On the heels of a redesigned A8, Audi unleashed a performance variant, the S8, for 2013. Though it's four cylinders short of the 12-cylinder A8 W12, the S8's twin-turbo V-8 makes more power and is the most powerful sedan Audi has built. Competitors include the Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG and Jaguar XJ SuperSport.
The S8 is based on the regular-length A8, not the extended-wheelbase A8 L. In line with Audi's S treatment, the S8 has subtle changes versus the A8. Among them are a tweaked grille, modified side sills, a rear bumper air diffuser and quad tailpipes. Twenty-one-inch alloy wheels are standard. A sport-tuned adaptive air suspension has three selectable ride heights.
Diamond-stitched leather seats with heating, ventilation and massaging functions are standard. The instruments have unique white-on-gray detailing. Audi's drive select program allows drivers to dial in specific settings for drivetrain, steering and suspension response.
Under the Hood
With a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 cranking out 520 horsepower and 479 pounds-feet of torque — nearly as much horsepower and a lot more torque than Audi's R8 V-10 supercar — the S8 should hit 60 mph in about 4 seconds. Thanks in part to a cylinder deactivation feature, the new S8 consumes 23 percent less fuel than its V-10 S8 predecessor while making 15 percent more power, Audi says.
An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard.
The S8's brakes measure a colossal 15.7 inches up front and 14 inches in back, with six-piston front calipers. That's about the same size as the front discs on a Ferrari FF. A bevy of airbags, antilock brakes and an electronic stability system are standard. Options include lane departure and blind spot warning systems, forward collision warning with automatic braking, and night vision with pedestrian detection.