The previous S8, sold in the States from 2001 to 2003, challenged all but the most dedicated Audi spotter, as its visual giveaways were limited to a slightly lower ride height; eighteen-inch wheels; and silver side mirrors. The new S8, by contrast, stands out from the current A8 in myriad ways. A series of vertical bars has been added to its grille, added just months before the design was finalized. The nose of the car is reshaped with a protruding chin punctuated by several air intakes; the trunk lid sports an integral spoiler; and, once again, the mirror housings are faux aluminum. There are special wheels, of course, twenty inches in diameter and wrapped in 35-series performance rubber. The special treatment extends to the interior. Audi's top-spec leather covers the seats, in a choice of single or two-tone colors. The headliner is Alcantara synthetic suede. And buyers can spec carbon fiber trim for the dash, console, and door panels.
The most dramatic distinction, however, is under the hood, where Audi has installed its first-ever V-10 engine, adapted from the one in corporate sibling Lamborghini's Gallardo. Audi enlarges it from 5.0 to 5.2 liters and fits FSI gasoline direct injection. That's enough to produce 450 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque and a 0-to-62-mph time of 5.1 seconds.... Read full article