2008 Audi S8 new car reviews

Better than: BMW M5
But not as good as: Lamborghini Gallardo
GRM Bang For The Buck Index: 44.67

Every once in a while, it's nice to fantasize about being a baller. While there really isn't anyone on our staff that has much business piloting an über-luxury rig like this Audi, we were pretty eager to try one anyway.

The S8 is the most luxurious, most powerful and most expensive (duh) member of the current Audi lineup.
Boasting 450 horsepower and an advanced all-wheel-drive arrangement from one of the pioneers of the concept, the S8's spec sheet could almost pass this vehicle for a rally special--until you look at the weight. At more than 4000 pounds, there's a lot of Audi to move.

Thankfully, Audi's corporate stepsisters at Lamborghini were willing to build some extra V10's to help out. The V10 is similar, but not identical, to those found in the Gallardo supercar; you'll give up 70 horsepower to the Gallardo but gain almost 30 lb./ft. of torque. With its massive engine and foolproof, four-wheel-drive automatic transmission, there's no need for drama when the light goes green. Just press the gas you're off in a flash. It's almost too easy to be fun, but the real beauty is in the S8's ability to lie low and just be comfortable.

The S8 was as composed when driving gently as it was while being thrashed, something the M5 struggled with when we drove it a while back. We're always happy to give up a tenth of a second from our zero-to-60 time if it means we don't have to wear a neck brace on the drive to work.

The interior felt suitably expensive, the Bang & Olufsen stereo was very impressive and seating was exemplary. A carefully driven S8 should even reach comparable fuel economy to a new Subaru WRX, making the S8 strangely efficient in spite of itself. We weren't able to contain our enthusiasm long enough to substantiate that claim, and you probably wouldn't have been able to, either.

Other staff views

Tom Heath Tom Heath
UberDork

This is officially the most expensive car I've ever driven. There are times when cost alone earns my contempt for a car, but for some reason the S8 makes sense to me. It's moderately understated for its price point, sneaking under my cost-consciousness radar long enough to sway me with ridiculous levels of comfort and very solid performance.

Okay, so it only makes sense for lottery winners, but if I ever find myself among the nouveau riche, I'd be happy to pilot an S8 on my way to the country club.

David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

It's been a while since I have driven an Audi 8-series, but I really dug this car. I'd get it in a darker color, though--something a bit more sinister. Black would be kind of cliché; maybe something like the available Night Blue Peal Effect.

Big attributes:

  • For something so big, it's quite manageable. It doesn't feel like a land yacht.
  • Comfy. Way comfy. Loved the seats, wheel, driving position, the entire package. Audi nailed the ergonomics.
  • It might not keep up with a Z06, but it's definitely quick enough.
  • Maybe I'm just used to it, but I have no problem with Audi's version of I-Drive.
  • I like all-wheel drive, especially when the weather is less than sunny.
  • The Tiptronic works nicely here. It's so smooth that I assumed it was a DSG variant.

I'd say that the S8 is a very worthy competitor to the BMW 7 Series. In fact, the Audi is probably sportier. I know, I know, it costs more than a 15-year-old Miata with a slashed top, but that's why they call it a top-shelf luxury car.

My only knock is that the stereo seemed to be lacking some punch. I'd ask for some more bass. The system sounded crisp, but it didn't make Sirius 29 thump the way I wanted it to.

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