A kind of clarity is required to translate impressions of the 2016 Audi S8 Plus to you, the reader—not detachment, necessarily, but a calm. This is a difficult state to attain when the first thing that flashes into your head on sight of the S8 Plus—and this will be the first thing that flashes into your head—is all the coolest images and sounds from the Transporter movies and/or the classic car chase from Ronin. It’s a big, hyper-powered rolling tank of a German sedan; the thought is enough to make a certain kind of driver giddy.
With an as-tested price just over $152,000, the S8 Plus is for a very certain kind of driver, indeed, though it’s hard to say you don’t get your money’s worth. The 2016 S8 Plus packs the same 4.0L TFSI V-8 as the blistering RS7, albeit with a different tune to make it a bit more “civilized,” befitting the top-of-the-line Audi sedan. Civilization still counts for 605 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque when the S8 Plus is in overboost. Combined with ZF’s eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, Audi claims 0-60 mph at 3.7 seconds, but it feels even faster. The 4.0L is glorious; you feel an instant swell of torque as you give it gas, the intensity building all the way to redline. The Tiptronic is excellent, never leaving you wanting for a different gear, channeling all of the S8 Plus’ massive power as directed.
On the road, the speed of the S8 Plus is titanic. You can approach triple-digit speed literally before you know it; thanks to the bank-vault-like quality of its interior with the windows up, the sensation of speed is easily lost. On some occasions I drove it with the window cracked, letting the wind act as a guide so I didn’t accidentally get carried away.
As if it needed to be, the S8 Plus is gorgeous inside and out. Our test car came with the Black Optic package (carbon-fiber and high-gloss black trim pieces—$5,500), Audi’s Design Selection package (full leather black interior with Arras Red stitching, red carbon twill upper relays, Piano Black shift lever—$5,500), and was finished in Florett Silver ($6,000). The seats are ultra luxurious—like sliding into a Bentley seat.
The bottom line is that the 2016 S8 Plus is everything it should be, and if Audi sold it with a set of good hair clippers and a tailored black suit as a Jason Statham cosplay package, you would still have to admit how good it is at being exactly what you expect. You can even, with a flick of a few switches, completely enshroud the rear cabin, leading more than a few friends to ask if they could simply ride along in the back.
The big, bad beaut
I haven’t driven the S8 Plus back to back with the Mercedes S-Class and the BMW 7-series on the same roads, same day, so I can’t tell you which one is the best car. I have driven all three cars but at separate times. All three are amazing in their own way and while they do compete with each other, appeal to very different owners.
It’s strange to talk so much about the driving experience of a car more than 200 inches long and weighing in at more than 2 tons; this isn’t a sports car. The S8 doesn’t try to hide its size, but instead makes it clear it allows the driver to beat the laws of physics into submission at will. But that still is not the reason I would buy the S8.
Again, this is my opinion based on driving different cars at different times. This is not a scientific comparison and I’m not saying one car is necessarily better than the other. What I am saying, is that if it were my money, my donuts and I are taking the Audi.