2022 Audi S8 Review: Donnerkrieger
Singapore - I walked away thinking… could this be the best flagship sedan a keen driver could buy… The Audi S8 certainly flies under the radar, especially when you place it beside high powered equivalents within the Mercedes-Benz S Class and BMW 7 Series range. But that is the thing about larger Audi cars (not the RS ones). They tend to be less extroverted. But the S8 leaves a lasting impression, which to me, is certainly a mark of good automotive design.
Ever since Audi began churning A8 sedans from Neckarsulm, those who needed more anger out of the flagship sedan, could always opt for more thunder. There was a time you could snag an S8 with a V10 engine (taken from the R8), or even a W12 (I get giddy every time I picture that crank turning). However, for the fourth-generation S8, Audi only offers the go-faster luxury sedan with a twin-turbocharged 4.0 V8 (well because emissions, etc).
The current A8 first reached our shores in 2018, and the range has just gotten a mid-life nip n’ tuck, and there are now two A8 variants, a V6 and a V8, both offered with long wheelbase setups. However, the S8 is only available with a regular wheelbase body; which is good, as this would mean that it is easier to manage the car around the twisties. The S8 is only 74mm further between the wheels, when placed beside the A6.
2022 Audi S8 - inside
You know that it is special the moment you open any one of the doors. The flagship sedan’s trick suspension responds by raising the body by 50mm; all of this fuss, so that the seat meets with your backside with ease, and you simply duck a little less. Audi’s “elevated entry” is just one of the many cool features coming from the suspension.
Clean and cold, is how I could best describe the S8’s interior. This is synonymous with most cars produced by Audi, but along with this comment, I have to say that everything feels just so well put together. Like the A6 and A7, the S8 is equipped with a pair of stacked infotainment touchscreens. These are powered by the brand’s MMI navigation plus with MMI touch response. There is still no voice activation, like systems found in both the S Class and 7 Series, but where the infotainment shines is in how quickly it responds to inputs, and its ability to understand the very worst of a doctor’s left-handed finger scribbles.
My favourite party trick are the retractable air-conditioning vents, which sit a level above the upper infotainment screen. There is a good deal of customisation Audi provides, and among these, you can choose between four trim options for the upper inserts. While the test car gets a sporty carbon look, which I feel is getting overused, I would have instead opted for grey brown natural Eucalyptus wood inserts - yeah I have a thing for open pore wood.
The S8 may be based on the short wheelbase A8 architecture, but I cannot complain about rear leg space. There is plenty of room to stretch, and the rear seats are not only electrically adjustable like the ones in the front, they are also ventilated. A small but significant improvement is that the control panel at the rear armrest, is now a fixed unit. Previously, it was offered as a detachable mini tablet, which was hot to the touch when you picked it up.
2022 Audi S8 - the Drive
The A8’s 4.0 V8 in the S8 is generally the same one found in the (V8 versions of) Bentley Flying Spur and Porsche Panamera. But there is stiff competition, coming from names like the Mercedes-Benz S 580 4MATIC, the incoming (if it comes) BMW M760e xDrive, and even the F154 powered Maserati Quattroporte Trofeo.
The Audi’s V8 cracks out 571hp and 800Nm, and with your foot down, you’d work through a small portion of that 8-speed to reach the yardstick 100km/h in 3.8 seconds. The engine does this, while spitting out some rear-end thunder, albeit muted in drama.
Then there is that shorter wheelbase and four-wheel steering, all of which comes together in how accurately you can pilot the sedan into a turn and then out again. Sure, it's not the microns-thin atop a razorblade sort of sharp like maybe in the RS 7, but it is accurate… accurate and padded. And while it has AWD, the sedan still feels satisfyingly rear-biased in the way it drives. Around bends, the active suspension becomes firmer on the outer wheels, which significantly reduces the amount of roll.
But owning the S8 is not all about getting there hard n’ fast, it still has to waft over extended stretches of tarmac; which is what a flagship sedan is intended to do. In ‘Comfort+’ drive mode, the active suspension works in tandem with a front-facing camera, the latter which picks out uneven surfaces. The in-house developed system reacts within milliseconds, reducing the effects of bumps and also the amount of pitch and roll. We also notice around bends, S8 even leans inward to reduce G forces. Audi even goes as far to claim that you could safely drive around with a full cup of coffee in one of its cup holders.
Perhaps the large 21-inch wheels do reduce some of that ride comfort, but damn! This is a car which can already do so many good things, and it is quite blimey and sublimely near-perfect…
If I just had one complaint… if I were to nitpick. The short-lived drama from the engine and tail pipes, when the car is in ‘Dynamic’ mode does leave me wanting more. Therefore, I would part with this… There are certain sounds which make the world a better place… like a stonking German V8; and there are certain noises the world could do without, like Kanye West.
PHOTOS Clifford Chow
2022 Audi S8
Engine 3996cc, V8, twin-turbo
Transmission 8spd tiptronic auto
Top Speed 250km/h
Fuel Consumption 12l/100km