MotorTrend test team cycles through hundreds of vehicles a year, and an old pro like road test editor Chris Walton has been in and out of thousands of them during his career. So when he starts waxing poetic about a car like the 2022 Audi S8, you better believe we sit up and take notice.
"Wow. What a sleeper," Walton said of the S8 super sedan we recently had in for testing. "It's way too easy to find yourself driving 90 mph without noticing it. I could live with this car for the remainder of my life." That's a bold statement, Chris, do go on. "The whole thing kind of shrinks around you and makes it feel like an S6. Goodness, what an achievement this thing is."
He's right, of course, about all the sleeping and shrinking 2022 S8 does. This particular car looks downright menacing, as well, thanks in large part to its Daytona Gray pearl paint scheme offset by a Black Optic Plus package ($2,100) that adds 21-inch, 10-spoke gloss black rims shod with summer tires, and other blacked-out elements including Audi's famed four-ring badge adorning (what else?) a bold black grille.
There's also some menace in its exhaust note, a bombastic baritone that bellows out from its 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8, which produces 563 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque. The engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission that proved smooth and quick under hard acceleration. It all works in concert to move the S8's significant 5,204-pound mass with authority.
Audi S8 0-60 Mph Time: Very Impressive
Given its prodigious poundage, the 2022 S8's 0-60-mph time of 3.7 seconds is darn impressive. Its Quattro all-wheel-drive system and attendant sport differential certainly don't hurt matters when you're firing it out of the starting block, and the S8 also has a launch control feature that further aids the cause.
The test team reported some issues getting the S8 to launch right—but when it does, it launches hard. "Because the window of optimal boost and rpm is brief, and if you miss it you must wait a bit before trying launch control again. But when everything works, you get neck-snapping acceleration. Very harsh shifts from 1-2-3," road test analyst Alan Lau noted.
Audi S8 Quarter-Mile Time: Low 12s Will Do
After hammering past the 60-mph mark, the 2022 S8 barreled its way to a quarter-mile time of 12.2 seconds at 113.0 mph, again, a heck of a number for a car of its size and class. It's hard to find an apples-to-apples comparison to the 2022 S8 given its curb weight and configuration other than maybe the BMW Alpina B7 xDrive or the last-generation Mercedes S63 AMG, as most of the 2.5-ton machines we've tested in the past few years are either
SUVs or EVs.
Interestingly, one of the closest EVs we found to compare the S8 against is another Audi, the dual-motor E-Tron GT Prestige sedan, which weighs in at 5,095 pounds. That car hit 60 mph in 3.6 seconds and on to a quarter mile of 11.9 seconds at 118.8 mph. Of course, the E-Tron doesn't get the S8's twin-turbo terror of a V-8, but you won't have to pay a gas-guzzler tax or live with the S8's officious inefficiency, either (it's EPA rated at 14/23/17 mpg city/highway/combined). Different power strokes for different folks.
S8: Getting Its Oversteer On
As for the rest of the 2022 Audi S8's overall abilities, once again, with the "for its weight" caveat out of the way, its stopping distance of 105 feet from 60 mph is as impressive as its acceleration. Lau reported the following: "The brake pedal feel seems to be tuned with a good balance between comfort and performance. It's not overly touchy and easy to modulate. When it comes to very aggressive braking, they get the job done very well." Walton added that the brakes were "tremendous and easy to modulate to just stay barely out of the ABS" during his testing.
But it was out at our figure-eight (24.4 seconds at 0.79 g avg) and skidpad (0.95 g avg) tests where Walton truly fell in love with the S8 and its capabilities. "The way it turns in makes it feel so much smaller and lighter," he wrote in his notes. "The steering is a bit vague in feel but very precise. The car takes a very neutral attitude, just barely dancing on
oversteer. The way it drives off the corner with the all-wheel drive (the S8 also comes standard with a four-wheel-steering system) is phenomenal."
Comfort, Plus A Whole Lot More
So yes, the S8 does things cars of its size, heft, and weight distribution (55/45 percent front/rear) have no business doing from a performance standpoint. But when it comes to its other mission as a cosseting luxury limo, all play and no relaxation can make for a bone-jarring bad time. That's where the S8's Comfort+ setting and its optional predictive active suspension ($6,000) come in to help smooth the road ahead. As with other systems of its type, the predictive suspension uses a camera to read the oncoming surface, sense jarring impacts or other undulations, and react accordingly to soften the S8's ride.
In addition to the fancy active footwork, the 2022 S8 has all manner of standard and optional luxury trappings (this particular S8's black interior, trimmed with carbon accents, looked stealthy chic), as well as safety systems and other craftsmanship befitting a car that starts at $118,995 and rang up at $135,595 as tested.
It's a car you won't see many of to begin with and one that you can be assured won't be around for much longer in its present configuration. It's a special sport sedan for a chosen few. So if you happen to be in the Los Angeles area and see one blow past you, it could very well be a certain
MT staffer at the wheel (if he robbed a bank or raided his 401(k) to get one, that is). Be sure to say hi—if you can catch him.