Suggested price: 130,000
2013 Audi S8: executive-class rocket

Exotic sports cars are fun, but they're not very practical, and in many cases, they're not easy to climb into. Sure, they may attract a lot of attention, yet if the objective is to go fast, a car with less extroverted bodywork might be a better option for flying under the radar.

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Published on 2013/08/27

And why not share the experience with a few friends or family members? The 2013 Audi S8 is one of the quickest cars on the market, and can sit five in utter comfort. Okay, preferably four. And we're not saying Audi's big sedan isn't worth looking at – because it is – but the untrained eye might simply see it as a regular A8.

The S8 goes head to head with other high-horse sedans such as the Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG, the Jaguar XJ Supersport and the Porsche Panamera Turbo. Over at BMW, there isn't an M version of the 7 Series, but they'll probably be able to scrounge up an Alpina B7 for you.

Gangster style
The S8 boasts a sinister appearance, helped no doubt by the black paint job on our test car. It distinguishes itself from the A8 by its silver mirror caps, its slightly different grille design, its lower front air dam and the "V8T" badging on the front fenders. The car is striking, and yet it won't necessarily get your attention like a $100K sports coupe would. And that's the whole point.

The 2013 Audi S8's cockpit is lavishly finished and, unsurprisingly, blessed with a tasteful design. The quilted and perforated leather upholstery looks absolutely stunning, while the two-tone grey colour mix is pleasing to the eye.

The usual luxury features are all on-board, such as ventilated seats, power sunshades and the like. A $7K killer Bang & Olufsen stereo with tweeter speakers that rise from the dashtop when the car is started can also be added. The MMI infotainment system includes a touchpad that speeds up the process of entering a destination address on the navigation system. Scribble a letter with your fingertip on the pad, and MMI will guess which letter you're drawing; it works very well, and don't be surprised if competitors copy this.

Breathtaking performance
Those Germans sure know how to create engines that belt out outrageous amounts of horsepower in a small displacement. The 2013 Audi S8 is equipped with a modestly sized 4.0L V8, but it's force-fed by two turbochargers and features all the latest whiz-bang gadgetry you can imagine.

The result is an impressive 520 hp and 481 lb-ft of torque, funnelled through the brand's quattro all-wheel drivetrain. Thanks to that extra grip and a quick-shifting eight-speed automatic, the S8 can rocket to 100 km/h in about four seconds. That's mighty fast for a 4,600-lb sedan.

And yet, the acceleration numbers don't tell the whole story. How this car can lunge forward with so much urgency is amazing, and yet does it without the slightest harshness. What's also as surprising is that thanks to cylinder deactivation, fuel consumption is low as we averaged 11.5 L/100km during the test. In addition, a noise cancellation system in the car's cabin as well as active engine mounts smother the sound and vibration that happens with the V8 shuts down half its cylinders under relaxed driving.

While the engine's soundtrack is pretty enticing, it's doesn't have the throaty snarl of the previous-generation S8's 5.2L V10. However, 70 extra horsepower is a worthwhile trade-off.

The S8 also features an air suspension with comfort and dynamic settings. The ride is quiet and supremely refined around town, and the shocks can stiffen up nicely on twisty country roads. In short, you get the best of both worlds here.

What's not to like?
Good question. In a car of this price, and we're talking $150,000 with options, everything should be perfect, or just about.

Well, a middle passenger won't be comfortable in the back seat, although the fold-down armrest includes redundant MMI controls for those who want to be driven. Rated at 378 litres, the trunk looks big but isn't as spacious as what the competition offers. The thing that bugged me the most, however, is the transmission's spring-loaded T-handle, which requires extra attention not to shift from D to R instead of P, or P to N instead of D.

However, with mind-blowing performance, a refined drive and an exquisitely trimmed interior, the 2013 Audi S8 is the businessman's executive-class rocketship that's hard to fault. If you want exotic sports-car performance in a more comfortable, daily-driving package, look no further.

Family rating 

4/5: The optional rear-seat entertainment screens are in the way when attaching the child seat. As for the trunk, it easily accommodates our baby stroller sideways.

In collaboration with Canadian Tire.

Photos:


Editor’s Rating


Fuel Consumption

Surprisingly low for such an engine


Value of Price

More or less in line with its rivals


Styling

Sinister looks


Comfort

Great ride with adjustable suspension


Performance

Explosive acceleration, superb handling


Overall

Perfect for flying under the radar

Specifications

General

Car 2013 Audi S8 4.0 TFSI quattro
Body Style Sedan
Passengers 5
Doors 4
Luggage Capacity 374 L
Trailing Capacity 0 lbs
Cab

Performance

Horse Power 520
Torque 481 lb-ft
Cylinder 4 L V8
Transmission Semi Automatic
Drive Train AWD
Acceleration 4.1s
Top Speed 250 km/h

Fuel Economy

Consumption City 13.8 L / 100 km
Consumption Highway 8.3 L / 100 km
Fuel Capacity 90 L
CO2 Emission 5198

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