New for 2015
The revised 2015 Audi S8 gets an updated front fascia, with a refreshed grille, bumper, and air intakes. The S8 now has wider quad oval tailpipes and, inside, a new interior option is added: Audi design selection Vermont Brown with Carbon Twill Copper inlays.
The Audi S8 is a high-performance version of the automaker’s flagship full-size sedan. The S8 is only surpassed in output by the RS 7, the second of two RS models in the U.S. lineup. Though it once came with a V-10, the current generation utilizes a twin-turbo V-8 with the intake and exhaust ports reversed from their traditional arrangement, with the turbochargers residing in the V of the engine.
The 2015 Audi S8 is powered by a 520-hp twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 that produces 481 lb-ft of torque, which is paired with an eight-speed automatic and the automaker’s signature quattro all-wheel-drive system. The super sedan will rocket to 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds on its way to a top speed of 155 mph, while also being capable of an EPA-estimated 17/27 mpg city/highway.
Being the flagship of a company known for their high quality interiors, the S8 is no exception, with features such as Valcona leather, an Alcantara headliner, heated/ventilated 22-way power front sport comfort seats, 630-watt Bose sound system, MMI infotainment system with a seven-inch color screen, full color head-up display, four zone climate control, and power rear and side sunshades. Also included are full LED adaptive headlights, LED taillights, top and corner view camera systems, adaptive cruise control, and a power trunk with hands-free release.
The 2015 Audi S8 has not yet been crash tested by the NHTSA or the IIHS.
What We Think
The 2015 Audi S8 improves on the performance and luxury of the A8, but ends up being a bit compromised in execution. In a Driven review of a 2013 Audi S8 (mechanically identical to the current model) we said, “It is the car for the driver who loves to go fast and who loves to do so without great effort. The S8 feels quick at any pace thanks to the swell of power that’s always underfoot. It is also every bit as comfortable, stylish, and luxurious as the A8. The stellar powertrain is enough of a reason to succumb to the S8, but Audi has backed it with the chassis hardware to improve cornering composure without diluting the A8’s refinement.”
It was true then on that racetrack, but our thoughts on the matter changed a bit as we drove it head-to-head against the Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG and the Jaguar XJR. In a 2014 comparison review we commented, “At the end of the third day, the S8 was perceived by all four of our testers as a cold technocrat that takes particular pride in keeping its driver at arm’s length. As best epitomized by its faultless drivetrain, this car is a somewhat empty and not entirely convincing triumph of efficiency over emotion.”
Many of our positives were accompanied by negatives in a “yes this was good, but…” manner: steering was OK but didn’t communicate much information to your hands; the brakes were powerful and fade free, but lacked progressive feel; the handling ranged from “defensive to indifferent,” with lazy cornering or terminal understeer at the limit; and we could find no satisfactorily comfortable setting from the air suspension’s three options.
Inside, the same story continued, with MMI getting even more complex, often several attempts to get the eight-speed to engage (and stay in) reverse, and a small trunk. We said, “If you are a Bang & Olufsen type and love the clean Bauhaus style, Germanic perfection down to the last detail, as well as special, no-cost-spared feel-good solidity, then the S8 may be worth a second look and a first test drive.”
“When it was all over, we debated long and hard about crowning a winner,” we wrote in the comparison,” and decided there wasn’t one. Why? Because the $114,900* Audi S8 is not really that much more desirable than a 420-hp A8L 4.0T ($90,400*) or even the 333-hp A8L 3.0T ($81,400*). Because the $116,895 XJR makes the 470-hp XJ Supercharged ($91,495), not to mention the 340-hp XJ AWD ($78,595), look like conspicuously smart buys. Because the $140,425 S63 AMG doesn’t cast a sufficiently tall shadow to blot out the 449-hp S550 4Matic ($96,825). What we have here is, therefore, a rare case of less is more, of three oversexed and underdesirable flagship sedans, of half-kept promises and transitory illusions.” [*Audi prices have been updated to 2015 figures]
With the revisions to the 4.0T powerplant (15 more hp) the gap has narrowed, making the S8 look less desirable in the face of a nearly $30,000 premium over the 4.0T. While the S8 is a good vehicle, the merits come more from the A8 than improvements that fall under that nearly $30,000 gap.
- 520-hp V-8
- High-quality interior
- Latest technology
You Won’t Like
- You can get all the things you’ll like on the A8L 4.0T for $24,500 less
- Less is more, in this case
- Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG
- Jaguar XJR
- Maserati Quattroporte
- Porsche Panamera
- BMW 7 Series