Despite its aggressive stance and supersized footprint, Audi's halo A8 remains - at least figuratively - invisible on the Audi showroom. It may be more dynamic than the BMW 7 Series, and more youthful than the Mercedes S-Class, but in a text and tweet society the A8 is - at least figuratively - the fax that never gets delivered. In the US, Audi's media team is using coach Phil Jackson to change that; in Frankfurt, they're using the S8.
Described by Audi as a large, luxurious sedan of supreme power, the S8 takes a significant step toward sensibility in its newest iteration. Benched is the 5.2-liter V10 and its consumptive ways. And into the game comes a new 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, shared with the S6 and S7 Sportback. With 520 horsepower (100 more than its smaller siblings) and 480 lb-ft of torque, the S8 delivers fuel efficiency some 23 percent better than its 'Big Ten' predecessor.
Of course, in the luxury market there's more to the argument than the powertrain. In the S8 you'll ride on adaptive air suspension with variable damping, providing three levels of ride height. Steering ratio and assisted boost is also variable, self-adjusting to changes in the S8's speed. And with Audi's drive select dynamics, drivers can choose between five different modes: Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, Individual and Efficiency.
Utilizing Audi Space Frame (ASF) construction, the biggest Audi is a relative lightweight (4,350 lbs.) in the segment. Less weight makes for both better over-the-road performance and (relatively) stellar efficiency. It also puts less stress on the drivetrain, allowing brakes and suspension components to perform better while lasting longer.
With increasing attention paid - even by the affluent - to a combination of performance and economy, this may (finally) be the A8's time. But its S8 variant will still get the bulk of the attention.
See more coverage of the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show.
|DAVID BOLDT began his automotive career in BMW and Saab showrooms in the 1980s, and he moved to automotive journalism in 1993. David has written for a variety of regional and national publications, and prior to joining AutoTrader, he managed media relations for a Japanese OEM.|