REVIEW: Audi S8 Quattro is a high-performance wolf wrapped in luxurious skin

Published Oct 18, 2023


By: Mpho Mahlangu

In a motoring landscape filled with all sorts of high-performance SUV offerings, it goes without saying that the performance sedan is a dying breed.

Refreshingly though, the likes of Audi are still offering these, and I recently spent time testing the ultra-luxurious and high-performing S8 Quattro sedan which went under the knife towards the end of 2022.

Wrapped in a striking Ultra Blue colour and riding on 21-inch 10-Y-spoke Evo style alloy wheels in an Anthracite Black hue, the Audi S8 Quattro is undoubtedly a good-looking ‘limo’.

Up front, the wide single-frame grille has been widened, and now boasts chrome design elements which see an increase in size from top to bottom. The standard Digital Matrix LED headlights have also been refreshed and they perform a unique sequence when the vehicle is brought to life.

At the rear, the Audi S8 benefits from OLED taillights which have four different designs to choose from the infotainment system. These taillights also perform a unique sequence when the vehicle is brought to life, with an LED light bar also present and spanning the width of the rear of the S8. So, in the looks department, this high-performance limo certainly stands out and wins this writer over completely.

The interior is where the magic happens, with plush and luxurious materials found basically everywhere. Fitted to my test unit was the optional Audi design selection Pastel Silver which costs a pretty penny at R105,000. This option adds a luxurious feeling suede-like trim on several surfaces in the cabin. My only gripe would be keeping these trimmings clean over an extended period. The same goes for the seats, which after less than 7,000km driven on my test unit by various motoring journalists, were already showing signs of wear.

The rest of the interior is what you would expect of a luxury limo which costs just under R2.8 million. The overall fit and finish is commendable to say the least. A security guard at my local shopping centre described the cabin as “a king’s living room on wheels” and quite frankly, I absolutely agreed.

Greeting the driver is a leather-wrapped multi-functional steering wheel with only a few physical controls, opposed to those that are touch sensitive, for controlling media and customising the Audi Virtual Cockpit Plus. The level of customisation is quite comprehensive, a nifty feature which I appreciated. The infotainment system is bright and crisp and rather easy to use however in some instances the system was rather slow to react to touch inputs.

Separate from the infotainment system is a digital display which only houses the climate control settings. If I’m honest, I much prefer physical climate control buttons however the digital display in the S8 is easy to get accustomed to after a short while.

The rear end, which is arguably the party piece in the S8, and perhaps where most owners will spend their time (or will they?) is a sublime place to be sat in.

My test unit came fitted with the optional rear seat package which also boasts individual electrically operated outboard seats. This optional extra will of course be more suited to individuals who will be often chauffeured. Folding down the middle compartment between the two outboard seats reveals a set of controls for various functions such as adjusting seating positions and controlling the two-zone climate control. Of course, there are blinds for the rear windows to keep prying eyes away.

Comfort at the rear seats is second to none. Head, leg and knee room are more than ample, even for tall adults. This along with the added ability to adjust the outboard seats to recline for an even more comfortable seating position results in a rear seat experience which has indeed been designed with passengers in mind.

Moving on to the oily bits of the Audi S8 Quattro - under the bonnet is a 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 which delivers a potent 420kW and 800Nm of torque to all four wheels via the capable Quattro system. Cog duties are handled by an eight-step Tiptronic transmission.

To say that the Quattro all-wheel drive system is superb at its duties would be an understatement. During my testing the heaven’s opened up a great deal, and even with the roads soaked with rain, the S8 Quattro was able to launch from standstill in an impressive fashion without any fuss in finding traction.

My biggest gripe was its noticeable turbo lag. Even with both the Drive Select and transmission dialled to their most aggressive settings, there’s no running away from this. Shifting the gear-lever to its manual mode, which offers quick shifts, does help, but only just. However once the turbos get going, so does the large limo. Its acceleration is quite brutal! Think 0-100km/h in 3.8 seconds at the coast, according to claims.

The heavy rains over Gauteng also gave the perfect opportunity to see how the high-performance limo fared in terms of handling prowess. The simple and short answer is superbly. Measuring just under 5.2m in length and weighing just over 2.8 tonnes, the S8 Quattro shouldn’t handle particularly well, however this is far from reality. Fitted as standard is a self-locking sport differential which essentially aids fast cornering by actively distributing torque between the rear wheels.

Not paying careful attention to the speedometer may result in clocking illegal speeds before you get a chance to say “oops!”. Dialling everything down to ‘Comfort Plus’ on the Drive Select transforms the S8 Quattro to a sublime, mile-crunching cruiser. This is where the predictive active suspension comes into its own.

The suspension does an incredible job at ironing out any road imperfections. More so, upon approaching speed humps, the vehicle’s front camera can detect these and quickly raise the predictive active suspension.

Further to this, the predictive active suspension can raise and lower the vehicle by up to 50mm to aid getting in and out of the vehicle – quite a nifty feature for a low-slung performance limo.


With an asking price of R2,759,000 without options, the Audi S8 Quattro undercuts its closest German rival, the BMW M760e xDrive, by quite a margin (R331,000). This puts the S8 Quattro in a unique position, where it’s practically in a league of its own when it comes to high-performance luxury sedans.

As such, the S8 Quattro appeals a great deal to those shopping in the sub R3 million regions. It offers a great deal of luxury appointments, impressive comfort levels, and the performance capabilities to match too.

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