Audi S8 (2022) review: facelifted super-limo driven

Published:15 February 2022

Audi S8 (2022) review: facelifted super-limo driven
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By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, occasional racer

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, occasional racer

► Audi S8 updated for 2022
► Tested on road and autobahn
► From £102,610 as of Feb 2022

The regular A8 series having been given a fresh lick of chrome, it’s now the Audi S8 performance car’s turn for a facelift for 2022. From a wintry Munich, here’s our drive of the most potent version of Audi’s refreshed limo.

You can read the review of the updated Audi A8 here.

Wintry, you say?

Our first drive was in cold temperatures on winter tyres, in predominantly dry weather but with enough sleet and snow swirling in the air to make surfaces slippery – so please read the dynamic impressions with those caveats firmly in place.

Okay. First of all, though, what’s new?

New ends, front and rear – bumpers, lights, grille. Boom, easy.

The latter has a new design with flecks of brightwork scattered across it, a little like a houndstooth pattern rendered in chrome. The arresting effect is rather undone by the fake vents in grey plastic just above the foglights; something you might be inclined to put up with on an A3 but not on a superlimo with a six-figure price tag.

The grille’s also available in non-chrome, blacked-out form in the S8 Black Edition trim.

s8 2022 rear static

The lights are now all-digital front and rear. If buyers pick the top Digital Matrix system on Vorsprung models, they’re equipped with millions (not an exaggeration) of microscopic (nor is that) mirrors, capable of concentrating powerful beams of light into graphic patterns and light shows, throwing the beam further and wider to illuminate hazards and actively avoid dazzling other road users. At the rear, the tail-light graphic is worn broadly, with a connecting lightstrip bar across the bootlid.

The basics beneath are still the fourth-generation S8 we first met in 2019 – the 2022 S8 is a facelift rather than a brand-new car. As before, you can’t buy a long-wheelbase S8 in the UK, even if such a variant exists for the North American and Chinese markets. Not that the short-wheelbase one is a short car, at 5.2m (17 feet) long.

A tech-fest inside?

Yes and no. There’s the now-familiar twin-touchscreen setup, with a 10.1-inch display above an 8.1-inch screen with a give-it-a-good-prod haptic set-up, almost akin to pushing a real button. There’s the latest voice control software too, which can be triggered by calling ‘Hey Audi,’ or by button. The overall impression is relatively old-fashioned, however; horizontal dash architecture, upright centre console and a mix of piano-black and gloss carbonfibre trim.

s8 interior 2022

The seats, trimmed in leather and suede in this test car are superbly comfortable, particularly in terms of lumbar support, although a lack of under-thigh support for drivers with long legs might start to tell on a long journey.

Audi A8/S8 interior quality remains first-rate and start-up brands such as Lucid have told CAR they consider it a benchmark for the luxury saloon segment.

How fast is the new Audi S8?

Very. Power (563bhp) and torque (an elephantine 590lb ft) come from the same 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 as seen in many a swift VW Group luxury product, Porsche Panamera, Bentley Continental and Audi RS6 among them.

Equipped with a mild hybrid system here, its torque delivery is creamy smooth and extremely potent. Official 0-62mph time is 3.8sec; not bad for a 2.2-tonne limo. But its real strength is accelerating from middling speeds to high, dispatching overtaking opportunities or building to an autobahn cruising speed in short order.

s8 2022 front tracking

Top speed is governed at 155mph.

The V8 includes cylinder-on-demand tech for fuel-saving, though an official 24.6mpg figure indicates this is still as thirsty as you’d expect of a heavy supersaloon. The engine suits the car’s character; it’s quiet and unobtrusive when you want it to be, and with a gruff but mellow rumble under acceleration (albeit one that’s artificially enhanced by the sound system).

At speed on the autobahn, overall refinement is impressive with little intrusive road and wind noise, and high-speed stability is reassuring in cross winds too.

What’s the transmission like?

It’s an eight-speed Tiptronic (for which, read torque-converter auto) and it does its job nicely. Shifts are smooth whether in auto or manual, and it’s happy to provide downshifts relatively early on the paddles. Manual mode really does mean manual, too – if you’d like to leave it in fifth and let the torque drag the car around, it’ll let you.

Like all current A8 models, the S8 is all-wheel drive, with a self-locking centre differential. A mechanical ‘Quattro sport’ differential at the rear helps make the S8 a little more agile than the regular A8, and it has its own tuning for the air springs and adaptive dampers. They’re linked to a complex ‘predictive’ active air suspension system, which in Comfort Plus driving mode resists body roll with electro-mechanical actuators at each corner to vary the pressure on each wheel for the smoothest possible ride and minimised body roll.

In said mode, it rides like a cloud. There’s a bit of extra patter in Dynamic mode but it’s still extremely smooth-riding overall.

Audi’s Predictive Active Suspension: does it work?

It’s a big Audi sports saloon – let me guess, steering not exactly full of feel?

There’s little feedback, and the level of power assistance is very high, making it the sort of car you feel inclined to drive with your elbows balanced on the armrests and with fingertips to twirl the large wheel.

But it is a limo, after all, not a TT or R8. The light steering is a boon around town, as is the standard-fit all-wheel steering, helping to shrink the turning circle.

s8 2022 rear tracking

At higher pace the S8 does feel its size; it doesn’t shrink around you in the same way, say, a large AMG saloon or the old Jaguar XJR would at speed.

There are plenty of caveats; this test was on a winter day with sleet and snowflakes in the air, on winter tyres with squirmy treadblocks to further remove steering feel. But this feels more like a fast limo than a roomy supersaloon; a car designed for transporting passengers as much as for driver enjoyment. It’s better at wafting than it is at honing – which is fine, as long as that’s what you’re after.

Audi S8: verdict

The S8 is a car with sophisticated chassis technology, a sumptuous interior and phenomenal straight-line pace. But it somehow doesn’t feel as enthralling as those ingredients would suggest.

It’s a car which looks and feels old-fashioned now: the dated (albeit beautifully finished) interior trim, the overall three-box silhouette. The renewed S8 and the wider A8 family feel like the punctuation mark at the end of a story, before a bolder electric future is ushered in.

Specs

Price when new: £102,610
On sale in the UK: Now, UK deliveries March 2022
Engine: 3996cc 32v V8 twin-turbocharged, 563bhp @ 6000rpm, 590lb ft @ 2050rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed auto, all-wheel drive
Performance: 3.8sec 0-62mph, 155mph (limited), 24.6mpg, 262g/km CO2
Weight / material: 2220kg/aluminium and steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 5190/1945/1473

Rivals

Other Models

Photo Gallery

  • Audi S8 (2022) review: facelifted super-limo driven
  • Audi S8 (2022) review: facelifted super-limo driven
  • Audi S8 (2022) review: facelifted super-limo driven
  • Audi S8 (2022) review: facelifted super-limo driven
  • Audi S8 (2022) review: facelifted super-limo driven
  • Audi S8 (2022) review: facelifted super-limo driven
  • Audi S8 (2022) review: facelifted super-limo driven
  • Audi S8 (2022) review: facelifted super-limo driven
  • Audi S8 (2022) review: facelifted super-limo driven

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, occasional racer

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