Too hot in the heels Rob’s reportThe first drive of the Audi RS 3 is our first time behind the wheel of the 2022 Audi S8, a large luxury sedan that delivers an extra dose of sportiness. It would be hard to imagine more contrasting bumps that express the height of Audi’s performance.
As a Los Angeles resident, I’ve long been a believer that if traveling within California, Nevada, or Arizona, driving is “the only way to fly” (unless a friend is offering to fly privately). Multiply the numbers, and the timing is the same, except that instead of being rough-handed by the TSA and tucking into a straight-back seat the size of a monkey’s coffin, one can bask in the comfort of their own car. And in the case of the Audi S8, this is not only Which cars, or Which seat, but it’s a legitimate limousine that goes from zero to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds and keeps your seat cool all the way to the California-Nevada border.
I’ve never owned a true adult luxury car, although I’m way past the average age of a modern Rolls-Royce or Bentley customer. Instead, like Peter Pan, I clung tightly to my little car fantasies, whether it was a Porsche 911 or a Morgan Plus 8. In this context, the Audi S8 was a revelation, and yes, I should have known better. That’s just now, I’ve already transformed.
Driving 285 miles non-stop makes one grateful to have the S8, Audi’s largest and sportiest car, as your road travel companion. About 200 miles from Los Angeles, the highway suddenly became a quiet desert road, with seemingly limitless straight lines and sweeping curves across a landscape of gently undulating elevation changes. It’s the perfect testing ground from which to explore the vehicle’s handling and the locomotive-like traction of the 4.0-liter, 563hp, twin-turbocharged V-8 engine.
The vehicle’s character shifts from a sporty dynamic mode to a comfortable ergonomic mode with a simple swipe of a finger on the 10.1-inch central touchscreen. The dynamic setup takes advantage of Audi’s predictive active suspension, a $6000 option that uses a camera to scan the road, adjusting every angle to smooth out road irregularities in coordination with the standard sport air suspension. Dynamic all-wheel steering and optional 21-inch 10-spoke wheels with summer rubber improve handling. Flaunting 590 foot-pounds of torque, the model delivers power with ease, manned by a Quattro all-wheel drive system – with a sport differential – and a smooth eight-speed Tiptronic transmission.
Back in the house, I park my beloved hot Fiat 500 parallel to the S8 hid only the front half of the Audi, exposing nearly the entire value of the Fiat behind. This means that the S8 is an impressively long sedan, with a spacious rear passenger compartment like that found in most cars. If one gets the impression that the back seat is the place to be, that’s only partly true, as the S8 is a rewarding car to drive quickly, even on less-than-ideal roads. It devours the highway and the straight, and does it so comfortably and quietly that its pilot arrives utterly refreshed, especially after a day in the diamond-coated front seat, adjustable in unlimited number of ways, blowing cold air and massaging.
Audi has always been called upon for having the finest interiors in the business. In the case of the S8, it’s a combination of Valcona leather, carbon fiber, and aluminum discrete inlays. The infotainment, connectivity and driver assistance systems are comprehensive and – most importantly – understandable.
The understating carries over to the S8’s exterior as well, with sharper lines and, dare we say, sportier than the outgoing model. The single-frame front grille is wider, with LED headlights with a digital matrix design. At the back, OLED taillights and four powerful exhaust pipes distinguish the S8 from the A8. However, this car, with a starting price of $ 116,900, will never attract undue attention. In soft Daytona Gray Pearl Effect paint, with an optional $2100 Black Optic package, the S8 becomes the ultimate stealth sedan, with performance and luxury to go the distance in comfort and style.