Audi’s previous S8, retired after the 2011 model year, was blessed with a brutish version of the 5.2-liter V-10 engine from its corporate cousin Lamborghini. It was also cursed (on occasion) with a whiplash-inducing jolt of acceleration off the line at every stoplight. Needless to say, while it was utterly fast, it was not the most forgiving everyday driver.
The Audi S8 is back for 2013 with an all-new 4-liter twin-turbocharged engine, which churns out 520 hp and 479 ft lbs of torque. The engine was developed in Ingolstadt, Germany, and is so finely tuned that Bentley (another of Audi’s corporate cousins) employs a similar mill in the Continental GT V8. This is especially fitting since the new Audi S8, as the German automaker’s top-of-the-line performance sedan, is swathed in Bentleyesque quilted leather and somehow manages to carry a statelier stance with glowing LED headlights and a massive grille.
To top it all off, Audi has developed a dedicated system to enhance fuel economy without compromising the S8’s sportier characteristics; the car still reaches 60 mph in 4.2 seconds. Under a partial load—like when cruising on the highway—the engine will deactivate four of its eight cylinders for improved fuel economy: a significant 25 percent better than the old, normally aspirated V-10. To keep the system’s operation completely undetectable from inside the opulent passenger compartment, active engine mounts under the hood quash engine vibrations and active noise cancellation inside the cabin nixes unwanted sounds.
Audi is undoubtedly firing on all cylinders these days. The S8—the company’s flagship model—is representative of the entire model line and the automaker’s dedication to becoming the number one German luxury brand in the world by 2020. (800.367.2834, www.audi.com)