You've gotta hand it to the Audi A8. Last year, Mercedes-Benz launched the truly stunning S-Class, putting the rest of the high-dollar luxury flagship class on notice. With the brand-new S-Class turning heads and garnering all sorts of praise from the automotive press, classmates like the BMW 7 Series, Jaguar XJ and Audi A8 started to look, well, old. But Audi didn't see fit to just let its big sedan carry on and let the Mercedes take the cake. So when Audi refreshed its A8 line for the 2015 model year with only minor updates, I kind of shrugged it off as just a quick way to keep the big sedan fresh until an all-new, hopefully S-Class-trumping version arrives. But then I drove the S8 pictured above, and I'm no longer so sure the Merc's shadow is as big and imposing as it once was. Spoiler alert: the Audi S8 is simply fantastic. Driving Notes I could wax poetic about Audi's twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 until I'm blue in the face. This engine is such a damn sweetheart in the S6 and S7, but it's even more amazing here in the S8. Of course, that's because in this application the forced-induction V8 is pumping out 520 horsepower and 481 pound-feet of torque – gains of 100 hp and 75 lb-ft over the S7. Put to the ground via Quattro all-wheel drive, the 520-hp beating heart is able to propel the 4,685-pound S8 to 60 miles per hour in a scant 3.9 seconds. Less than four seconds for a massive sedan like this is downright impressive, though let it be known, the Mercedes S63 will stand toe-to-toe with the Audi in the same 0-60 sprint. But unlike the Mercedes, the Audi feels super light on its feet – it is over 100 pounds lighter than the brute from Stuttgart, after all. Straight-line acceleration comes on with a massively powerful rush, with a seemingly endless band of power that simply will not run out. There is no point in the engine's rev range where power is lacking, and the eight-speed Tiptronic automatic keeps things on boil with buttery-smooth ease. The thing is, though, I wish the Audi were a bit more boastful about its power. Even with the exhaust set to "Dynamic" in the Audi Drive Select module, there isn't much to be heard. There's a low, audible purr when stomping on the throttle, but it's just not as throaty and engaging as a Mercedes V8 roar. It doesn't even sound as nice as Audi's old, naturally aspirated 4.2-liter V8, or the 5.2-liter V10 from the previous-generation S8. I kind of get it – power with poise – but like many of Audi's latest S- and RS-badged creations, I'd like a little more in the way of aural stimulation. It's not so much an issue here in the S8 as it is in things like the S4, S6, and S7. But... still. That's a really nit-picky thing to complain about, I know, …
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|MPG||17 City / 27 Hwy|
|Transmission||8-spd auto w/OD|
|Power||520 @ 5800 rpm|
|Drivetrain||quattro all wheel|
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