Audi unveiled its current A8 to the world roughly two years ago. When we saw S8 prototypes completely uncovered at the Nürburgring last year we assumed a reveal was nigh, but it actually took Audi another year to unwrap up its large ‘Bahn burner. That time has finally arrived, as we greet the new 2020 Audi S8 in all its 563-bhp glory.
That figure will undoubtedly be the takeaway for just about everyone interested in Audi’s big performance saloon. The S8 trades the six-cylinder from the standard A8 for a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8, and it is rather gutsy. In addition to prolific horsepower, the mill generates 590 pound-feet of torque, something a car weighing almost 2,300 kg sorely needs. It also incorporates Mild Hybrid technology with a 48-volt system for stop-start functionality, something which Audi says helps with both efficiency and performance.
Big power requires big responsibility to keep it under control, which is why Audi fits the S8 with predictive active suspension as standard equipment. This system can raise and lower each wheel individually to control movement in a variety of situations, not the least of which being rough roads where forward-looking cameras can detect potholes and adjust the suspension accordingly. Beyond that, set Audi’s drive system to dynamic and the trick suspension limits body roll to approximately 2.5 degrees. In comfort, the suspension will lean the saloon a full 5 degrees to help absorb lateral forces. Quattro all-wheel drive with all-wheel steering and a sport differential further enhance the S8’s manoeuvrability at both low and high speeds, while optional carbon-fibre ceramic brakes (measuring 16.5 inches in front and 14.6 in the rear) help bring the big beast to a halt.
Exterior-wise, the S8 is properly subtle. Aside from the snazzy five-spoke wheels and S badging fore and aft, only a keen eye would spot the slightly more aggressive front fascia with redesigned corner intakes. Things are a bit more obvious at the rear, where a set of quad exhaust tips replace trapezoid outlets on the A8. Upgrades are similarly understated inside, with the S8 getting an exclusive upper inlay made of Carbon Vector that creates a special 3D effect. Matte aluminium trim and diamond-stitched seats with embroidered S badging also set the super saloon apart from the A8, and the cockpit is just as jam-packed with digital screens and tech. In fact, Audi says a fully optioned S8 has no less than five radars, six cameras, twelve ultrasound sensors, and yes, a laser scanner.
The standard-wheelbase S8 is featured in the photo gallery above, but there will be a long-wheelbase model which is only confirmed for the U.S. market at this time. Available to order in the UK in the autumn exclusively in standard wheelbase form, first deliveries commence in late 2019.