This is it. This is the car I'd buy if I won Lotto tomorrow. The S8 is the performance version of Audi's flagship model the A8. It's big, incredibly luxurious and has impressive performance and it gets better with successive editions.
There's just one catch. The S8 is priced from a nose-bleed $279,000, which for most people means it's only a dream unless their numbers drop. For those lucky enough be able to to afford this car read on because the S8 comes with enough features to fill a book.
Now in its third generation the A8/S8 has the distinction of being the world's first mass-produced car with an aluminium chassis. It's also the largest sedan of its kind, at 5.14 metres long, 1.95 metres wide and 1.46 metres tall, with a wheelbase of 2.99 metres.
The S8 has oodles of rear legroom and front seat passengers are cosseted by 22-way adjustable sports seats, with pneumatic cushions for the lumbar and side bolsters.
They're heated and cooled too, with four small fans that suck air through the pleated, perforated leather seat covering.
Also available is massage, with 10 pneumatic pillows, five intensities and five programs - pulse, wave, stretch, lumbar, shoulders. A 600 watt, 14 speaker Bose audio system is standard.
Or for a really hi-end solution, you can option the Bang Olufsen system, with 19 speakers, two amplifiers and more than 1400 watts of power. At $14,500 it's the price of a small car.
Turn it on and two tweeters rise several centimetres from concealment just inside the windscreen at the the corners of the dash. It's so cool.
ENGINE / TRANSMISSION
The 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine produces 382kW of power and 650Nm of torque, the latter between 1700 and 5500 revs. The engine is shared with the Bentley Continental GT, while a detuned version can also be found in other Audi models including the A8.
The V8 is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, with powered delivered to all four wheels through the Quattro all wheel drive system, with a rear, sport differential.
The sprint from 0 to 100 km/h takes a blistering 4.1 seconds, with a top speed that is electronically limited to 250 km/h. To save fuel the engine shuts off automatically at lights and Cylinder on demand (COD) deactivates four of the eight cylinders under light load.
Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) and active engine mounts keep the cabin quiet by suppressing undesired noise. The car rides on 21 inch wheels with adaptive air suspension, and the Audi drive select system that allows the driver to dial in different modes.
A highlight of the updated model is the LED headlights. Each high beam cluster consists of 25 LEDs and as soon a camera detects another vehicle, the headlights switch off or dim individual LEDs in the blink of an eye.
No rating from Euro NCAP or our own ANCAP, but it would be difficult to imagine this car not getting five stars. It comes with eight airbags plus numerous active and passive safety systems, including pre-sense which locks down the car if an accident is imminent.
At speeds below 30 km/h, the car brakes automatically with full force in an emergency, regardless of whether the car in front is driving or standing still. There's also adaptive cruise control, active lane keeping, side assist and park assist systems.
This car is all about autobahning. Yes it goes round corners okay but it is the straight line acceleration that will take your breath away. Plant your right foot and the twin turbo V8 roars to life like a Lear jet taking off, because that's what it is - a jet on four wheels. It doesn't get much better than this.
Rear seat passengers can watch different programs on the optional $9900 tablet style rear entertainment system. The car even has its own SIM and built in wi-fi hotspot for browsing the internet.
The navigation system uses Google Earth to plot your course, with novel images of the area you are driving through.