Used 2007 Audi S8
Edmunds' Expert Review
Though the 2007 Audi S8's elevated levels of performance and handling fall a bit short of its competitors', the car's weather-beating all-wheel drive and stealthy exterior look make it the perfect alternative choice for a premium luxury sport sedan.
In the heady world of the ultra-luxury sport sedan, the 2007 Audi S8 stands proud. Like Mercedes-Benz's AMG and BMW's M divisions, Audi's S group serves as the company's in-house tuning firm. Over the past decade or so, Audi's "S" has become a respected badge among enthusiasts.
Based on the standard-wheelbase A8 (as opposed to the longer "L" version), the S8 boasts a V10 engine borrowed from the Lamborghini Gallardo. The V10 sends its power to all four wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. With 450 horsepower, it's not quite as powerful as it is in the Lambo, as it gives up some peak output for a broader powerband that's better suited to a luxury car.
Audi buffs will also know that this same engine is used in the company's S6 and is rated at 435 hp in that application. Even though the S8 is longer than the S6, it's lighter by some 200 pounds thanks to its virtually all-aluminum construction. As a result, the senior Audi should be quicker than the midsizer -- Audi claims a 5-seconds-flat 0-60-mph time for the S8.
In addition to the V10, the 2007 Audi S8 features a sport-tuned adjustable air suspension, 20-inch alloy wheels, upgraded brakes, unique front and rear fascias and front sport seats with 16-way power adjustment.
Of course, potential buyers will want to know which other ultra luxury sport sedans they should consider, and the truth is that serious driving enthusiasts would be better served by the BMW M5, which boasts blistering performance, sports-car handling and the availability of a manual gearbox. Those who aren't as into hard driving and who prefer an old-world luxury car feel may consider the Jaguar XJR, a still speedy sedan with an overtly plush cabin. The Maserati Quattroporte is another strong choice, with its Italian styling flair and sonorous V8. Mercedes' S65 AMG offers astounding performance (over 600 hp and more than 700 lb-ft) but it's about twice the price of the $92,000 S8.
In essence, the 2007 Audi S8 lies somewhere in the middle of this group, not as sporty as the Bimmer but more so than the Jag. This is a fantastic group of cars and in this segment it's often a matter of fine degrees or simply styling preferences that sway one's decision. Drive any that strike your fancy before spending the big bucks.
Trim levels & features
The 2007 Audi S8 is a high-performance version of Audi's A8 luxury sedan. It comes in one loaded trim level. Standard on the S8 are unique front and rear fascias, 20-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon adaptive HID headlights, full power accessories, dual-zone automatic climate control, a navigation system and Bluetooth connectivity. Additional standard features include a sunroof, a power tilt-telescoping steering wheel, a trip computer, auto-dimming mirrors, two-tone leather seating, heated/power front seats and a Bose audio system with glovebox-mounted CD changer.
Options include keyless starting, adaptive cruise control, rear climate control, a premium Bang & Olufsen audio system, front and rear park assist with a back-up camera, satellite radio, power door-close assist, rear heated seats and a power rear sunshade.
Performance & mpg
Powering the Audi S8 is a 5.2-liter V10 with 450 hp and 398 pound-feet of torque. It sends its power to all four wheels through a six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission that allows manual gearchanges via paddles behind the steering wheel. Audi claims a 0-60-mph time of 5.0 seconds and top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph.
Antilock disc brakes, stability control, a tire-pressure monitor and a full array of airbags (side curtain, front-seat side, rear-seat side and dual front knee) are all standard. A front and rear park-assist system is optional.
The V10 engine has a strong pull from just off idle through to redline it really has no weak spots. The downside of such a stout, linear power curve is that there's no thrilling point where it suddenly takes off. The automatic's gearchanges are smooth and quick, though there's some hesitation when a downshift is called for. The S8's power is best manipulated manually through the steering-wheel shift paddles, something enthusiasts will no doubt enjoy.
The S8 rides slightly lower on a sportier variation of the A8's adaptive air suspension. It still offers four suspension profiles to choose from -- Automatic, Comfort, Dynamic and Lift -- but each level rides a bit firmer compared to the standard A8 setup. In any mode, the handling is confident with virtually no body roll, and the ride quality is impressive, especially for a car sporting 20-inch cast-aluminum wheels.
The only weakness in the 2007 Audi S8's dynamic armor is the brake pedal feel. Though certainly capable stoppers, the brakes' pedal feel is too soft initially, and somewhat out of step with the solid, confidence-inspiring sensation of the chassis as a whole.
Alcantara covers the roof and rear package shelf, while leather, aluminum and birch accents fill the rest of the Audi S8's sumptuous cabin. Double-paned side windows contribute to the hushed cabin while the 16-way adjustable sport seats provide long-trip comfort and twisty road support in equal measure. Audi's MMI (Multi Media Interface) control for the climate and audio systems is fairly intuitive, unlike the systems in its homeland competitors. Trunk capacity stands at 15 cubic feet, while a ski pass-through adds versatility.
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Features & Specs
More About This Model
Long before Desperate Housewives and Arrested Development there existed a devious-family drama called The Lion in Winter. Early on in the play, the adulterous King Henry of England addresses the object of his infidelity, future daughter-in-law Alais, with the following line while arranging a wisp of her hair: "Let's have one hair askew; nothing in life has any business being perfect."
The same holds true for cars: None has any business being perfect, in spite of what Honda, Lexus and BMW have been scheming at all these years. And we're happy to report that it holds true for the 2007 Audi S8. It ain't perfect, but much of this super-sedan's best qualities do reside in the same ZIP code.
V10 power, courtesy of Italy
Like Mercedes-Benz's AMG and BMW's M, Audi's S division serves as Ingolstadt's in-house tuning firm. Over the past two decades, not the easiest time for Audi in America, the "S" has become a respected badge among enthusiasts, and deservedly so. The 2007 S8, built exclusively from the short-wheelbase (115.9 inches) A8 platform, is intended as the ultra-S in Audi's stable, gunning for both BMW's M5 and 760i models, as well as the brawniest S-Class that AMG can throw down.
Naturally, that gunning starts with an engine that builds torque like high schoolers build hormones. For the S8, Audi jumped the fence into Italy, paying a call to Lamborghini — also owned by the Volkswagen Group — to lift the Gallardo's 40-valve V10 power plant. Audi bored Lambo's 5.0-liter engine out to 5.2 liters and fit its own FSI gasoline direct-injection technology.
Translated into German, the V10 makes 450 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and 398 pound-feet of torque at 3,500. That 7,000-rpm mark is just a hair off redline and the engine feels strong and steady from just off idle to the top end of the tach. The V10's got no weak spots, but there's no place in the powerband where it catches a sudden gust of wind either.
The six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission and shorter final drive mate well to the engine, although 1st-gear throttle tip-in can be abrupt and disturbing if you don't baby it. The tranny's ratios are superbly matched, shifts are sweet and it matches revs well on kickdowns. The S8's power is best manipulated manually through the steering-wheel shift paddles — that's the way to get Audi's claimed 5 seconds to 60 mph. Even in Sport mode, however, the transmission has to be convinced to kick down for serious passing. That kind of second-guessing from your gearbox is not good for the relationship between you and your car.
A charmed chassis
The S8 rides slightly lower on a sportier variation of the A8's fully independent adaptive air suspension. It still offers four suspension profiles to choose from (via Audi's easy-to-learn Multi Media Interface) — Automatic, Comfort, Dynamic and Lift — but each level rides a bit firmer compared to those on a standard A8 setup. In any mode, the ride is dynamically impressive, especially for a car sporting 20-inch cast-aluminum wheels and 35-series Pirelli P Zero tires.
Audi assures you that hard drivin' is a close kin to carefree driving in the S8 with a new generation of quattro all-wheel drive. The system's default torque split is 40/60 front-to-rear, but as grip conditions change, that power split can be dealt as much as 85 percent to the rear wheels or 65 percent to the fronts. If any single wheel starts to spin, the brake to that wheel is applied until traction is regained.
The upside to all of this platform grooming is a modern marvel in big-sedan handling. Body roll? Zip. And it's easy to feel how Audi's quattro system became a cornerstone of the company's racing successes.
Through every corner — tight, lazy, high-speed, low-speed — the S8's speed-dependent steering is a highlight, and works with inspired unity with the suspension and the car's rigid aluminum frame structure. Responses to steering inputs are ideally easy to anticipate, with a good linear buildup of resistance. And the low-speed feel is excellent and light, never overboosted or brittle.
Right up to the edge, but no edge
So what is this, another perfect German super sedan? Nein, it's not. The S8's brakes give away the luxury leanings of this Audi. The mediocre pedal feel is average luxury car rather than sporty super sedan à la Munich. There's too much initial softness in the execution, like the calipers are taking tentative nibbles out of the 15.2-inch front discs (13.2-inch rears) rather than the immediate positive, healthy bites one expects.
Likewise, the S8's interior is a festival of plush. There is what seems like a cubic forever of room inside. The heated front sport seats are coated in Valcona leather and can electrically adjust to the comfort of virtually any body that nature throws at them. The three-spoke multifunction steering wheel is trimmed in leather, as are most of the interior touch points. Brushed aluminum, carbon-fiber and aluminum-look trim abounds, with plenty of "S" and "S8" insignias to go around. And it's quiet. Too quiet. Too well-insulated to hear that V10 working.
Outside, Audi's not shy about decorating the car with "S8" and "V10" badges either. Even the front brake calipers get the "S8" treatment. Other S8 distinctions include aluminum sideview mirrors, an integrated deck lid spoiler, oval exhaust tips and the most intimidating Gates-of-Hell grille treatment we've ever seen.
Luxury-sport vs. sport-luxury
In creating the 2007 S8, Audi seems to be celebrating VW's proper return of the luxury mantle to Ingolstadt. Maybe a bit too much. At any rate, the North American court of public opinion will have its say when the S8 arrives in U.S. dealerships this October. Pricing has yet to be announced, but Audi insists that a well-equipped S8 can be had without breaking the six-digit dollar figure, which should catch the attention of BMW and Mercedes buyers.
Taken as a whole, the new S8 is a hell of a good luxury sedan, but only a heck of a good sport sedan. But like the king says, nothing in life has any business being perfect.
Used 2007 Audi S8 Overview
The Used 2007 Audi S8 is offered in the following submodels: S8 Sedan. Available styles include quattro 4dr Sedan AWD (5.2L 10cyl 6A).
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Should I lease or buy a 2007 Audi S8?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.