It wasn't that long ago that 300 horsepower was exceptional, 400 was the domain of Corvettes, and 500 was reserved for supercars. Then we saw a 662-horsepower Mustang and 707-horsepower Hellcats, and soon the 600-horsepower club had double-digit members. Add two more cars to that club for the 2016 model year as Audi has upped the output of its twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 for use in the S8 Plus and RS 7 Performance.
I spent last week with Audi as we attended the Rolex 24 At Daytona. As if to point out how far the horsepower race has come, Audi gave journalists plenty of seat time in the S8 Plus and RS 7 Performance, street cars with more power than the V-10 R8 LMS that was competing in the 24-hour endurance race.
More than just an engine
The throbbing heart of both cars is an uprated version of the brand's twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8, now tuned to produce 605 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. To increase the output, Audi engineers changed out the exhaust valves, tweaked the inner geometry of the turbochargers, and dialed up the boost pressure.
2016 Audi RS 7 Performance and S8 Plus, Sebring 2016
2016 Audi S8 Plus
2016 Audi RS 7 Performance
The 605-horse version of the V-8 is the standard engine for the S8 this year, as the S8 Plus becomes the base model. That marks an increase of 85 horsepower and 73 pound-feet of torque over last year, all for the same $115,825 base price. The RS 7 continues with a version of the V-8 that produces 560 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque for $109,825, while the RS 7 Performance model comes in at $129,925.
But those aren't the only changes for both cars. The S8's interior also gets Arras red accent stitching, Arras red piping on the sport seats, carbon fiber trim with streaked with red thread, and black alcantara on the headliner and rear parcel shelf.
On the outside, the grille surround has a gloss black finish, the honeycomb structure of the side air inlets and radiator screen are matte black, the taillights are darkened, and there is a gloss black diffuser insert, which also has a carbon fiber surround.
An available Dynamic Package comes with carbon ceramic brake rotors, gray brake calipers, and a sport exhaust system. It also increases the top speed from 155 to 190 mph.
Other standard equipment includes Audi's eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, quattro all-wheel-drive with a sport differential, adaptive air suspension, sports-tuned steering, and 21-inch wheels with 275/35 size tires.
The RS7 Performance comes with all of these features, including the elements of the Dynamic Package. Instead of red, the interior accents are blue.