Car Reviews

2015 Audi S8 Review

The 2015 Audi S8 is a perfect blend of luxury and performance.

By Lorne Drury Wheels.ca

May 25, 2015 4 min. read

Article was updated 8 years ago

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If only we had the German Autobahn here to truly enjoy an automobile like the Audi S8.

But even without our own speed-limit-free highway, it doesn’t take long to determine that the S8 is one of the best automobiles on the planet.

And although a new generation is on the horizon, the 2015 S8 is hardly showing its age.

If the next generation proves to be even better, we certainly have something special to look forward to.

In Audi-speak, I like to think of the ‘S’ designation as standing for sporty and speedy. It’s the performance version of a particular model and that’s what differentiates the S8 from Audi’s flagship A8 sedan.

The A8 is an outstanding vehicle in its own right, but with the ‘S’ designation, you add exceptional performance to the ultra-luxury features of the base model.

2015 Audi S8 main

And we use the word ‘base’ loosely here because the A8 starts at $85,300, while the S8 is $126,900. As tested, it priced out at $141,800 when you add in $14,800 worth of options. There’s also a freight charge of $2,095 on top of that.
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All this power and luxury certainly comes at a premium, but for anyone with pockets deep enough to afford the S8, it’s a price worth paying.

For a full-size luxury sedan the S8 is just as comfortable carving through the twisties on winding back roads as it is on the highway thanks in part to Audi’s famed quattro permanent all-wheel drive that transfers power from front to back and side to side as needed to maintain grip.

The S8 is also specially tuned to improve handling with its adaptive air suspension that adjusts body height according to speed.

Audi Drive Select also lets the operator select the appropriate throttle and steering response for the type of driving being done from sporty to comfort-oriented.

The S8 comes with a twin turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine that produces 520 hp and 481 lb/ft of torque. It will do the 0-100 km/h run in 4.0 seconds — amazingly quick for a car that weighs in at 2,125 kg. Power is transferred through an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission with manual paddle shifters.

2015 Audi S8 engine

Despite its size, the S8 is also fairly fuel-efficient thanks in part to Audi’s cylinder-on-demand engine technology that shuts down half the cylinders when cruising on the highway. A display on the instrument cluster shows when the engine is operating in four-cylinder mode.

Among the options on our test car was a killer $7,000 Bang & Olufsen 1,400-watt sound system with 19 speakers including two neat little mushroom-like ones at each side of the windshield that pop up out of the dash when the engine is started.
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The car also had Night Vision Assistant ($2,500) that uses a thermal imaging camera and image recognition software to detect people ahead in the darkness. If the system sees them as being at risk, a warning bell sounds and the image on the seven-inch driver’s information display turns from yellow to red.

The Driver Assistant Package ($3,600) with features like adaptive cruise control is a useful option to include on your checklist. Using radar sensors, the system automatically brakes and accelerates to keep a set distance behind the vehicle in front.

2015 Audi S8 Gauges

Handsome on the outside, but truly exceptional on the inside is the way I would describe the S8.

It has seating for five people with the back-seat console/armrest in its upright position, or four if the console is in place between the two outer rear seats, both of which are heated.

2015 Audi S8 back seats

The front sport seats are both heated and cooled and are extremely comfortable. We did a couple of three-hour-plus drives and came away refreshed as if we’d just finished a back massage.

Oh, in fact, we did have back massages as the S8 boasts massaging front seats that offer stretch, wave and other massage features. If only every car had this…

2015 Audi S8 front interior

Audi was a pioneer with an all-aluminum chassis for the A8 when it launched in the mid-’90s to help cut down weight. The 2015 A8 (and S8) continues with an aluminum body, one of many vehicles going that route today.

This platform helps the S8 handle much better than one would expect from a full-size sedan. The car does feel large, but it manoeuvres nicely, even in tight city traffic. On the highway, it shines with power, speed and comfort the order of the day.

And the list of features goes on and on, as it should for a car that costs more than most people will ever hope to earn in a year.

2015 Audi S8 rear

But for the well heeled who want a car with a near perfect mix of performance and luxury, it doesn’t get much better than the Audi S8.

The 2015 Audi S8 at a glance

BODY STYLE: Full-size luxury performance sedan.
DRIVE METHOD: Front-engine, quattro all-wheel drive.
ENGINE: 4.0-litre turbocharge V8 (520 hp, 481 lb/ft of torque) with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
CARGO CAPACITY: 402 litres.
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 14.2/8.8/11.8 L/100 km city/highway/combined.
PRICE: $126,900, as tested $141,800 plus $2,095 freight and PDI.
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