluxe audio system.
The S8 gets sports seats, a multifunction S-steering wheel and brushed aluminium or carbon fibre trim. The door sill trims are adorned with S8 emblems too. A rear-view camera helps when parking this beast.
Other special features include adaptive light technology and 20-inch wheels with the 18-inch brake system.
The S8 has daytime running lights integrated into the headlight cluster, additional airdams, a subtle boot spoiler and a set of quad tailpipes.
You can also spec an S8 with ceramic brakes or a 14-speaker Bang and Olufsen sound system developed specifically for the Audi A8/S8.
The excellent build quality also needs special mention. The S8's cabin has a solid feel, while materials are refined.
Under the skin
An "S10" badge could have been more appropriate to hint at the car's brute V10 power. The 5.2-litre V10 shares its basic design with that of the Lamborghini Gallardo. But it has been modified for the S8 and delivers a bit less power.
Whereas the Gallardo thrusts out 368 kW, the S8's V10 generates 331 kW at 7 000 r/min and musters up 540 Nm of torque at 3 500 r/min. At least 90% of the torque is available from as low as 2 300 r/min.
Thanks to its aluminum body, the ASF (Audi Space Frame), the S8 weighs 1940kg.
The S8 features revised adaptive air suspension that is up to 20 mm lower in its normal setting and is varied between three stages.
Audi's six-speed Tiptronic gearbox is standard too, though the transmission has been tweaked for the S8.
There is also Audi's quattro permanent all-wheel drive system with a 40/60 split through a Torsen differential.
The S8 is an enormous machine. The V10 makes a great noise too, while the result behind the wheel is thrilling stuff.
The car's acceleration is really addictive too. According to Audi, the S8 races from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.1 seconds and top speed is governed electronically at 250 km/h. It is a super sedan at its best.
Even if you touch the accelerator slightly it sends an instant jolt of power through the two-ton machine rocketing the S8 forward.
But the S8 is no sports car as it is still a huge beast, which in turn impacts on its agility. Its nimbleness doesn't quite match its performance and even with the adaptive air-suspension the ride is on the hard side.
Body control is reasonable, and the S8's handling is neat. Although the speed-sensitive power steering makes the car a breeze to drive in town it lacks some feel at higher speeds.
Road noise is also kept low over most surfaces, while wind noise is minimal too.
The S8 is all about the show - the V10's soundtrack is mesmerizing and it is pure ecstasy to whip the car through gears.
Although the standard A8 does most things as well as the S8, the performance model is cool too. It's also an engineering masterpiece and engages you as a driver.
Basically the S8 is about having a blast, while doing it in utter style. If you drive the S8, people will respect for your sense of style while you will be envied for the V10's flashiness.