2022 Audi S8 First Drive Review: High Performance, Low Profile

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Done up in Mythos Black and fitted with the $2,100 Black Optic Plus pack, the 2022 Audi S8 definitely flies under the radar. But with a bangin’ V8 engine, great road manners and some of the best cabin tech available in any car at any price, the stealthy S8 should not be ignored.

Audi simplified the A8/S8 lineup for 2022, quietly discontinuing the V8-powered A8 60 and plug-in hybrid A8 60 E. That leaves just the six-cylinder A8 55 on the base end and the S8 up top, both of which get redesigned headlights and grilles, as well as vibrant new hues like District Green and Ultra Blue — you know, in case car noir isn’t your thing.

The S8 is a lot cheaper now, too. It starts at $117,995 including $1,095 for destination, which is a not-insignificant $12,480 drop. How’d that happen? Audi restructured the options and packages across the truncated A8/S8 range, so while the 2022 S8 has the same performance specs as before, it has fewer standard features. Since there’s no A8 60 anymore, this makes the S8’s V8 slightly more accessible.

New headlights and a redesigned grille are the most obvious 2022 model year updates.

Audi

This also means you have a bit more freedom when it comes to optional extras, as S8 buyers aren’t forced into a fully loaded sedan. The aforementioned Black Optic Plus package will let you live out your inner mall goth, while the $3,800 Executive pack adds fancy amenities like adaptive cruise control with lane-keeping assist, 21-inch wheels and traffic sign recognition. If you’ll have passengers on the regular, I highly recommend the $5,900 Rear Seat Comfort option, which jettisons the back bench and adds a pair of chairs that are heated, cooled and have massage programs. This also lets your back seat riders take advantage of additional power outlets, folding tables and heated armrests. Your pals will love you.

No matter how you option it, every S8 comes with Audi’s awesome Virtual Cockpit tech, which is still the standard bearer for digital gauge clusters after all these years. The S8 also has the company’s MMI Touch multimedia suite, with a 10.1-inch upper screen that controls the usual infotainment functions, as well as an 8.6-inch lower screen that houses climate and vehicle controls. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, and Audi’s haptic controls are some of the best in the business, instantly recognizing inputs with tactile feedback. Voice commands are easier than ever thanks to improved natural speech recognition, and that 8.6-inch bottom screen turns into a writing pad when you’re using the onboard navigation or online search tools. Just write “tacos” and bam, it’s lunchtime.

I can’t really advocate eating tacos inside the S8, however, only because its cabin is so stinkin’ nice and I’d hate to make a mess. The leather is soft as heck, the metal trim looks and feels great, there’s tasteful ambient lighting everywhere and the thick glass keeps outside noise where it belongs. The S8 has sporty-looking front seats with extra side bolstering to keep your body in place if you feel like hustling, and rear passengers have stretch-out legroom for days.

Audi’s cabin tech absolutely slaps.

Audi

Should those passengers insist on getting some tacos (and why wouldn’t they?), Audi’s $6,000 Predictive Active Suspension will be a crucial upgrade. This 48-volt anti-roll tech actively scans the road ahead and can unload the springs at individual wheels to account for things like potholes and speed bumps. Few other full-size luxury cars ride as smoothly as an S8 equipped with this suspension tech, and with fewer g forces transmitted to occupants, the chances of party fowl taco spillage are greatly reduced.

The 48-volt system is also a boon for handling, since it can raise or lower the suspension on either side of the car, flattening out body motions while cornering. This keeps the S8 balanced and composed, letting you better exploit the power from the V8.

None of the S8’s performance metrics change for 2022. The twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 continues to push out 563 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque, allowing this 5,126-pound, all-wheel-drive porker to accelerate to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds. That’s nearly as quick as Audi’s rear-wheel-drive R8 supercar, and the V8’s immense torque keeps the S8 rolling strong to its 155-mph electronically limited top speed.

Simple design makes for an elegant sedan.

Audi

The S8 is a very big car, but it’s shockingly agile on tight canyon roads. The standard rear-axle steering helps a ton, virtually shortening the wheelbase by allowing the back end to more quickly tuck into corners. A standard sport rear differential offers assistance here, too, sending power to the outside wheel with the most grip when needed — an extension of Audi’s already superb Quattro all-wheel drive.

Driving in Dynamic mode, the eight-speed automatic transmission shifts seamlessly and precisely, with a cute little burp on overrun as you move up through the gears. Like other Audis, the S8’s steering could be heavier, but it in no way lacks feedback, offering good communication of what’s happening at road level despite the added layer of electronic suspension wizardry. Powerful brakes bring everything back to reality when it’s time to settle down and cruise back through town, and a click of the Drive Select toggle is all it takes to have you back in Comfort Plus, floating over undulations and enjoying that big sedan life.

The breadth of the S8’s dynamic range is arguably its greatest asset, and the top-notch comfort and tech just makes the whole package sweeter. Audi might not be able to match the flash of a fancy Mercedes-Benz S-Class, but keeping a low profile really isn’t so bad with the S8’s confident power and poise.

Editors’ note: Travel costs related to this story were covered by the manufacturer, which is common in the auto industry. The judgments and opinions of Roadshow’s staff are our own and we do not accept paid editorial content.



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