The 2014 S8, as the S8 always has, neatly blends the big German car luxury of the standard A8 with the savage level of performance that Audi constantly proves to the world that they are capable of providing. It is a super-sedan in every way and one that makes it all too clear that Audi is doing it right.
If the new S8 has a weak spot, it's the styling. And given the way Audis usually look, this is sort of to be expected. Subtle tweaks like aluminum mirrors, quad oval tailpipes, front splitter and flashy 21-inch wheels help the S8's case, but not by much. It's rather sedate, as even the hottest Audis are, and the only things that could be described as "flashy" on the S8 would be the red stripe in the S8 badges. One on the tail, one on the grille. The interior, though, is a lot more magnificent to behold than the somewhat sleepy exterior would lead you to expect. The L-shaped shift knob, three-spoke steering wheel and overall rakish trim of the cockpit betray this car's beastly performance, but it still retains high-end luxury like 22-way vented power seats, available Bang and Olufsen stereo, parking assist, and loads of safety technology. People who really want luxury, though, will buy an optioned-out A8. You buy the S8 for power, and the 2014 model delivers that in spades.
For a 4,600 pound sedan to run at supercar speeds, it needs grunt. The S8's 4.0 liter twin-turbo V-8 makes do with 520 horsepower and 481 lb/ft of torque. This runs through an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission and of course Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system, which is fitted with a sport differential and given a 40 to sixty percent rear power split. It's certainly enough to bring the S8 into supercar territory, as the big German sedan will hit sixty in 3.9 seconds in what Audi calls "otherworldly acceleration". Top speed is listed at 155 miles per hour, but you don't have to be an expert to know that this is electronically limited. Handling is aided by adaptive air suspension, which is adjustable to suit driver preferences, be they hard or soft, and the system also has the capability to lower the car as the speed increases. This is a car that may not provide the raw driving bliss of a purer sports car, but it is a car that can keep up with plenty of purer sports cars, and one that gives elite levels of comfort as well.
The S8 starts at $112,500. This is around $37,000 more than the base A8, and that seems like quite a heap of a difference for a car that hardly looks any different or better. This is an Audi, however, and with Audis it's what's on the inside that counts. The A8 is a nice luxury sedan, but the S8 is a nice luxury sedan that also happens to have the thumping V-8 and manic sound of a supercar. It's not a bad combination at all.