2020 Audi S8 packs twin-turbocharged V8 muscle into a discreet form

The current-generation Audi A8 has an impressive array of tech features, but one thing missing at the big luxury sedan’s launch was a new S8 performance model. Now, the 2020 Audi S8 is finally being unveiled for Europe, and will likely make its way to the United States eventually as well.

The new S8 uses the same 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 as its predecessor, but this time the burly engine is paired with a mild-hybrid system. Similar to the systems used in other recent Audi models, it allows for a more aggressive engine start-stop system, and even lets the S8 coast with the engine off under certain conditions. With the engine on, the S8 boasts 563 horsepower and 560 pound-feet of torque. Audi didn’t quote a 0 to 60 mph time, but said the top speed would be electronically limited to 155 mph.

Making a big sedan like the S8 truly sporty isn’t easy, but Audi had lots of tech in its toolbox to help do the job. The S8 gets standard all-wheel drive with a rear differential that can actively shunt power side to side between the back wheels, which should improve cornering. The standard air suspension gets a predictive feature that scans the road ahead with cameras, and automatically adjusts settings in anticipation of bumps or potholes. All-wheel steering turns the rear wheels in the opposite direction of the front wheels at low speeds to improve maneuverability, and turns all four wheels in the same direction at higher speeds for added stability.

Like other Audi S models, the S8 doesn’t telegraph its performance capabilities. Visually, the S8 is distinguished from the standard A8 by subtle styling changes like extra chrome, a new front fascia with more vents, and quad exhaust tips. On the inside, the S8 gets model-specific front seats with active bolsters that automatically close to keep occupants in place during hard cornering, as well as “3D-effect” carbon trim. The S8 gets the same dual-screen MMI infotainment system as the A8. In Europe, the S8 also gets Audi’s laser light system and traffic-jam assist driver aid, but those features are not available in the U.S.

The 2020 Audi S8 goes on sale in Europe later this year, but Audi has not announced a U.S. launch date. The European S8 will only be available with the short-wheelbase body style, but the U.S. version will likely be sold only with the longer wheelbase, just like the A8 it’s based on.

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