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Key Specs

of the 2003 Audi S8. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
  • Combined MPG:
    18 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    360-hp, 4.2-liter V-8 (premium)
  • Drivetrain:
    All-wheel Drive
  • Transmission:
    5-speed automatic w/OD and auto-manual
  • View more specs

2003 Audi S8 Overview

By Cars.com Editors
Vehicle Overview
Audi unveiled a lavishly redesigned A8 sedan at the Paris Motor Show in September 2002, but it won’t go on sale until the 2004 model year. The German automaker’s flagship vehicle, which is still available in regular- and extended-length (A8 L) forms, gets only a few revisions in option-package content for 2003. The A8’s Premium Package now includes heated front and rear seats, a navigation system, xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights, a heated steering wheel, a tire-pressure monitor, five-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels, and a power rear sunshade and manual rear side shades.

The 2003 A8 L may be equipped with 18-inch wheels. Its Premium Package includes a front and rear Parktronic parking-assist system, a navigation system, a tire-pressure monitor and five-spoke 17-inch forged wheels.

Both A8 sedans use a 310-horsepower, 4-2 liter V-8 engine that teams with Audi’s permanently engaged quattro all-wheel-drive (AWD) system. A high-performance S8 offshoot joined Audi’s lineup in 2001, and it comes with a 360-hp version of the V-8 power plant. A Limited Edition Package that includes special wood trim and polished, nine-spoke 18-inch RS wheels is available for the 2003 S8.

Exterior
All Audi sedans bear a family resemblance. In standard form, the A8 rides a 113.4-inch wheelbase and measures 198.2 inches long overall. The A8 L is a little more than 5 inches longer. The skeleton-like frame and most body and suspension parts are made of alumin...
Vehicle Overview
Audi unveiled a lavishly redesigned A8 sedan at the Paris Motor Show in September 2002, but it won’t go on sale until the 2004 model year. The German automaker’s flagship vehicle, which is still available in regular- and extended-length (A8 L) forms, gets only a few revisions in option-package content for 2003. The A8’s Premium Package now includes heated front and rear seats, a navigation system, xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights, a heated steering wheel, a tire-pressure monitor, five-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels, and a power rear sunshade and manual rear side shades.

The 2003 A8 L may be equipped with 18-inch wheels. Its Premium Package includes a front and rear Parktronic parking-assist system, a navigation system, a tire-pressure monitor and five-spoke 17-inch forged wheels.

Both A8 sedans use a 310-horsepower, 4-2 liter V-8 engine that teams with Audi’s permanently engaged quattro all-wheel-drive (AWD) system. A high-performance S8 offshoot joined Audi’s lineup in 2001, and it comes with a 360-hp version of the V-8 power plant. A Limited Edition Package that includes special wood trim and polished, nine-spoke 18-inch RS wheels is available for the 2003 S8.

Exterior
All Audi sedans bear a family resemblance. In standard form, the A8 rides a 113.4-inch wheelbase and measures 198.2 inches long overall. The A8 L is a little more than 5 inches longer. The skeleton-like frame and most body and suspension parts are made of aluminum. Audi claims that this makes the sedan 300 to 500 pounds lighter, stronger and more fuel efficient than rivals built mainly of steel.

Interior
The A8 L sedan’s interior differs mainly in rear legroom, which is nearly 3 inches greater than that in the base model; this permits limousine-like accommodations. Standard leather upholstery comes in a choice of colors. Two decorative wood inlay types are available: burled walnut or polished sycamore.

Under the Hood
Generating 310 hp, the A8’s 4.2-liter V-8 engine works with a Porsche-derived Tiptronic five-speed-automatic transmission and Audi’s permanently engaged quattro AWD system. A Sport mode permits manually selected gear changes using steering-wheel controls. A 360-hp version of the 4.2-liter V-8 with higher compression goes into the high-performance S8.

Safety
Audi leads the league in airbags with a total of eight. Two dual-stage driver and front-passenger airbags are complemented by four door-mounted side-impact airbags that protect all outboard occupants and two curtain-type airbags that drop from the roof lining and deploy along the side windows. Antilock brakes are standard. An optional Parktronic sonar system detects obstacles to the front and rear of the vehicle while parking.

Driving Impressions
Packed with posh comfort and convenience features, the A8 delivers a thoroughly luxurious experience. The easy-to-drive A8 is a superlative, subtly sophisticated road car that’s not a flashy automobile.

Performance is brisk and assertive. The ride approaches bliss and handling is highly adept, and the AWD system helps on wet pavement. Passing and merging are accomplished without a worry as the energetic V-8 responds forcefully. Automatic-transmission upshifts are gentle, and downshifts are prompt and positive. While engine noise is satisfyingly muted, road sounds emerge on certain surfaces.

The controls are excellent, but some aren’t located in the most convenient spots. Visibility is good, except for thick B-pillars that limit the view over the driver’s left shoulder. The seats are comfortable and supportive.

 
Reported by Jim Flammang  for cars.com
From the cars.com 2003 Buying Guide
Posted on 11/20/02

Latest 2003 S8 Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.0)
Performance
(5.0)
Interior Design
(5.0)
Comfort
(5.0)
Reliability
(5.0)
Value For The Money
(5.0)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

Fantastic Used Car Bargain

by Blackhole from Auburn MA on January 7, 2009

The big Audis have always been wonderful used car bargains, the S8 is spectacular in this regard. They will go 200K miles easily IME without major issues (and still look new inside). At $80K+ new, ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2003 Audi S8 currently has 0 recalls

Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2003 Audi S8 has not been tested.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The S8 received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker