What is it?
The Audi S8 sits at the intersection between the firm’s luxury and performance cars, attempting to combine the mile-crushing comfort and refinement you expect of a limo with the power and driver engagement you demand from a supercar.
That’s a tough brief, especially when faced with accomplished rivals such as the Mercedes-AMG S63 and BMW M750Li. And while previous generations of the S8 have been well-regarded all-rounders, they haven’t quite nailed that oh-so-demanding limo-meets-supercar brief.
This new S8 sits atop the line-up of the latest A8 executive saloon. In order to upgrade the already technology-packed model, Audi has crammed in even more tech and its turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine. With 563bhp, the new unit has 34bhp more than the top-spec version of the previous S8 and a healthy 590lb ft of torque.
Power is sent through an eight-speed automatic gearbox, which offers Audi’s manual Tiptronic controls, to all four wheels - although a clever sport differential adjusts the power sent to each wheel as required. There’s also high-tech adaptive air suspension that's designed to bolster both the S8’s ride and handling.
We’ve previously tested - and been impressed by - the new S8 in Germany, but this is our first chance to find whether can still achieve an admirable mix of refinement and performance on the UK’s rougher, bumpier and narrower roads.