Full-size sedan buyers have a new performance option to choose from in the form of the 2020 Audi S8.
Based on the latest generation of Audi's A8 flagship sedan that arrived for 2019, the new S8 sticks with its predecessor's 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 but pairs this with a mild-hybrid system. Audi is holding back on full details but the automaker has confirmed a peak 563 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque, along with a governed top speed of 155 mph.
The mild-hybrid system is the same 48-volt system fitted to the regular A8. It replaces the traditional starter motor and generator (commonly referred to as an alternator) by a single, belt-driven motor-generator that recovers energy under braking and coasting and aids the engine at low speeds and restarts it during stop-start driving.
2020 Audi S8
Eventually the A8 will be available with a plug-in hybrid powertrain. We've also heard that Audi is readying a high-performance plug-in hybrid powertrain for the replacement for the previous-generation S8 Plus. This model is expected to adopt the plug-in hybrid powertrain of the Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid and should pack more than the 605 hp of the previous S8 Plus.
Getting back to the S8, the car benefits from air suspension, rear-wheel steering, all-wheel drive, and Audi's Sport differential. The latter sits at the rear and splits torque between the rear wheels to improve handling during hard cornering. One new feature aimed at improving the ride is a predictive active suspension system that monitors the road ahead using cameras and then individually controls actuators at each wheel hub to adjust damping to suit.
In the Dynamic setting of the driving modes selector, the system will limit body roll to approximately 2.5 degrees for a firm ride. But switch over to the Comfort setting, and the limit is lifted to 5 degrees for a smoother ride.
2020 Audi S8
To ensure it stands out, Audi designers have given the S8 an extra splashing of chrome, including in the lower front fascia which features additional vents over the standard A8 front fascia. There are also quad-exhaust tips at the rear and wheels up to 21 inches in diameter. Audi also makes available carbon-ceramic brake rotors that measure up to 16.5 inches across.
Inside the car, the designers added grippy sport seats with active bolstering up front, speaker-based noise cancelation, and a model-specfic center console inlay made with a 3D-effect carbon pattern.
While the S8 starts sales in Europe later this year, availability in the United States is yet to be announced. However, we should see the car arrive at dealerships early next year as a 2020 model. Versions bound for the U.S. will come with the A8''s long-wheelbase body style as standard.