2013 Audi S8 first drive review: Twin-turbo V-8 trumps V-10

2013 Audi S8

2013 Audi S8

Yes, we loved the V-10 in the last generation Audi S8. There’s something about the novelty of that many cylinders, especially when placed under the hood of an unsuspecting luxury sedan. On the other hand, the 2013 Audi S8 packs a V-8, but that 4.0-liter V-8 nestles a pair of turbochargers in the valley between its banks, and that’s good for 520 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque. And as much as we mourn the passing of the ten cylinder in this application, the naughty kid in us gives a hearty thumbs up to 16 percent more power.

How naughty can one be? How about 0 to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds, per Audi. Compare that to, according to the website insideline.com,   the 2013 Camaro ZL1 with a 580-horse 6.2-liter supercharged V8 ramming off a 0-60 time of 4.4 seconds or the 2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 with its 662 horsepower taking the same amount of time to reach 60 mph from a standstill.

2013 Audi S8 interior

Audi says the diamond pleated leather seats in the 2013 Audi S8 are “race inspired.” (Click to enlarge)

We know that different testing facilities on different days can produce different results, and in the overall scheme of things, a half second isn’t much of a sweep for the skinniest hand of the clock. But even allowing for various vagaries of testing, the 2013 Audi S8 runs with the sizeable canines.

And unlike those other pups, it has a back seat suitable for adult humans.

In fact, the interior overall is very nice, just what one should expect from a car with a $110,000 base price. Carbon atlas trim on the upper inlays and shift lever as well as sport-styled three-spoke sport steering wheel are standard, though carbon atlas, matte brushed aluminum, fine grain ash natural brown wood or layered oak wood are available. Front seats are upholstered in Valcona leather with an exclusive racing-inspired (we’re told) diamond cross-stitch pattern adjust 22 ways, with standard heat and ventilation and a delicious massage thrown in to boot.

Audi connect infotainment system is standard. Audi has the first with an automotive application of  Google Earth with the high-resolution 3D satellite views usually confined to the user’s PC or mobile device. The system offers an overlay of street mapping data. It’s not just a raw map, but what the surroundings look like as well. Audi MMI Navigation plus and SiriusXM Traffic subscription is standard with a four-year subscription.

2013 Audi S8 backup camera

The backup camera of the 2013 Audi S8 includes a seamless overhead view. (Click to enlarge)

The Google Voice Local Search also is a first as part of Audi connect. In our first drive, we weren’t able to evaluate the system’s ability “to enable more intuitive requests for points of interest as well as to provide access to up-to- date information.”  We’ll defer reporting until we have more time with the system.

Audi connect also offers the industry-first factory vehicle integration of Wi-Fi, making the 2013 Audi S8 (along with other similarly-equipped Audi models) the first mobile hot spot on the market.  Audi says that its Wi-Fi can handle up to eight devices and “permits passengers to connect to the Internet to read email, surf the Web, stream music, play games, etc.” We found it’s apparently only good as its connection, dropping out in some hilly rural locations.

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John is a veteran auto writer, first published in Custom Rodder magazine in 1980. Since then, he has been published in all the big car magazines, including Car and Driver, Road & Track, Motor Trend, Auto Week, Automobile, plus a variety of others, including but certainly not limited to Automobile Quarterly, Collectible Automobile, and Special Interest Automobiles. John’s work has also been featured in a number of consumer and general interest magazines such as Consumers Digest, Popular Science and others. John has written four books, including a history of the Mazda RX-7 (selling for more out-of-print than it did new), buyers’ guides for Mazda, Datsun/Nissan and Volvo cars, and is co-author of 365 Cars You Must Drive with Motor Trend editor Matt Stone, and his work has been translated into Italian, Estonian, Portuguese, Russian, and Bulgarian. John is recipient of the prestigious Ken Purdy Award for Excellence in Automotive Journalism, awarded by the International Motor Press Association, and the Golden Quill from the Washington Automotive Press Association. John has three adult daughters and has been married for more that four decades to Mary Ann, Distinguished Professor of Mathematics at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania.