Congratulations, that big promotion finally came through, and along with it, a new company car. So go big or go home. Never mind the modest A8 L, with the sensible six-cylinder. The Earth-moving A8 L with its powerful W12, perhaps? No way. You didn't get to the top by being timid or ostentatious, so you choose the new-for-2016 S8 Plus, with a 605-horsepower version of Audi's 4.0-liter, twin-turbo V8, available with an $11,000 Dynamic package that adds ceramic brakes, a sportier exhaust, a rear carbon fiber lip spoiler so tiny you are surprised it does anything, and a boost in governed top speed from 155 miles per hour to 190. Yeah, that's the ticket. The 85-horse boost in power over the outgoing S8 comes from different valve timing, new exhaust valves, and modified turbochargers. The S8 Plus is docile enough around town to carpool to the company luncheons, but point it towards some wide open spaces, and it's a blistering executive express. Driving Notes Much of our Florida test was done in conditions ranging from damp to deluge. Despite the fact that the Audi had summer tires on its 21-inch wheels, the S8 was startlingly sure-footed. Thanks, Quattro all-wheel drive, and a set of better-than-expected Dunlop tires. Power is linear and progressive, and the eight-speed Tiptronic transmission is prepared to downshift at a moment's notice, but is never busy or intrusive. We seldom used the manual shift paddles behind the steering wheel. The comparison between the Dodge Charger Hellcat and this S8 Plus is admittedly absurd, but they are big, heavy, four-door cars with monster motors. And while the Hellcat wants you to hear and feel every engine revolution and supercharger whine, the S8 Plus does all it can to shield you from the drama taking place under the hood. Which is why you look down and suddenly you're going 90. "Dynamic steering" allows for adjustments in steering feel, and we weren't fans in the stiffest setting – it felt notchy and artificial. Comfort mode felt more natural and still gives you all the feedback you need. "Adaptive sport air suspension," though, we had no problem with. It makes short work of potholes and irregular pavement, but firms up when you are cornering – admittedly, in Florida, we had to seek out the rare corners. This is a state with roads designed using a T-square. The aluminum body weighs just 510 pounds. The overall weight of 4,685 pounds, though, means there is still a lot of mass to slow down and steer through corners. At least that mass is concentrated down low, helping reduce body roll. The weight, though, makes for a superb highway ride – solid and unshakable. There's a Black Optic exterior package that includes carbon fiber mirror housings, a black single-frame grille, window surrounds, a carbon front spoiler blade, diffuser trim, and darkened taillights. We like it, but aren't sure about the matte silver paint, which was certainly striking, but we'd hate to ask the corner body …
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|MPG||15 City / 25 Hwy|
|Transmission||8-spd auto w/OD|
|Power||520 @ 5800 rpm|
|Drivetrain||quattro all wheel|
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