Edric hopes that someday, if his budget ever stretches far enough, he can pick up a used Audi S8 Plus and own probably the greatest Q-car ever.
EVER known a girl whose looks you didn’t think much of at first, but after some time and with deeper acquaintance, you actually started to fancy? There have been a few such instances in my distant past, but as a happily married 40something, I thought those days were long gone. But recently, it’s happened again. Except this time, the subject of my belatedly awakened desire is a car, the Audi A8.
When the current-generation A8 appeared in 2009, I openly lamented what I saw as its uninspired, derivative styling. It looks too much like a bigger A4, I thought – a cutting-edge flagship saloon needed to make a bolder visual statement, to be a style leader rather than a follower. Over the years, I’ve driven most versions of the car – 4.2 V8, 3.0 supercharged V6, 3.0 V6 turbo-diesel, even the S8 with its twin-turbo V8.
While they have all impressed with their build quality, performance, luxury levels and the sheer, imperious civility of the transport they deliver, the A8’s looks always prevented respect from morphing into desire. But six-plus years on, the looks of the big Audi have unexpectedly grown on me, partly aided by a minor facelift (to the car, not me). Where its class rivals now flaunt huge chrome-laden grilles, bulging high-waisted flanks and dramatic featurelines for presence, the A8 eschews such visual devices.
Instead, its straight-edged, crisp lines and low-key style have aged not a bit. Alongside its visually shoutier competitors, it now stands as a model of classy restraint. Just as its dignified yet sleek looks have the eff ect of disguising rather than emphasising its bulk, its owners, I would imagine, are the type to be discreet rather than flashy about their wealth. The other thing that has renewed my interest in the A8 is the recent tweak Audi has made to its sportiest model, the S8, to create the S8 Plus.
“Tweak” may be an inadequate description of the quite drastic performance boost that Audi has given the car – upping the biturbo 4-litre V8’s output by a monumental 85bhp from an already mighty 512bhp to 597bhp, and dropping its century sprint time to a ridiculous 3.8 seconds. Just let that last number sink in for a second. And remind yourself this is a two-tonne limo. And then you realise, despite this car being almost half a second quicker to 100km/h than anything that BMW’s M Division can muster, Audi hasn’t even seen the need to slap on an RS badge. As with the saloon’s styling, this is understatement at its finest.
Audi currently has no plans to bring in the s8 plus, but edric hopes the company would change its mind.