The Audi S8, a V-10 powered version of the German marque’s largest sedan, will join the S4–Audi’s only current S model–next year. Its V-10 is based on the unit found in the Lamborghini Gallardo, but features Audi’s FSI direct injection (borrowed from the R8 race car). That’s enough to produce 450 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque and a 0-to-62-mph time of 5.1 seconds. Thanks to a lower final-drive ratio, the S8 accelerates with vigor through all six paddle-shifted gears. Call us jaded, but this seems like a half-hearted attempt to keep stride with Mercedes-Benz’s AMG and BMW’s M divisions, given that both of them offer 500-hp engines. The V-10 in the BMW M5 and M6, for example, makes 500 hp.
Outside, the S8 differs from the A8 range by riding on twenty-inch rubber around unique seven-spoke wheels similar to those found on the upcoming RS4. A grille with extra chrome and S8 badges add to the distinctions, along with ‘V10’ badges behind the front wheels. Those with a keen eye will notice a slightly lower ride height as well as massive ceramic brakes behind the wheels. The S8 is available in all colors in the A8 lineup, and one color–Daytona Grey Pearl (pictured here)–is exclusive to this car. Audi has tagged the S8 with a base price of approximately $115,000; it will show up in Europe next summer and on American streets later in 2006.