Tuesday, May 23, 2017

2017 Audi S8 Plus Quattro: The German Brand’s Answer To AMG’s Performance Package

Highlight: The high performance S8 plus sedan is Audi’s answer to Mercedes-Benz AMG and BMW Alpina B7 trims.

Test Vehicle’s MSRP: $148,000 (base model $116,850)

Seating Capacity: 5

Standard Safety Equipment: airbags; ABS; electronic stability control system; a tire pressure monitoring system; an electronic parking brake; automatic headlights; heated windshield washer nozzles; a heads up display system; and a temporary compact spare tire

Standard Equipment: 21-inch wheels; all-wheel drive; an 8-speed transmission; a 4-zone automatic climate control system; a power tilt/telescopic steering wheel with memory; alcantara headliner; power sunroof; power rear side; power rear sunshade; heated and ventilated front seats; power operated massaging front seats; a navigation system; handwriting technology recognition system; a push button starter system; a keyless door opener; soft closing automatic front doors; power trunk with handsfree release; power folding mirrors; and leather seats

Optional Features On Test Vehicle: Dynamic package includes a carbon fiber rear lip spoiler, ceramic brakes, a top speed limiter of 190-mph, and a sport exhaust with black tips; a Bang & Olufsen Advanced Audio System; a black optic exterior package; Audi design selection, which includes black with Arras red stitching, carbon twill red upper inlays, full leather package and a piano black shifter; a Driver Assistance package which consist of an active lane assist system, Audi’s pre-sense plus and a radar-activated cruise control system; and a Cold Weather package, which consist of a rear seat pass through, heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel

Other Trims: A8

Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: a 630-watt Bose 14-speaker AM/FM/HD/ with satellite radio

Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes

USB Connectivity: Yes
Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 4 years or 50,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty: 4 years or 50,000 miles

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 4.0-liter, 8-cylinder/605-hp

Recommended Fuel: Premium Unleaded

Standard Fuel Mileage: 15-city/24-hwy

What’s New:  The brand’s performance sedan is literally a carryover for the 2017 model year. Audi tweaks the vehicle, adding new interior design selections like black leather seats with red stitching.

Why: This luxurious pocket rocket seats up to five, when the rear seat armrest is not in use, and is powered by an 8-cylinder engine that spews out 605-horsepower. Prior to 2016, the S8 was only pumping out 520-horsepower. Yes, at first glance, the vehicle’s exterior design doesn’t scream excitement. However, once inside the luxuriously appointed cabin, the Audi S8 plus tells a different story. Of course, when the hood is popped, there are a number of tell- tale signs that this isn’t a typical luxury flagship sedan.

The S8 plus, with its aluminum frame and panels, which zooms from 0 to 60 mph in under 4 seconds, tops out at a speed of 155 mph. Conversely, the S8 plus we reviewed, was outfitted with Audi’s Dynamic package, which increased the top speed of the well-proportioned, big body sedan to 190-horsepower. 

So, unfortunately or fortunately, depending upon one’s perspective, we did not dare push the car to its limit, although the Dynamic package included high performance ceramic brakes, which we know are designed to the stop the vehicle at the drop of a coin. In fact, this German flagship vehicle, with its precision steering and varying driving modes, also includes a standard heads up display system, allowing aggressive drivers to constantly monitor their speed in hopes of avoiding a premium increase.

Also, the S8 plus, which we reviewed was driven by Audi’s standard stout 21-inch titanium wheels. And the understand exterior design was highlighted by the German automaker’s optional Black exterior package, which included carbon fiber exterior mirror housings, a bold looking grill and darkend taillights. Moreover, to accentuate the package, our optional Dynamic package included a carbon rear lip spoiler, too. All of these subtle differences are what made this vehicle separate itself from the traditional S8.   

Further, this pocket rocket contained some of the latest optional safety driving aids from a radar activated cruise control system to an active lane keep assist system. All of this and more is what’s needed to keep the vehicle tamed and under control.

Lastly, this luxurious precision machine provided a level of interior craftsmanship that indicates Audi’s attention to detail from the soft close front doors to a touchpad that reads fingertip gestures to the crystal clear Google Earth mapping to the form-fitting well-composed power front seats,
 with massage settings.

But: The big body German luxury sedan did lack a few features. There were no USB plugs for android phones, just iPhones only. And the rear seat does not recline nor or the rear seat headrests power operated. Yes, for Christ sake, even the all-new Genesis G90 offers a power reclining rear seats for less than $85,000

Moreover, the S8 lacked such high-tech safety driving features as a pedestrian collision braking system.

Lastly, the high dollar optional audio system did not provide a crystal clear concert-like sound. The entry level Audi A3 and A4s we reviewed seemed to provide an audio system that complimented the vehicle.

Verdict:  The Audi S8, which is based off of the German brand’s A8 front-wheel drive theme, is powered by a standard all-wheel drive system. While Audi escapes it competitors, which are all driven by rear wheel drive systems, its light-weight aluminum architecture coupled with the brands German engineering system makes this a very competitive and capable vehicle, especially when one splurges for the high powered S8 plus.

And unlike its competitors, the S8 conservative design doesn’t scream that the owner has shelled-out $150,000 (or close to that if they're an aggressive negotiator). Although once behind the wheel of this 600-horsepower, one will be thankful to fly under the radar, especially on open roads.

Overall, the S8 undercuts the competition, offering a lower starting price and more horsepower!

Competition: BMW Alpina B7 xDrive, Jaguar XJR; Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG 4Matic and Porsche Panamera Turbo

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