The Audi S8 is back, equipped with a mild hybrid powertrain and plenty go-fast bits.
The Audi S8 supersedan will return to the German brand’s lineup in 2020, and it once again rival the likes of the Mercedes-AMG S 63, the BMW M760Li and the Cadillac CT6-V. This time around, it gets a few new tricks up its sleeve, such as a mild hybrid system for greater fuel economy.
First and foremost, the new S8 is equipped with a twin-turbo, 4.0-litre V8 that develops 563 horsepower (420 kW, 571 PS) and 590 pound-feet of torque, matched to an eight-speed automatic and—of course—quattro all-wheel drive.
According to its maker, the executive sedan can blast from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.8 seconds and hit a governed top speed of 250 km/h.
In comparison, the previous-generation S8 produced 512 hp (382 kW, 520 PS) and hit 100 km/h in 4.1 seconds, while the S8 plus boasting 597 hp (445 kW, 605 PS) and accelerated from 0 to 100 in 3.8 seconds. However, the S8 plus could reach 305 km/h.
The MHEV system is not designed to enhance performance, but to reduce fuel consumption. It’s paired with a 48-volt electrical system, and allows the car to coast with the gasoline engine on pause in addition to smoothing out the automatic stop/start and cylinder deactivation systems. Audi claims all this techno wizardry reduces real-world consumption by 0.8 L/100 km.
Under the skin, the 2021 Audi S8 features an active, predictive suspension that teams up with the air dampers to lift or push down each wheel individually. As a result, pitch and body roll is better controlled during acceleration and braking. In addition, a front camera scans the road ahead to prepare the suspension for bumps and potholes, thus increasing ride comfort.
The air suspension also has a few other nifty features. During cornering, it can lean the car’s body into the inside of a curve, reducing body roll, and when the sedan is stationary, the suspension can raise itself by 50 millimetres to make entry/exit easier.
As usual in an Audi high-performance model, the 2021 S8 benefits from a full-time all-wheel drivetrain and four-wheel steering for low-speed manoeuvrability and high-speed stability. It also features a sport differential for distributing power to the wheels with the most traction. On the options list, buyers can choose carbon fibre ceramic brakes with 420-mm discs up front and 370-mm discs at the rear.
From a design standpoint, the 2021 Audi S8 gets some silver accenting, sportier looking bumpers and a few other details, but most people will be hard-pressed to distinguish it from the regular Audi A8. That’s good or bad, depending on how fast we want to go without being noticed, or how much attention we need.
In Europe, the S8 will be available in regular-wheelbase format, but in the United States and Canada, as well as Asian markets such as China and South Korea, Audi’s supersedan will be offered exclusively with the longer wheelbase. The car’s cockpit includes multicontour seats with optional ventilation and massaging, Valcona or Unikat leather upholstery and a Bang & Olufsen 3D Advanced sound system.
The 2021 Audi S8 should arrive shortly. Pricing hasn’t yet been announced, but we guess it will start at around $150,000.