Audi A8 and S8 review: luxury pair touch down in the UAE

The new arrivals are here, representing benchmarks for luxury and prestige for the manufacturer's entire fleet

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Sedan cars, particularly those at the luxury end of the spectrum, often get overlooked in the Middle East, with all those 4x4s (both big and small) tending to take centre stage.

It’s not hard to see why, looking at much of the region’s terrain.

But the fact is that while a lot of SUVs are suited to the business of tearing up and down sand dunes, fording streams, or navigating areas with enough mud to fill the world’s beauty salons several times over, most will spend little or no time in an off-road environment.

There’s no reason, therefore, why vehicles suited almost exclusively for tarmac shouldn’t get a look in for drivers who aren’t desperate to go all Bear Grylls at the earliest opportunity.

Enter, then, the new Audi A8 and S8, two models that have just made landfall in the UAE after their initial unveiling in 2021. This is a pair, displayed as they were in Dubai, that like to inhabit roads in a sophisticated manner, and they want you to know it.

Anyone familiar with the way car companies tend to name their vehicles could probably work out the difference between the two vehicles without being told, but, just to make it clear, the A8 is the standard model and the S8 its slightly sportier sibling.

Together, they serve as Audi’s flagship luxury sedan offerings, nudging shoulders with the likes of the Mercedes-Benz S-class, the BMW 7-series, and the Genesis G90.

Serenity is key in cars like this. As you drive along in an A8 or S8, the outside world seems more distant than mere window-thickness away. The engine, while having some poke, is smooth, even when you put your foot down, and ride comfort is as good as almost anything on the market.

The cabins on both models are suitably elegant. Photo: Audi

Standard Audi stylings are easy to spot on the A8 and S8, but the new models have been given a facelift.

The A8, for example, has a wider grille, revamped front and rear bumpers, and updated wheels. The S8 has similar stylings, but comes with prominent tailpipes that give it an upgraded sense of urgency, both visually and probably literally.

There’s no shortage of oomph in either vehicle, no one will be surprised to discover.

Power in the A8 on test here comes from a four-litre V8, which produces 453 horsepower, and that is enough to get you to 100 kilometres per hour from a standing start in 4.4 seconds. The S8 ups the ante from a similar engine by generating 563hp and cutting the time to a ton to 3.8 seconds.

Audi is keen to stress that the A8 and S8 are benchmarks for luxury and prestige. Photo: Audi

The cabins on both models are suitably elegant and Audi, to its credit, provides uncluttered information cues around the speedometer. The manufacturer's 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit instrument cluster is standard, as are the upper and lower centre screens.

The interior is decked out in leather and Dynamica, the latter, apparently, is a microfibre material first introduced in the Audi portfolio in the e-tron GT. It’s worth noting that it’s roomy in the A8 and S8 as well, so lack of comfort for taller members of your party won’t be an issue.

Audi is keen to stress that the A8 and S8 are benchmarks for luxury and prestige across its entire fleet and, if you’re in the market for a luxury sedan, they’re definitely worth a look. If you do decide to invest, you’ll also have the kudos of feeling just a little bit ritzy.

Updated: May 08, 2022, 10:31 AM