OCEANSIDE, Calif. — Although freshly up to date, the 2022 Audi S8 really has not been modified a lot. Its exterior has been properly freshened, it has some fancy new lights, and there’s a few new colours within the palette. What has modified, although, because the D5-generation A8/S8 debuted for 2019, is simply how quickly the trade’s transition to electrification has progressed.
Since we final reviewed the then-new S8, Audi has introduced the tip of its top-end sports activities automotive, the tip of inside combustion engine growth, and dad or mum firm Volkswagen has declared the guide transmission formally lifeless. You didn’t should be clairvoyant to see this coming, however right here in 2022, the tip of the standard automotive as we all know it feels quite a bit nearer than it did again then. As such, the ever-present sense that this S8 can be the final Audi of its sort loomed over our take a look at drive.
Because you requested, that “sort” is the massive German sleeper sedan, a class Audi arguably ignited in 1996 with the D2 S8. The W140 S-Class Benz and E38 BMW 7 Sequence might have had related output from V8s – or larger V12s, even — however their efficiency credentials hardly prolonged past the engine bay. There was no AMG S-Class, and even the widely athletic 7 of that point didn’t prolong as far into the efficiency realm because the S8. Apart from its stiffened and lowered sport-tuned suspension, it was a technological powerhouse with its Quattro AWD system, aluminum spaceframe building and recalibrated Tiptronic gearbox. It even had a photo voltaic sunroof to maintain the local weather management going when parked.
Today, the Merc and Bimmer have caught up when it comes to tech, in the identical means Audi has caught as much as them when it comes to badge snob credibility. AWD and aluminum bodywork are not unique to anybody marque, nor are high-performance variants. Someway, although, the Audi S8 feels truest to its unique mission.
It has essentially the most understated strains within the section, which is correct for a big government limousine with the strikes of a a lot smaller sports activities sedan. The Mercedes seems nearly too slippery, and who is aware of what’s occurring at BMW’s studios today. The S8 splits the proper distinction between glossy and chiseled.
A redesigned — and sure, bigger — grille thins out the chrome for a extra high-tech look. Its L-shaped inlays do a significantly better job of adorning the twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 than the 2020 mannequin’s horizontal-barred HVAC-like vent. Brightwork all through the automotive is made extra delicate, a glance that makes final 12 months’s look immediately dated. Or, you may go along with the Black Optics bundle as on our take a look at automotive and take away any hint of glossiness in anyway.
New headlights obtain segmented accent lights and commonplace HD matrix lighting. An non-obligatory Digital Matrix Lighting system makes use of 1.3 million micro-mirrors every measuring lower than a tenth of a millimeter that Audi says can modify 5,000 occasions a second for exact adaptive dispersal of photons. It ought to be famous, nonetheless, that a few of these features should not but obtainable for on-road use in america, authorized as they could now be.
On the rear, a wider decrease skirt provides the automotive a extra highly effective stance and frames the quad pipes, which function the principle giveaway that that is no mere A8. New OLED taillights repeat the segmented lighting signature from the entrance and emit a special sample when the automotive is positioned into Dynamic mode, must you need to sign intentions to a night-time freeway rival.
Talking of modes, the S8 has one thing of a break up character. In Consolation, it wafts together with the oceanic bob of a Coupe de Ville, whereas leaving occupants unperturbed by exterior noise. An insanely intricate lively air suspension employs the gentle hybrid’s 48-volt electrical system to lift and decrease totally different sides of the automotive by as much as 3 inches. It’s fast sufficient to hurl both aspect to the max in half a second if it detects an impending influence.
When not flinching, it lifts to maintain the automotive degree over street irregularities. Like high-end Mercedes and varied Genesis fashions, a digicam senses undulations within the street forward and adjusts the suspension to compensate. It even rises to ease ingress and egress. Velocity bumps are diminished to Botts Dots and uneven asphalt disappears into skinny air.
And but, if you flick it into Dynamic mode upon discovering a winding mountain street, the 17.5-foot, 5,126-pound behemoth appears to shrink to the scale of an A4. Because of hundreds upon a great deal of elaborate know-how, abruptly you’re carving canyons like Skipp Sudduth chasing down a handcuffed briefcase (what, you thought we’d get via a whole S8 evaluation with out referencing “Ronin”?). The lively suspension and sway bars work additional time to maintain the automotive degree. The torque-vectoring rear diff and AWD system maintain a titanic 563 horsepower and 590 pound-feet flowing to the precise corners. Commonplace four-wheel steering dials the rear wheels reverse to the fronts in tight corners, a lot to be able to really feel the automotive pirouetting just like the world’s huskiest ballerina.
Via sheer drive of know-how, the S8 feels extra planted and confidence-inspiring on switchbacks and hairpins than even the a lot smaller and nimbler A3. Like different four-wheel-steering techniques, this one additionally helps maintain the automotive planted at pace on highways as effectively, edging the rear wheels in the identical course because the fronts for stability. And regardless of its heft, the massive crimson calipers fastened to bigger entrance brakes (15.8 inches versus the A8’s 14.8) repeatedly brush off extra velocity with out drama.
All of the whereas, you’re sitting in a cockpit of nice consolation. The seats really feel nice, the supplies are appropriately prime notch, and to those eyes, the design is superior to these of its German rivals. It’s far much less busy than the gaudy S-Class and Audi has managed to combine its screens into the console not like the BMW 7 Sequence.
Sadly, they’re the usual twin touchscreen setup Audi’s been utilizing since 2019. The system responds sooner than the previous one, however irrespective of how responsive it’s and the way a lot haptic suggestions it offers, it’s nonetheless unimaginable to make use of with out taking your eyes off the street for longer than is good. Even the drive mode selector and hazard lights are operated by way of a flush panel the place a number of presses are required to get what ought to be one-touch ”buttons” to do what you count on. We a lot want the e-Tron GT’s middle stack, which at the very least has some bodily switchgear.
That’s the subject on the crux of the S8. It’s supremely succesful, however it could actually solely do what it does as a result of there’s a military of sensors emitting extra invisible waves than Three Mile Island. Methods like hideaway vents and eye-rollingly ostentatious “welcome ceremony” animation are novel initially however pointless after just a few turns. We shudder to consider the restore payments that may include all this complexity. Which is definitely one thing that’s been leveled on the S8 since its earliest days, however that automotive is positively quaint in comparison with its 2022 descendant.
If you happen to can look previous these issues, and maybe these plunking down $130,000 for a automotive can, the S8 is a rewarding drive. It’s a worthy successor to that D2 S8, and nearly definitely the final … effectively, at the very least as we’d acknowledge it.