The 2017 Audi S8 Plus is Mind Bending
We weren’t expecting to get the 2017 Audi S8 Plus for a week, it showed up as an alternate to the new Audi A5, which had to go on an Audi photoshoot. I can’t complain, when we drove the 2016 version it was one of the quickest accelerating full size sedans we’ve ever driven. Underneath it’s fairly conservative exterior (our tester came in Mythos Black Metallic) lurks a supercar waiting to be unleashed. Not a whole lot has changed in a year, which is both good and bad. Still lurking under the hood is Audi’s magnificent twin-turbo V8 pumping out 605 hp @ 5,800 rpm and 516 lb-ft @ 5,500 rpm – 553 lb-ft on over-boost. 0-60 mph is still dispatched in a very short time. We were unable to match the 3.42 seconds due to very hot conditions and the best we could muster was 3.6, still ridiculously fast for a 4,685 lb sedan. Once on the move the all 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. So there’s no doubt it’s fast.
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 always had to settle for Comfort. Not this time though, it seems Audi has improved the steering and Dynamic mode now gives you some 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. Overcook it by entering a corner too fast and solid braking is required to get the car back in line. 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 eye watering $11,000 option on our test car.
Open the door and sit yourself down in the very comfortable 22 way, yes twenty two way, power seats and the first thing you notice, well I noticed, is the 200 mph speedometer. Unexpected in this type of car. As I said before there is some bad to this story, the S8 is beginning to show it’s age (An all new one us due next year). It’s missing Audi’s latest infotainment technology and while the system it has is reasonably responsive and free of fuss, it’s somewhat dated. The biggest pet peeve is the lack of traditional USB ports, instead there’s an IPhone compatible connector that shuts off the music if you plug in for power. No matter, the interior of the S8 Plus is still a great place to hang out, especially with the massaging seats on. The cabin is whisper quiet and road noise is kept to a minimum, thanks in part to the noise cancelling system and the thicker double pane glass. That said, while driving down the Interstate, a rock hit the windshield pretty hard and created a quarter sized starfish crack which quickly spread to become more than 2 feet long. Ouch…….
Seats are heated and cooled with side bolster adjustment keeping you stay in place when you hustle 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 people that rode in the big Audi likened their own cars to a wheelbarrow afterwards. Rear seat passengers get heated seats and blinds to keep out the sun.
Out tester’s base price was $115,900, $1,000 more than last year, but with options was $148,000, slightly cheaper than our 2016 tester. I began to search frantically to see why and then I realized that car had been optioned with the matte silver paint. I had thought for a second I was missing a gadget or two. This is what happens to you when you play in the upper echelons. As before the options list is massive including 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.
As I said before an all-new A8 is due to be unveiled next year, and it will use the aluminum-intensive MLB Evo modular architecture. The next S8 is unlikely to launch in 2018, it will have to wait for new A8. The current S8 Plus is one of the most sensational large sedans I’ve ever driven with otherworldly acceleration, incredible interior quality and supreme comfort. Only the Mercedes S63 comes close but it’s still slower than the big Audi. The Audi simply 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 13.2 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 oatmeal.
2017 Audi S8 Plus Numbers
|PRICE AS TESTED||$148,000|
|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 over-boost|
|CURB WEIGHT||4,685 lb|
|0-60 MPH||3.42 sec|
|30 – 70 MPH||2.84 sec|
|50 – 70 MPH||1.7 sec|
|EPA CITY/HWY/Combined FUEL ECON||15/26/18 mpg|
|OBSERVED FUEL ECONOMY||13.2 mpg|
|PROS||Can do the Kessel Run in 14 parsecs, beautiful interior|
|CONS||Dated Infotainment System, no USB connector|