Audi S8 Plus: Luxury Getaway

The car for those who’ve entertained fantasies of Jason Statham-like car chases and with scant few real rivals, the Audi S8 Plus is full-size luxury saloon designed for passenger comfort, driver appeal and outright ability that is faster and more agile than any of its Transporter film franchise predecessors.

Almost unrivalled in its very niche segment and winner of the 2017 Middle East Car of the Year awards’ Large Premium Performance Sedan category, the Audi S8 Plus’ is a discrete yet devastatingly swift and reassuring safe luxury sleeper car. With vice-like road-holding courtesy of Quattro four-wheel-drive and its compact twin-turbo V8 engine cranking out a further 84BHP over the garden-variety S8, the S8 Plus is a confident, spacious, comfortable and quick continent-crunching all-weather Q-car. Unique in its combination of qualities, the S8 Plus’ approximate rivals include Mercedes-AMG’s S63 and S65 models, its own Volkswagen group Bentley Flying Spur W12 models and possibly the Jaguar XJ-R.

Lighter, smaller and more discrete, agile and affordable than possible Bentley and Mercedes-AMG S65 competitors that also break the 600 metric horsepower (PS) barrier – albeit with larger 12-cylinder engines – the S8 Plus is however more powerful than both of its more direct V8-powered AMG S63 and Jaguar rivals, and roomier than the latter. Engineered for comfort, driver appeal outright ability, the S8 Plus is built on stiff and rigid aluminium platform and wears its sporting potential with a certain sense of under-statement, bar for its discrete badging, integrated quad tailpipes, small rear spoiler, brake calipers and large alloy wheels shod with grippy low profile 275/35R21 tyres.

Also optioned with model-specific matt silver paint, the S8 Plus strikes a stylish and assertive, if somewhat subtle picture that forgoes exaggerated boy-racer like bodywork enhancements and trim. Instead, it has a certain sense of nuance that suggests a vast and potentially volcanic ability. A sculpted design brimming with confidence, the S8 Plus’ visage is dominated by a large and seemingly voracious grille, flanked by dramatic slim browed LED headlights. Chiseled bodywork, ridged flanks and a level waistline complement a flowing roofline and conservative demeanor to lend the S8 Plus a grounded, heavy and alert road stance, and allow for good visibility for added driving confidence.

Silky smooth yet spectacularly swift, the Audi S8 Plus comparatively compact but high output direct injection 4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine produces an abundant and tsunami-like wave of 516lb/ft torque throughout a broad and ever accessible 1,750-6,000rpm, which further rises to a 553lb/ft peak throughout 2,500-5,500rpm during short burst on overboost. Underwriting an urgent and indefatigably brutal accumulation of power, the S8 Plus’ bulging and effortlessly flexible mid-range gives way to a maximum 597BHP developed at a 6,100-6,800rpm top end. Seemingly dismissive of wind resistance as speed builds with confident ease, the S8 Plus can attain an electronically governed 250km/h top speed, but can optionally be de-restricted to 305km/h.

With its twin turbochargers positioned between its two cylinder banks for short intake gas-flow paths greatly reducing turbo lag at idle, the S8 Plus’ is responsive to throttle input. And coupled with tenacious Quattro four-wheel-drive digging into tarmac, the S8 Plus virtually rockets off the line from standstill, blasting through the 0-100km/h acceleration benchmark in a supercar-rivaling 3.8-seconds. Welling with and abundant wave of mid-range torque, the S8 Plus overtakes and gains speed swiftly, easily and quietly, but with its engine and exhaust set in more aggressive Dynamic mode, becomes more evocatively and vocal. Steering, gearbox, dampers and differentials can also be individually set to Auto, Comfort and harder-edged Dynamic driving modes.

An adaptable and capable car that can be tailored for comfort or sporty driving, the S8 Plus is also comparatively fuel efficient for a 1,990kg car this powerful and fast. Returning just 10l/100km on the combined cycle, its comparatively low fuel consumption is achieved with the aid of a traffic stop/star system and seamless automatic cylinder de-activation when cruising. However, the S8 Plus’ fuel efficiency, swift performance, on the move versatility and refinement also owe a significant debt to its slick, smooth and swift shifting 8-speed automatic gearbox and wide and closely spaced range of gear ratios, and which can be manually controlled through steering-mounted paddle shifters for more driver involvement.

Like most high performance four-wheel-drive Audis since the iconic 1980s Quattro, the S8 Plus’ engine is positioned just in front of its front axle, which contributes to its vice-like traction. Traditionally a slight trade-off between weighting balance and road-holding, the S8 Plus – like most recent Audis – doesn’t feel particularly nose-heavy, and with more sophisticated suspension and Quattro four-wheel-drive with a default 60% rear power bias, and quick, in fact feels alert and tidy turning into corners. With its active centre differential altering power distribution between 70% frontwards and 85% rearwards for best traction, grip and ultimate performance, the S8 Plus’ also features a selective inside wheel braking torque vectoring system for added agility and nimbleness into corners.

A luxury getaway car if there ever was, the plush Audi S8 Plus defies its weight and what is expected of its segment in its ability to cover ground at an incredibly quick pace and in utmost confidence through corners and in adverse weather. Adapting to prevailing conditions with brutal effectiveness, the S8 Plus enters and exits at speed with unruffled confidence. Pushed to its huge grip limits, electronic stability controls and four-wheel-drive prevent understeer. Alternatively, easing off the throttle or pivoting weight rearwards tightens its cornering line. Committed through corners, the S8 Plus’ active rear differential also distributes power to the wheel best able to put it down to the ground.

With weighty, direct and quick steering, resiliently effective brakes and reassuringly stable and settled ride, the S8 Plus excels at speed, and remains quiet and refined inside, and features noise cancellation technology. Riding on adaptive air dampers, it is supple and fluent in Comfort mode well controls lateral weight shift in Dynamic mode, and remains settled and poised on rebound over crests and dips.

Classy and luxurious inside, it is well-constructed and stylish, with clean interfaces, quality materials and rich textures including Alcantara roofliner and quilted leather seats. Driving position is supportive, comfortable and highly adjustable while space is generous. Well-equipped, the S8 Plus long standard and optional features include a 360° camera further aids good visibility, four-zone climate control, user-friendly infotainment system with Wifi connectivity and advanced semi-automated driver-assistance safety systems.

Audi S8 Plus

  • Engine: 4-litre, twin-turbo, in-line V8-cylinders
  • Bore x stroke: 84.5 x 89mm
  • Compression ratio: 9.3:1
  • Valve-train: 32-valve, DOHC, direct injection
  • Gearbox: 8-speed automatic, four-wheel-drive
  • Ratios: 1st 4.714; 2nd 3.143; 3rd 2.106; 4th 1.667; 5th 1285; 6th 1.0; 7th 0.839; 8th 0.667
  • Reverse / final drive: 3.317 / 3.204
  • Drive-line:, self-locking centre differential, optional limited-slip rear-differential
  • Power distribution, F/R: 40% / 60%
  • Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 597 (605) [445] @6,100-6,800rpm
  • Specific power: 149.5BHP/litre
  • Power-to-weight: 300BHP/tonne
  • Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 516 (700) @1,750-6,000rpm
  • Torque, lb/ft (Nm), overboost: 553 (750) @2,500-5,500rpm
  • Specific torque: 187.8Nm/litre (overboost)
  • Torque-to-weight: 376.8Nm/tonne (overboost)
  • 0-100km/h: 3.8-seconds
  • Top speed, restricted / de-restricted: 250 / 305km/h
  • Fuel consumption, urban / extra-urban / combined: 13.7 / 7.9 / 10-litres/100km
  • CO2 emissions, combined: 231g/km
  • Fuel capacity: 82-litres
  • Length: 5,147mm
  • Width: 1949mm
  • Height: 1,458mm
  • Wheelbase: 2,994mm
  • Track, F/R: 1,632 / 1,623mm
  • Overhangs, F/R: 1,012 / 1,141mm
  • Headroom, F/R: 1,036 / 983mm
  • Luggage volume: 520-litres
  • Unladen weight: 1,990kg
  • Steering: Electric-assisted rack & pinion
  • Turning Circle: 12.3-meters
  • Suspension: Multi-link, adaptive air dampers
  • Brakes: Ventilated & perforated discs
  • Tyres: 275/35R21
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