Acceleration was strong but uneventful, as no playing on our behalf was allowed. The Audi transmission upshifts for you even in manual mode, basically killing any chance we had for faster times by manually shifting it. We did manage quicker times by using a torque-brake start, and with the transmission stalling at around 2,000 rpm it did allow a more aggressive launch. Through the gears, the engine pulls quickly and smoothly but with a wonderfully subtle rush of power. Despite our not being allowed to have fun with it, the automatic shifts nicely with quick manual-mimmicking shifts. If you didn't know and were just listening to the engine/transmission during its shifting, you'd swear it was a stick-shift car.
Solid numbers from our Audi with less than 4 feet difference covering the four runs that we made. Our best effort came on the second run from 60 and on the first run from 30. The numbers the S8 generated are not the best for its class, though the way it goes about making the stops is impressive, with little movement in the lane and an ABS system that was not too intrusive.
This vehicle has a light, tossable feel to it that belies its 4,068-pound curb weight. It feels more like a sports car than a luxury sedan, and the slalom times confirm this. Faster than some sports cars, the S8 has a nicely sized, quick-turning steering wheel that still allows road feel through the tips of your fingers. The ESP is not intrusive unless you get really out of control and then it can step in to help save the day. Neil G. Chirico