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2009 Audi S8

Overview
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2009 Audi S8 Review

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Just as sports cars are getting more comfortable, luxury cars are becoming more athletic. A key enabler on the luxury side is the latest generation of dynamic suspension systems that can change from firm to soft in a matter of milliseconds and eliminate the need for engineers to seek one particular compromised spot between ride and handling. Combine a system like that with a big V10 engine and a lightweight aluminum structure and you've got a very impressive and competent luxury sedan that can also satisfy the most serious enthusiast. The 2009 Audi S8 is just such a vehicle.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you've grown perfectly comfortable in the lap of luxury but occasionally miss the fun you used to have in a BMW 3 Series, you may find happiness in the 2009 Audi S8.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If one of the reasons you're looking to drop some $100,000 on your personal transportation is for the attention that often accompanies such a move, the S8 might be a little too visually understated for your liking.

What's New for 2009

New S8 features include standard Advance key, a rearview camera, a power trunk opener, a power rear sunshade and power door closers.

Driving the S8
Driving Impressions

All the electronically-enhanced suspension sophistication in the world can't change the laws of physics, which is why we were so surprised to have as much fun as we did in...

... Audi's sizeable 4,500-pound sport-luxury sedan. It might not be as nimble as the S6, which isn't as agile as the S4, but it's no less eager to charge a canyon road or a looping on-ramp. In highway cruising mode, road noise is more pronounced and the ride isn't quite as soft as we're used to in cars that cradle their occupants in such luxury. But, if it were our $100,000, the S8 just might be at the top of the list.

Bang & Olufsen Sound System
Comprising 14 speakers, 1,000 watts and front tweeters that retract down into the dash when the car is turned off, the A8's optional B&O audio system is among the most sophisticated (and expensive) factory sound systems ever.

Alcantara Headliner
There's just something about the S8's suede-like Alcantara headliner that ups the warmth and exclusivity factors by several notches.

2009 Audi S8 Details
2009 Audi S8 photo Interior

Trimmed in brushed aluminum and excellent wood or carbon fiber, the S8's cabin perfectly complements the car's sport-luxury character. A suede-like Alcantara headliner gives a particular richness to the interior, while an optional full leather upgrade adds leather to the dash and doors. Audi's MMI system is less confusing than BMW's iDrive system, but not as intuitive as the newest COMAND system we've sampled in Mercedes' latest S-Class. The backseat is big enough to make you question the necessity of the car's long-wheelbase A8L cousin.

Exterior

Depending on whom you ask, the S8's subtle styling is either one of its greatest strengths or one of its biggest weaknesses. Either way, the newest S8 and A8 are more easily distinguishable from each other than in previous years. Working from front to rear, the S8 has a revised front grille and fascia, unique 20-inch wheels, S8-emblazoned brake calipers, aluminum-like mirror housings, a trunk lid-integrated rear spoiler, four oval tailpipes and, of course, unique badges. The S8 also features Bi-xenon headlamps and bright white LED daytime running lights.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The S8's long standard equipment list includes a DVD-based navigation system, a Bose Surround Sound audio system, Audi's MMI central control system, leather seating and wood trim, along with more of the niceties you'd expect to find in a $100,000 automobile, including a full complement of front, side, side-curtain and knee airbags.

Optional Equipment

It turns out that $100,000 doesn't buy you everything nowadays. Some of the 2009 Audi S8's fancier options include a $6,300 Bang & Olufsen sound system, radar-based adaptive cruise control and a solar panel-equipped sunroof that powers the ventilation system to help keep the car cool in hot parking lots. Other options, such as heated rear seats, heated steering wheel and rear seat pass-through with ski sack are available in the new Cold Weather Package.

Under the Hood

With a slightly larger, direct-injected, 450-horsepower version of the 500-horsepower V10 found in its Lamborghini Gallardo corporate cousin, the S8 will sprint to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds on its way to an electronically-limited top speed of 155 mph. A six-speed Tiptronic transmission (featuring steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters) directs the power to a rear-biased quattro all-wheel drive system. In addition to a sportier adaptive air suspension, the S8 also gets a more direct steering ratio and bigger brakes than the A8. With the advantage of an aluminum space frame, the S8 weighs only 100 pounds more than the smaller S6.

5.2-liter V10
450 horsepower @ 7000 rpm
398 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/19

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