For the CEO who wants a high-performance luxury sedan, Audi presents its new 2020 S8. Developed in 1996 as the sportier variant of the flagship A8, the S8 was the star of some memorable car chases in the 1998 action thriller Ronin.
Audi has enhanced the fourth-generation S8 significantly in order to offer a more powerful alternative to the dignified A8. The S8 may also suit those drivers who don’t want to wait for a new version of the 605-hp S8 Plus, which might be replaced by a hybrid plug-in S8 E-Tron, according to Adrian Padeanu at Motor1.com. The latest enhancements should help the S8 to stay level with rivals such as the Mercedes AMG S63 and the BMW Alpina B7, as well.
The S8 is available in Europe now. Buyers in the U.S. will see the car in dealerships later this year. In the meantime, here is a list of the 2020 Audi S8 essentials that you need to know.
1. A Faster Base Model
Audi has boosted the S8’s horsepower to 563 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque from last year’s 520 hp. It beats out its sibling the A8 by 103 hp and 103 lb-ft of torque. The new S8 also features an eight-speed automatic transmission.
It seems that the carmaker might have replaced its traditional Audi TFSI engine with a somewhat detuned twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 engine lifted from the Porsche Panamera Turbo for increased quickness. We’ll be able to confirm this when the S8 reaches U.S. dealerships later this year.
2. Mild Hybrid System for Efficiency
The new S8 now relies upon the same 48-volt mild hybrid assist as the A8. The system comes standard for 2020. It uses a belt-driven alternator-starter and a lithium-ion battery to save energy for the engine during coasting and braking.
Another feature that increases fuel efficiency is the V8’s cylinder-on-demand technology, in which the engine can deactivate half of its cylinders when operating at part-load efficiency.
3. A Smart Suspension System
Audi has added predictive active suspension to the 2020 S8 as standard equipment. The suspension system uses cameras to detect any irregularities in the road ahead and deploys air springs that can lift or push down each wheel to smooth the car’s ride accordingly.
When the S8 is in Comfort mode, the system can lean the car body into corners as much as three degrees. It also lifts the car slightly when a person enters or leaves the car after the door handle is pulled.
Supporting this system are four-wheel steering and Quattro all-wheel drive. The new S8 also has Audi’s sport differential. This feature adds torque vectoring to enhance the Quattro AWD by sending more power to the outside rear wheel, resulting in reduced understeer and improved cornering.
Handling is further improved by A8’s active anti-roll bars that are now standard on the S8.
4. Tech Features to the Brim
Besides the cameras used in the suspension system, the S8 is loaded with standard tech equipment that we hope will be included in the version coming to the U.S.
Safety-related features include an adaptive cruise assist system that links together adaptive cruise control, traffic-jam assist, and lane tracking. If a buyer chooses all the tech options, the S8’s central driver-assistance controller will be outfitted with five sensors, six cameras, 12 ultrasound sensors, and a laser scanner to gather information.
As on models such as the Q7, E-Tron, A8 and others, Audi’s MMI dual touchscreens that can be controlled by touch, voice, and Amazon Alexa are standard on the S8. Another high-quality entertainment feature is a Bang & Olufsen sound system with active noise cancellation.
5. Big Brakes for a Big Car
Carbon-fiber ceramic brake rotors 16.5″ in front and 14.6″ in the back are an option on the S8. Not only do these brakes provide excellent stopping ability, but they also make the car 21.2 pounds lighter as compared to the standard steel-rotor setup including calipers.
6. Understated Changes in Styling Both Outside and Inside
The small changes that Audi has made in the S8’s exterior give the car a sportier, more aggressive appearance. The front fascia has a redesigned bumper and corner intakes. At the rear, dual exhausts replace the A8’s trapezoidal outlets.
Five-spoke wheels smarten up the S8’s looks. And European S8s have optional matrix LED/laser headlights and OLED taillights, which may not be available in the U.S. due to safety regulations.
Inside the S8 are standard diamond-stitched seats with ventilation, massaging, and inflatable-bolster functions. Carbon trim inlay that has a special 3D effect and matte aluminum add subtle finishes to the interior.
7. Traffic Light Information System
In certain U.S. cities, S8 buyers will be able to opt for a system that enables the S8’s on-board computer to communicate with the city’s central traffic control server. Audi’s traffic light information system informs the driver of the legal speed required to catch the next green light. At a red light, the system tells the driver how long it will last.
8. Long-Wheelbase Only in the U.S. for Now
The photos shown here are for the short-wheelbase form of the presumably smaller, more agile S8 sold in Europe and other global markets. But, as with the most recently available A8, only the long-wheelbase form of the S8 will be available stateside. It’s anyone’s guess whether the short-wheelbase form will be eventually sold in the U.S.
According to Joey Capparella at Car and Driver, the S8’s MSRP will probably be set well above $100,000 when it reaches American dealerships sometime later this year. Audi hasn’t set a firm date for the 2020 S8’s U.S. availability, so fans of this sporty execu-sedan will need to stay posted for more news of its arrival stateside.