With the discontinuation of the standard Audi A8, the A8 is offered in long wheelbase versions only, dubbed A8 L. There are four trims and four engines within the A8 L family. The 3.0T model utilizes a supercharged 3.0L V6 that makes 333 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque; it is capable of accelerating to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. The 3.0L TDI features a turbo-diesel V6 that makes 240 horsepower and helps make some impressive fuel economy numbers. The new 4.0T Sport trim includes a twin-turbocharged V8 that makes 435 horsepower and 444 pound-feet of torque and can rocket to 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds. Finally the top of the range is the 6.3L, which packs a 6.3-liter W12 engine that produces 500 horsepower and 463 pound-feet of torque.
Long-wheelbase A8 models offer incredible rear-seat room. They add about five inches of overall length and wheelbase to what used to be the standard car, and most that equates to added legroom in back.
The Audi S8 variant is the pick for the performance-minded. It packs a special high-output version of the 4.0 TFSI, making 520 horsepower and 481 pound-feet of torque -- good for an incredible, supercar-like 0-60 mph time of 3.9 seconds.
Throughout the A8 and S8 lineups, acceleration, all-weather traction, and overall handling stability are aided by Audi's quattro all-wheel drive system. In the S8, a sport differential is added to the system to aid high-performance handling and stability and an adaptive damping suspension helps make the most of its handling and added responsiveness without negatively affecting ride quality. Upgraded ventilated disc brakes -- 6-piston in front -- help give the S8 stronger stopping performance to match its high-speed potential, and showy 21-inch wheels are included in that model.
Separately, a Sport Plus package adds an adaptive air suspension plus dynamic steering, the sport differential system, and summer performance tires. Throughout, an Audi Drive Select system also allows the driver to adjust throttle and transmission response as well as steering feel and other characteristics, with Comfort, Auto, Dynamic or Individual settings.
No matter the A8 model, it has a luxurious interior that matches the best of both classic executive-car cabins with some of the fine, almost custom-look details of bespoke ultra-luxury cars. Interior trims include matte-brushed aluminum, ash brown wood, layered oak wood, or Carbon Atlas in the S8, and heating, ventilation and massage are included in the front seats in the S8.
A8 V6 and V8 models come with fuel-saving start/stop technology that automatically turns the engine off when the vehicle is stopped at a light and automatically restarts, almost instantaneously, when the brake is released. EPA fuel economy ratings range from a high of 24 mpg city and 36 mpg highway for the TDI model to 13/21 mpg for the W12-powered 6.3L model.
6.3L models stand out from the rest of the model lineup. They offer an available Executive Rear Seat package with recline, a footrest, massage and heating and cooling. A rear entertainment system is also offered on that model that includes Bluetooth wireless headphones and a system that can even project map displays to passengers.
The navigation displays in the A8 lineup are unique. The Audi Connect system can display panoramic views as well as 3D Google Earth views, plus live traffic information from SiriusXM Traffic. The system also includes mobile hot-spot capability, through its built-in data connection, as well as Google Voice Local Search plus other information apps.
Even base 3.0L models include Audi connect, a rear-window electric sunshade, a garage-door opener, Bluetooth connectivity, Bose surround sound, a dual-zone climate-control system, proximity entry and ignition and a power sunroof.
Noteworthy extras include new LED headlamps with a high-beam assistant, available on the A8, standard on the S8 and W12 models, the Sport plus package and a new Sport Design package that upgrades the look and feel of A8 3.0L or 4.0L models. The optional Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound system packs 1,400 watts and 19 speakers in all.
The speedometer in the 2016 Audi S8 plus creeps towards 140 mph as I barrel down the back straight on Daytona International Speedway's road course. My sedan feels planted, which isn't surprising for a model bred for bombing down the autobahn at triple-digit velocities, but there's a tight "bus stop" chicane at the end that I have to navigate all 4,700 pounds of Teutonic sedan through. I mash the brake pedal to scrub speed and turn in, transitioning left and then right, feeling understeer briefly before the rear end comes around, proving the torque-vectoring rear differential is doing its job. The exercise is without much drama, and it's wildly entertaining.
The speed, the brakes and the handling are traits you'd expect from a sports car, but find them in an otherwise coddling full-size sedan is a little shocking. The S8 Plus builds speed at an alarming rate and then slows quicker than it seemingly should, all with its air suspension keeping things tidy in high-speed turns. But this is the reality of the modern high-dollar sport sedan, where engineering and technology are pushing performance boundaries to result in cars like this new-for-2016 Plus, a model even faster and more capable than its S8 predecessor.
Following visual updates in 2015, Audi has unlocked an additional 85 horsepower from the S8 Plus' 4.0-liter turbocharged V-8 engine to push output to 605 for 2016. Torque also climbs from 481 pound-feet to 517 pound-feet available at just 1,700 rpm and all the way up to 6,000 rpm. If that's still not enough twist, an overboost function ratchets things up more to 553 pound-feet between 2,500 and 5,500 rpm if you so desire. A new turbo, engine software changes, exhaust valve enhancements and upgrades to the cooling system help make the output increase possible. To cope with the additional power, Audi gave the eight-speed automatic transmission stronger clutches and the mapping program from its RS 7. This results in an official 0-to-60 mph time of 3.7 seconds.
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