January 8, 2001

NAIAS 2001 - Audi S8
Article Compiled by Jamie Von Druska
From the Audi Press Release

With its first-ever entry in North America, the 2001 Audi S8 offers the discerning customer a perfect synthesis of a luxurious atmosphere and superior power. The combination of unique technical features such as the all-aluminum Audi Space Frame (ASF), the quattro permanent all-wheel-drive system and the high-tech five-valve V8 engine, makes Audi's top-of-the-line S8 a leader in the field of automotive construction.

The S8 is designed to appeal to those 'forward thinking,' luxury German sedan customers seeking more than flagship luxury. This vehicle is designed to provide an uncompromised performance-oriented driving experience. At the heart of the S8 is the five-valve Audi V8 engine with its 4.2-liter displacement which is modified for increased output. Changes for increased performance begin with the optimized intake paths, a new two-stage variable intake manifold, and newly developed camshafts with modified valve timing. These changes are combined with low-friction roller cam followers for the valve gear found in the A8.

With such technical improvements and innovations, the S8 has an output power rating of 360 horsepower at 7,000 revolutions per minute and impressive maximum torque of 317 lbs. ft., available from just 3,400 rpm. The exhaust system also has been redesigned for increase flow and incorporates dual polished exhaust tips and a sound befitting its sporting character.

To transmit this power, the S8 uses an electronically controlled five-speed automatic with Tiptronic transmission with Dynamic Shift Program (DSP) and hill detection capability. Standard on the S8 is a three-spoke sport steering wheel with Tiptronic controls where the transmission gears may be shifted manually.

The four-piston Brembo fixed-caliper brakes with four ventilated discs and aluminum calipers also are new to match the superior performance of the engine. The 18-inch 'Avus' cast alloy wheels are fitted with 245/45 ZR 18 performance tires. A full size spare tire with alloy wheel is standard.

To continue the vehicle's overall sporty performance and appearance, a sport suspension made entirely of aluminum is standard equipment. This consists of a slightly lowered suspension setting (20 mm), 30 percent stiffer spring rates, 40 percent more compression damping in the shock absorbers combined with thicker stabilizer bars.

As with all Audi S models, the S8 is available only with permanent all-wheel-drive. This offers the assurance of optimum traction and directional stability. On the Audi S8, a self-locking Torsen center differential is used to distribute the power between the front and rear wheels as required. In extreme driving situations, the electronic differential lock (EDL) uses precise brake intervention to provide a targeted force distribution to the wheels with the greatest degree of traction at any given moment. All Audi S8s are fitted with the electronic stabilization program (ESP) as standard. ESP continually monitors the parameters critical for the maintenance of the car's stability and intervenes automatically if there is any risk that it might skid. The ESP control unit calculates the momentary state of the vehicle from the wheel speeds and data supplied by the anti-lock brake system (ABS), the traction control system (ASR), and by sensors that detect the steering angle, yaw moment and lateral acceleration. Using this information it can then initiate any countermeasures deemed necessary.

ESP counteracts oversteer by selectively braking the front wheel on the outside of the bend; while in the case of understeer, it briefly brakes the rear wheel on the inside of the bend. The combination of permanent all-wheel-drive and ESP makes the Audi S8 one of the safest and nimblest cars on the market.

The Audi S8 combines an extremely high level of active safety with an equally high level of passive safety. This is because of the aluminum body, which features the Audi Space Frame. Naturally, the S8 also has a highly advanced safety system incorporating a total of eight airbags: two front airbags and two side airbags integrated into the front seats, and two into the rear seat backs, complemented by Sideguard, Audi's head-level side airbag system.

Design elements throughout this top-of-the-line model are elegantly subtle. With its small S8 badging on the new front grille and back decklid, dual tailpipes, aluminum outside mirrors and polished door sill trim, the S8 is certainly recognizable, but it may take a second glance. Audi calls it understated elegance.

The polished door sill trims made of aluminum and bearing the S8 inscription are a feature that underlines the car's top quality and the attention to detail which is evident even as you enter the car. Exclusive character is the distinguishing feature of the Audi S8's interior. The individual interior elements - such as new front sport seats with extendable seat cushions, Valcona leather seat upholstery, Gray birds-eye maple wood inlays and Alcantara door inserts - match each other in every detail, combining to form a harmonious interior.

An individual ignition key setting that senses which driver setting to apply is standard equipment, as is an anti-theft alarm system which monitors interior movement, an electronic immobilizer and a fully-automatic climate control system which permits separate adjustment of the settings for the driver and front passenger, and also takes into account the direction and strength of the sun. The long list of standard comfort and convenience features - to name a few - include an air-quality sensor, heated front seats, leather-covered sport steering wheel, the driver information system (DIS), xenon headlights and Servotronic, and a vehicle speed-sensitive power steering which adapts the degree of power steering assistance to match the speed at any given time.

Audi's Premium Package makes the S8 interior even more inviting with power rear sunshade with manual rear side shades, heated rear seats, and an expandable ski sack.

The optional Guidance Package includes the Audi Navigation System, and front and rear Parktronic which senses when objects are near the vehicle. Customers also have the option of applying Alcantara to the seat inserts and headliner, and additional leather trim on the lower doors, dash panel and center console with the the Leather/Alcantara Package.

Other stand-alone options include solar sunroof which operates fresh air fans when the vehicle is parked in the sun, heated luxury front seats, and a hands-free cellular telephone.






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