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Audi S8 - The New State Of Performance Cars

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On: Tue, Feb 14, 2012 at 1:55PM | By: Lou Ruggieri


Audi S8 - The New State Of Performance Cars

My, how things have changed. Under 'normal' circumstances of days in the not-so-distant past, if you were going to spend $110,000 on a sporty fun-to-drive hot rod car, the big news would be that said car has 520-horsepower and 479-lb.-ft. of torque and was capable of ripping of 4.0-second 0-60 mph runs despite its 4400 pound, four-door stature.  

But as it turns out, the new S8 doesn't necessarily headline with the big horsepower news, but co-headlines at best. The news that apparently Audi is just as excited about for its potential buyers has nothing to do with horsepower. The big news is that if you decide to spend 110k on a sports car, it seems you won't have to spend as much on gas as you used to. Yup, that's right, you extremely wealthy businessmen and women, it seems you can have your cake and eat it too (whatever exactly that really means).

So how does the big S8 manage to improve fuel economy by 23 percent? Well, first, by downsizing its power plant. The previous Lamborghini-derived 5.2-liter V10 has been cut down to a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8. Next up, Audi implemented an 8-speed automatic transmission to keep the RPMs lower on the highway and to always find the right gear for the task at hand. The new engine also gets direct-injection to make it considerably more efficient, and Audi has also devised a cylinder deactivation system in order to keep fuel consumption as low as possible. Only four cylinders are used during lower and moderate demands on the engine. Intake and exhaust valves are kept shut until the driver instructs the car that more power is needed (usually by stomping on the go-pedal), and while Audi claims the delay is almost imperceptible, keen drivers will undoubtedly get annoyed from time to time despite the green dash light reminding them they are saving the Earth one mile at a time.

Audi has also gone to great lengths to help keep vibration and noise in check -- two downsides to running only half an engine's cylinders at a time. Counter-oscillations are produced by dynamic engine mounts and an Active Noise Control system sends out counter-frequencies to cancel out any and almost all unwanted noise coming from the engine and drivetrain. On top of those unnoticeable gizmos, the German automaker also incorporated the usual barrage of safety gadgets like front and rear head airbags, emergency brake assist, high pressure headlamp washers, stability control, traction control, electronic brakeforce distritbution, pre and post-collision safety systems, emergency braking preparation, and driver head restraint whiplash protection. Not that the driver will notice too many of those techie-features, but what they will notice is how well the air suspension rides, or perhaps how well the 19 speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system plays, or even how nicely the four-zone climate control keeps everyone in a perfect cocoon of comfort. But then, they may not because the S8 also sports the fastest wireless-network hot spot anywhere (yes, even faster than your local Starbucks), so nothing outside of a blaring car horn or another fascinating Facebook status update might get their attention. Who's to say?

Thankfully, despite all of the creature comforts, this fourth installment of the S8 series still moves out when asked. 60 mph comes up in 4.0 seconds flat, while 100 mph takes 11.5 seconds, and the quarter mile rushes by in an impressive 12.8 seconds. Top speed however is limited to a relatively tame 155 mph. Fuel economy is expected to be 19 city/28 highway with a combined average of 23 mpg, which these days is almost as much of a bragging point as the car's acceleration. But then, whoever has the $110k to put up for one of these flagships can choose to brag about whatever they'd like, even if it is that their 520-horsepower Audi can beat your 414-horsepower BMW -- at the pump!


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Comments

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Stephy21 | 9:45AM (Wed, Feb 15, 2012)

Audi sure has done a good job on improving their mpg in their new S8 series.


reply

Sami18 | 9:48AM (Wed, Feb 15, 2012)

I like this new line up Audi has and how they have improved on making their engines more efficient.



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