2018 Audi A8 Driving Impressions

When you read the term lightweight aluminum chassis, it only means that aluminum weighs less than steel. It doesn’t mean that the car is light. The A8 might be your best example (among very few), it comes out pretty porky, at 4670 pounds fully equipped.

But the chassis and suspension engineers scored an ace, in making the A8 feel as light and nimble as a full-size car can feel. It’s a complex suspension, which the Quattro system understands, to make the A8 feel sure-footed in corners. The front-to-rear torque split varies from 40/60 front/rear, to 60/40 front/rear.

The supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine is very responsive and has fabulous torque down low. It’s not especially smooth, and can be noisy when the throttle is way down. Acceleration to 60 mph takes 5.5 seconds.

The gearshifts in the 8-speed automatic are smooth, quick, well-spaced, and well-programmed, which is to say they come at the right times, so no invasive surges. In manual mode, the paddleshifters can be used.

The 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8, with 450 horsepower, is basically the same engine as in the S8, with 605 horsepower. The difference is all in plumbing, breathing, and electronics. One thing that means is that the structure of the 4.0-liter engine is strong, strong enough to handle 30 percent more power without breaking.

Drive Select can control the response of the engine, transmission, steering, and suspension. Comfort, Auto, or Dynamic mode can move the car from sedate to dramatic. In Comfort or Auto mode, the transmission tends to shift quite early, and it downshifts a lot.

There’s also an Individual mode, so an owner can find the overall setting for how he or she likes the car to feel. There’s a lot of tweaking and awareness, to find that place. It’s not unlike adjusting an 18-way power seat, it takes some experimenting and moving around.

The S8 isn’t a hotrod, not even with 605 horsepower and 517 pound-feet of torque. It’s too smooth to be a hotrod. t. It’s an executive uber-car. The ultimate full-size luxury car, with the ultimate motor. It’s breathtaking in its power, and execution. With an 8-speed automatic, Quattro, adaptive dampers and air suspension, it’s got it all.

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