Audi’s Ballistic Missile
When we drove the 2015 Audi S8 back in May last year we asked the question ………what about an RS8? Of course an Audi badged as an RS8 would be confusing seeing as they already have the R8 2 seater supercar. At the time we tested the S8 we thought it was a pretty fast full size sedan, with its 520-hp twin turbo V8, we got it to 60 mph from standstill in a blistering 3.8 seconds. Audi wasn’t done though and they decided to up the power to 605 hp, an 85 hp bump making the 2016 Audi S8 Plus the fastest-accelerating S model and the quickest S8 ever. Not only did they increase power but torque was bumped up by 35 lb-ft and at over 4,000 rpm the S8 Plus overboosts to 553 lb-ft of torque, for a total of 72 lb-ft more than the regular S8. Audi worked on the engine management software, modified the exhaust valves, and upped the boost on the turbochargers. Audi claims 0-60 mph in 3.8 but considering the old one achieved those numbers, we expected the Plus to knock a couple of tenths off. Where the Plus really shines is its ability to gain speed above 60 in a never ending surge. Time after time we checked our speed and gasped. You have to be going pretty quickly to feel like you are going fast in this car, so 70 mph feels like a crawl.
We strapped on the VBox testing equipment on a fairly warm day (76 F). With traction control off and the A/C off I mashed my left foot onto the brake pedal and the right onto the gas. The trick is to take your foot off the brake like it’s on fire. Even I was surprised with the results: 0-60 mph was dispatched in 3.42 seconds ……astonishing for a 4,650 lb sedan!
The important passing maneuver results were just as exceptional with 30-70 mph taking 2.84 seconds and 50 – 70 mph in a scant 1.7 seconds. During testing the car was pulling
Performance and Handling
Base models are electronically limited to 155 mph, but our car came absolutely loaded and included a “Dynamic Package” that raises the top speed to 190 mph. Its easy to believe the Plus can achieve this as a small stab at the go pedal and you are going way quicker than any one else. Amazingly the 190 mph models are still speed limited to a degree. With all electronic limiters removed S8 Plus would be able to reach 205 mph.
As usual we spent all of our time in Dynamic Mode including the steering which in the past has felt dead and we have had to always settle for Comfort. Not this time though, it seems Audi has improved the steering and Dynamic mode now gives you decent feedback. The Adaptive Sport air suspension was uncanny in its smoothness and combined with an Active Noise Cancelling system that pumps sound through speakers, the Plus is virtually silent. Not completely though, which is a good thing. With the exhaust in Dynamic mode it makes very pleasant warbly noises when you come of the gas and the V8 can still be heard under hard acceleration.
Normal driving is simply not possible in this car due to the fact that a small prod on the throttle results in ballistic missile speeds. All other cars seem to be driving especially slow and you find yourself getting irritated until a glance at the speedometer and you are doing nearly triple digits. Several stretches of the 94 East in San Diego has tiny stretches of broken lines, which in most cars are not long enough to pass slower traffic. No such problems in the Plus, a quick look, mash the pedal and 2 seconds later you are past. Sensational!
The big Audi doesn’t just go fast in a straight line. With its trick rear differential it can pass all its power to the rear wheels if needed. Understeer is virtually eliminated and you can hustle the car round turns at fairly high speeds. The big body does roll a bit but we never felt like it couldn’t handle anything we asked it to do. We were always confident of its speed and agility. So too with the brakes, the front discs are massive (15.7 in) and ceramic, meaning no fade for us. The rears are also huge at 14 inches. By the way the ceramic brakes were an $11,000 option on our test car. Slightly eye watering.
The S8’s interior is nothing short of brilliant with extremely comfortable front seats, 22 way power, including massage, which was very popular in the office. Heated and cooled with side bolster adjustment mean you stay in place when you huslte the beast through the turns. As expected the interior quality is exemplary with soft feel plastics and leather everywhere including a suede headliner. So much cow. It really is a nice place to be. In fact most testers likened their own cars to a wheelbarrow after driving the big Audi. Rear set passengers get heated seats and blinds to keep out the sun.
Out tester’s base price was $114,900 but with options was $152,975, which included a Bang & Olufsen advanced sound system ($6,300); Audi design selection including full leather package, piano black shift lever, black Alcantara headliner, Carbon Twill copper upper inlays ($5,500); Dynamic Package which included Carbon Fiber rear spoiler, Ceramic Brakes, Top Speed Limiter an Sports Exhaust with black tips ($11,000); Driver Assistance Package with Active Lane Assist, Audi Pre-Sense Plus and Adaptive Cruise Control ($2,100); 21-inch 5-double arm-Rotor-design with titanium finish, and 275/35R21 summer tires.
We thought the 2015 Audi S8 was and is is one of the most capable large sedans we’ve ever driven but the Plus is simply sensational with otherworldly acceleration and supreme comfort. Only the Mercedes S63 comes close but it’s still slower than the big Audi. It doesn’t look like it would go as fast as it does, it’s the perfect sleeper. Nothing this side of a Ferrari is as quick in a straight line. The only downside I can think of is the depletion of my bank account having filled the beast up with Premium several times because I averaged 11.5 mpg for the week that I had it. You could get a Tesla P85 D but you would have to wait 9 months. No, if I had the money I would head on down to my local Audi dealer today.
The morning they came to pick up the car, I wept into my bowl of Cornflakes.
2016 Audi S8 Plus Numbers
|PRICE AS TESTED||$152,975|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINE||4.0L twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8|
|POWER||605 hp @ 5,800 rpm|
|TORQUE||516 lb-ft @ 5,500 rpm – 553 lb-ft on overboost|
|0-60 MPH||3.42 sec|
|30 – 70 MPH||2.84 sec|
|50 – 70 MPH||1.7 sec|
|EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON||16/26 mpg|
|OBSERVED FUEL ECONOMY||11.5 mpg|
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