Review: Audi S8 (2012 – 2017)

Rating:

High performance S8 gets twin turbo V8 with 520PS. Plus version has 605PS. Remains relaxing and comfortable when driven gently.

Not cheap at more than £75k.

Recently Added To This Review

5 August 2015 Audi S8 plus introduced

Ramping up power from the 520PS offered by the ‘standard’ S8 to 605PS, the S8 plus is also capable of producing up to 750Nm of torque - the highest output of any Audi in the current model... Read more

31 August 2012 Audi S8 launched

The new 4.0-litre TFSI in the S8 generates no less than 520PS and delivers a constant 650 Nm of torque to the crankshaft between 1700 and 5500 rpm. The result is outstanding performance: the sprint from... Read more

Audi S8 (2012 – 2017): At A Glance

The Audi S8 is the new head of the Audi S model family, a large and luxurious saloon that can deliver sublime comfort or supreme excitement as required. The new 4.0-litre TFSI in the S8 generates no less than 520PS and delivers a constant 650 Nm of torque to the crankshaft between 1,700 and 5,500 rpm. The result is outstanding performance: the sprint from zero to 62mph takes just 4.2 seconds, and top speed is electronically capped at 155mph.

This makes the fuel consumption of the sonorous and smooth twin-turbo V8 all the more amazing: It averages 27.7mpg on the combined cycle, a considerable gain over its competitors and its predecessor, the 5.2-litre V10 in the previous S8 posted 21.4mpg in the equivalent test. This has been achieved despite a 70PS increase in output.

Despite its bonkers performance figures, the S8 is as easy to drive and relaxing as any other A8, provided the driver isn't too sudden with their right foot. Refinement is excellent, with very little noise intruding into the cabin except for a subdued growl from the engine. Ride quality is very good thanks to standard air suspension, although it does firm up noticeably in sports driving modes. 

Like any other A8 there is a cavernous back row with loads of leg and headroom, plus there are creature comforts like climate control for rear seat passengers. Up front, everything is electrically adjusted, plus there is a comprehensive infotainmeny system with Bluetooth connectivity. It's all very user-friendly and, being an Audi, it's effortlessly classy and very well-made. 

If you want your luxury limo with huge performance it's hard to do better than the S8. It might be expensive, but it doesn't have many rivals. The Mercedes-Benz S63 and S65 AMG models are more expensive than even the high-spec, 605PS S8 Plus - and neither offers better performance. That makes the S8 our favourite high-performance luxury saloon, despite the high price. 

Audi S8 Plus 2016 Road Test

What does a Audi S8 (2012 – 2017) cost?

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Audi S8 (2012 – 2017): What's It Like Inside?

Dimensions
Length 5146 mm
Width 1949–2111 mm
Height 1458 mm
Wheelbase 2993–2994 mm

Full specifications

It might be a high-performance car, but the S8 is still very luxurious. The front seats are electronically adjustable and heated, plus there is a high-quality, user-friendly infotainment system to control audio, phone connectivity and navigation. Fit and finish is excellent throughout with very high quality materials. There are also various optional finishes to suit individual tastes.

However, even if you try hard with the options boxes it’s difficult to make the S8 look anything more than restrained and subtle. That’s all part of the appeal – aside from details like the S8-specific exhausts, it’s more or less the same as any other A8.

And like in a standard A8, rear-seat passengers are well looked-after, with plenty of leg room and comfortable seats, along with separate climate control. There is a sizeable boot with a capacity of 510 litres - enough for four golf bags - although if you’re planning on carrying things like furniture the saloon body style will make life tricky.

Standard Equipment includes 20-inch alloy wheels, quatto sports differential, quattro all-wheel drive, S Sports adaptive air suspension, Audi Drive Select, BOSE surround sound audio, sat nav, DAB radio, 7-inch infotainment screen, leather upholsery, heated front seats, electric front seat adjustment with memory, active noise cancellation, keyless entry and go, climate control with sun sensor, electric rear sunblinds, Matrix LED lights, sports exhaust, rear diffuser, 360-degree parking camera, double glazing, auto light and auto wipers. 

Child seats that fit a Audi S8 (2012 – 2017)

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What's the Audi S8 (2012 – 2017) like to drive?

The S8 comes with a 520PS twin-turbo V8 petrol, producing 650Nm of torque and yet, despite its power output, it has fuel economy of 27.7mpg. That's not great for a Ford Fiesta, but for a huge, heavy, high-performance luxury saloon it's tremendously impressive.

If the 520PS engine in the regular S8 isn’t quite powerful enough for you, don’t fret - Audi has just the thing. With the power dial turned up by 85PS to a quite possibly insane 605PS, the S8 Plus has supercar-humbling levels of torque, power and pace, but in a subdued, comfortable and luxurious package.

The S8 -and the S8 Plus in particular - is stupendously fast, getting from 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds. The 4.0-litre, turbocharged V8 in the Plus variant produces peak torque of 700Nm, or 750Nm with overboost, from 1750-6000rpm.  Acceleration is surging, effortless and unrelenting - and it’s accompanied by a purposeful but classily-subdued growl.

Transmission is an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic which is smooth and responsive, kicking down when required – which isn’t often thanks to the torque output. It has an S mode, which changes the shift pattern to hold on to gears longer, plus there is a manual mode which lets the driver choose gears via paddles behind the steering wheel.

The gearbox configuration is also linked to Drive Mode Select, which changes steering and throttle settings, as well as the firmness of the standard-fit air suspension and the amount of noise the engine makes. Drivers can also choose a custom combination of settings in Individual mode providing, for example, sharper throttle response with comfy suspension. 

Incredibly rapid though it may be, the weight and size of the S8 is always noticeable. It’s not as lithe or as agile as a sports car, meaning twisting routes with sudden direction changes are far from its natural environment. Yet, despite that fact, it is still incredibly capable, with huge traction thanks the quattro all-wheel drive system.

Thanks to is A8 base, the S8 Plus is also very comfortable and relaxing in everyday driving, whether around town or on a long motorway cruise. Refinement is excellent, as is ride quality when in the ‘Comfort’ drive mode, despite the huge 21-inch alloy wheels. 

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
4.0 TFSI 520 quattro 30 mpg 4.1 s 235 g/km
4.0 TFSI 605 quattro Plus 28 mpg 3.8 s 231 g/km
4.0 TFSI quattro 28 mpg 4.2 s 235 g/km

Real MPG average for a Audi S8 (2012 – 2017)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

78%

Real MPG

19–27 mpg

MPGs submitted

59

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What Cars Are Similar To The Audi S8 (2012 – 2017)?

Key attributes of the this model are: Large boot, Motorway cruiser, Performance car and Luxury.

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What do owners think?

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