The drive to the German capital of Berlin quickly established the credentials of the S8. Whether behind the wheel or a passenger just enjoying the scenery, performance and comfort always seemed to be present hand-in-hand. Kudos to the navigation system that further enhanced the trip by eliminating the need for maps or routing guesswork. Although North Americans can now get the somewhat scaled-back version of the navigation system, nothing compares to the in-dash color display.
Berlin was also the first chance for serious in-the-city driving. We had suspected that this car would be completely in its element on the highway, but bulky for narrow European city streets. Stop and go traffic was another test. However, as if unwilling to let us down, the car felt well suited for city driving. A long car, yes, the S8 is also nimble. With the acceleration to change lanes quickly when moving in and out of traffic, as well as above average visibility from within the cockpit we were both impressed.
A minor gripe concerning city driving would be the brakes. Designed to efficiently decelerate a car that can easily climb to 250 km/h (155 mph), these brakes are absolutely massive at 13.6" on the front and 11" in the rear. We were pleased with quick slowdowns on the Autobahn, but around town the brakes seemed a little soft. It could have simply been the difference between the setup of the S8 brakes and the S4 braking system to which we were accustomed.
Overall, city driving was a pleasure in the S8. Rough city roads were effectively repelled by the all-aluminum sport suspension and normally challenging tasks (particularly in a large car) such as parallel parking were a joy with the front and rear Parktronic Acoustic Parking System.
In Berlin we had lunch at the Automobil Forum, a showcase of cars manufactured by the Volkswagen Group. Much like an upscale dealer showroom, the Automobil Forum included current models from Skoda and Seat on the lower end to Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini on the high end. The Automobil Forum is located within a fairly posh shopping district (think New York City's 5th Avenue), exemplifying the rising stock of the VW Group.
Just down the street at the corner of Friedrichstraße and Behrenstraße we encountered further evidence of Audi's presence in Berlin. The Audi Forum was opened in May 1998 at a cost of DM $6.5 million to exhibit new products and special models, as well as supplying the public with information on the Audi marque. At over 1,200 square meters, the Audi Forum feels even larger due to its unique open area concept which stretches from the basement to the ground floor. It also includes one of the largest hydraulically operated exhibition stages in Europe that is used to display highlights of temporary Audi exhibitions.