Audi loves a good trickle. The automaker never releases an entire vehicle lineup at the same time, opting instead for a slower, steadier schedule that gives each tier a chance to stand on its own. We've already seen the more pedestrian variants of the recently revised Audi A8, so now it's time to turn up the wick.
On Tuesday, Audi unveiled the 2020 S8. That S signifies a much sportier intention in both performance and aesthetics, but underneath all that power is the same full-size executive luxury sedan brimming with posh bits. The star of the show lives under the S8's hood -- a 4.0-liter, twin-turbo V8 putting out 563 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. It comes mated to a 48-volt mild hybrid system that is focused on efficiency, enabling engine-off coasting and extended stop-start operation. The V8 can also shut down some of its cylinders for even more eco cred.
The S8's handling should be leagues above the standard A8 thanks to some clever upgrades. All-wheel steering is standard, which reduces turning circles at low speeds and improves lateral agility at higher speeds. Predictive active suspension is also standard, lifting or pushing down each corner of the car independently to mitigate body movements while the car is acceleration, braking or turning. The S8's front camera can also pick up weirdness in the road, adjusting the suspension to handle it. In addition, there's a new Comfort+ driving mode that leans the car's body into turns by up to 3 degrees for less lateral acceleration in the cabin.
If you really want to turn up the performance dial in your large-and-in-charge sedan, there's an optional carbon-ceramic brake upgrade. The upgraded setup includes 16.5-inch front rotors, 14.6-inch rear rotors and 10-piston front calipers. Yowza.
Of course, what good is a sportier car if it doesn't look that part? To that end, the S8 has slightly more aggressive front and rear bumpers, an exhaust system with extra tailpipes, unique wheels and optional OLED taillights. Inside, there's special trim, as well as sport seats with optional ventilation and massage functions.
There's always a boatload of tech in every new Audi, and the S8 is no exception. It packs the same comprehensive active and passive safety features as the A8, including a lidar emitter. It can hold its own lane in traffic, including stop-and-go traffic, and it's capable of raising the body if it detects an imminent crash to better protect the occupants. The excellent MMI Touch Response infotainment system is standard, as well as Virtual Cockpit, which wields S-specific graphics.
The 2020 Audi S8 is available to order starting in the fall in the UK, but it's unclear when it will come to the US.