Audi S8 2023 Review | Goodwood Test

Prodigious ability with pretty much uncompromised refinement…
30th November 2023
Ben Miles



Massive luxury barges that go extremely fast are not rare these days. So how does the Audi S8, one of the longest in the tooth, stand out from the crowd? Or more importantly what should a luxury fast car be?

Are we aiming to be as lairy as an M5 while being a bit bigger? Or do we want to just speed up how fast we get there without compromise? Audi thinks the answer is very much the latter. So the S8 is geared for super speed without dialling up the heartbeat. Is that a good thing?

We like

  • Impressive handling
  • Brilliant screen integration
  • Ludicrously fast

We don't like

  • Not exciting to drive
  • Small compromises in luxury
  • Subtle styling could be underwhelming



The A8 wears Audi’s current design language perhaps better than any of the rest of the range. That could simply be because of its size. The Audi grille – now long outgrown the old goatee nickname – is so massive that on some of the current range it looks almost comical. But with the A8 being over five metres long and nearly two metres wide it doesn’t look so mental.

The S bits aren’t in your face either, perhaps befitting a car that still targets refinement. There’s some chrome bits here, quad exhausts there, but nothing like the massive chins and overt bumpers of Audi’s other sporting products.

Performance and Handling


The S8 is geared up to showcase an ability to cover ground quickly all the time. There’s 570PS (420kW) on tap from the 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8, sent through an eight-speed automatic gearbox to an all-wheel-drive system that’s the same as found on the standard A8.

It’s certainly grunty. There’s 800Nm (590lb ft) on tap, which means the S8 can dispatch 62mph from standing in just 3.3 seconds – for comparison the vaguely bonkers Bentley Flying Spur Edition 12 is half a second or so slower. When you do summon that performance it doesn’t haul itself like the lumbering beast you might expect. It might be 2.2 tonnes but with Audi’s all-wheel-drive experience and some extremely clever suspension work it’s able to keep itself quite flat and attack that sprint without fuss.

And it’s that suspension system that turns the S8 from lumbering elephant on the charge into calm carver of corners. It has a predictive suspension system which can read the road using forward facing cameras and pre-set the suspension for what’s coming up. So theoretically it can pre-respond to potholes or get the front ready to bite for an upcoming apex.

In practice that doesn’t make the S8 a complete drivers’ car, but it does create an absolute weapon for getting from point to point. The driving experience is quite flat because the car has been setting itself up to be ready for each corner. There’s also rear-wheel steering to reduce how long the wheelbase feels. Engagement isn’t high, but you can feel confident that when you sling the S8 into a corner with unfeasible haste it’s both ready and able. 

That clever suspension also means that the S8 can return to calm cosseting with nary a blink. Calm your driving down and the S8 will revert to luxo-barge levels of zen, acting like an A8 in no time at all. That ensures that owners of the S8 aren’t sacrificing the qualities they expected from the A8 to get that bit more performance.



If you don’t like screens, then this marketplace really doesn’t provide you with any alternative. So we’re not even going to get into a button vs screen debate. The S8 has almost as many screens as the Currys that recently closed down on the high street – coincidence we think.

Two sit in the centre, one in front of the driver. They control absolutely everything. The top screen in the centre is 10.1 inches and the bottom is 8.6. Upper is for navigation and infotainment, lower for controls climate etc. as well as replacing the old trackpad, the one you used to write your destination on.

It is, as you would expect, all excellently put together and about as ergonomic as this number of screens can be. Haptic feedback on those screens makes using them a lot easier than many, giving you a physical reference to your actions.

Technology and Features


It makes no sense to try and list what the Audi S8 has. In short, if you can think of it, it’s probably there. Over the standard A8’s spec sheet you can expect to find a thicker rim, bigger alloys, sportier front seats and metal pedals. You do lose the ability to recline the seats in the rear, which the A8 has, but considering the Panama Canal has less room than the S8’s rear it’s not a massive loss.

Obviously those screens are standard (since you find it in the A6 it would be weird if you didn’t in the big one), as is Amazon Alexa integration, sat-nav, climate control and Audi’s virtual cockpit in the dash. That is still by far and away the best integration of screens into a dashboard that’s been seen in a car.



The S8 has a very specific market. People who want to get somewhere very, very quickly and very, very unfussed. For that, it is the perfect car. Very little else provides anything like the ability to cover ground so rapidly.

Some rivals do offer extremely fast cars in this space, but they have all at some point sacrificed something for that speed. The Flying Spur Speed has a looser traction control system, the S-Class’s AMG variant is a bit mental. While those aim to be something of a “drivers’ car”, the S8 doesn’t pretend to go for that. Instead it brings prodigious ability with pretty much uncompromised refinement.


Engine 4.0-litre turbocharged V8 petrol
Power 571PS (420kW) @ 6,000rpm
Torque 800Nm (590lb ft) @ 2,050-4,500rpm
Transmission Eight-speed automatic, all-wheel-drive
Kerb weight 2,220kg
0-62mph 3.8 seconds
Top speed 155mph
Fuel economy 24.6mpg
CO2 emissions 260g/km
Price £108,820

Our score

4 / 5

This score is an average based on aggregated reviews from trusted and verified sources.

  • What Car?
    5 out of 5
  • Top Gear
    4 out of 5
  • CAR Magazine
    3 out of 5