Italy To Monaco In Ingolstadt's Crushing Performance Saloon I had an engagement a while back with the Audi RS5 Cabriolet in Monaco, and getting me from my lair in northern Italy by plane connection is an utter waste of time since the first flight is always to either Paris, Zurich, or Rome, three cities not at all on the way to Monaco. So I phoned Audi Italia about a quick loan of a car for the three-hour-ish drive to this event, and they were simpatici enough to propose that I keep whatever they gave me for two weeks. And what they gave me was a loaded Audi S8 with properly chosen 20-inch Dunlop SP Winter Sport treads attached. This was about to be a much cooler two weeks than I had planned. On the other hand, several colleagues looked at me and then at the car, and then said, "You'll love the thing until it's time to fill it." I was determined to show them all that the 23.8-gallon capacity of premium fuel would not break my will to love the S8 as though it were my own in everyday driving over the next fourteen days. As a cruiser... the S8 is one blissful experience. Having grabbed the key fob to the S8, it was immediately off to the silly little principality of Monaco over Italian autostrada and French autoroute for 280 miles. Not until the offramp for Monaco were there any bits resembling something dynamically challenging, so prior to that I concentrated on the cabin, the ride, and how it stacks up against competitors. As a cruiser at a steady 80 miles per hour while in eighth gear of the Tiptronic gearbox, with all parameters set in either (at one extreme) Efficiency or (at the other) Dynamic modes of the onboard Audi Drive Select, the S8 is one blissful experience. While the snow tires should have been transmitting more road noise, the cabin's noise reduction materials seemed to be keeping out most of it. There's also the fiber-optics-based Audi Noise Control that functions through the $6,300 Bang & Olufsen premium sound system, negating natural noises by producing varying counter frequencies. (We'll need to bring a family dog aboard the car to check whether the ANC drives Fido nuts at all. Mythbusters material, at least.) The average real fuel economy was a seriously impressive 24.4 miles per US gallon. Interior materials throughout this segment of cars are universally great to live with and sit on, so I cannot choose one as better than the others easily. Most likely, it's a very personal aesthetic preference. But the S8's standard 22-way adjustable front seats are as favorably enjoyed as the entire car itself, and the very typical precise workmanship and pleasant-to-touch surfaces of Audi reign supreme here as well. Then, using the MMI infotainment console dial together with both finger-touch writing and voice recognition, the S8 multitasks seamlessly as a rolling office, and all of its controls make easy sense. By the …
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|MPG||15 City / 26 Hwy|
|Power||520 @ 6000 rpm|
|Drivetrain||quattro all wheel|
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