It seems as though we are now living in a world that has become increasingly obsessed with showing off. Every rep at the gym, every bite of food, every shot at the bar, all has to be videoed, recorded, posted, shared, bragged about, and saved to be reminded of by some algorithmic bot four years from now. So, ironically enough, when we come across something or someone that doesn’t brag or boast or demand attention, it can be even more intriguing, especially when it seems obvious they have a lot they could be boasting about. Which leads us to the very understated 2023 Audi S8.
Outside of the flashier color scheme available to the S-line, you will be hard pressed to notice much about the S8 until it flies by you at triple digit speeds. Three new colors have been added to that lineup for the new model including your choice of District Green, Firmament Blue, and our favorite Ultra Blue. The front end benefits slightly from a little updating, but the huge geometric grille looms large bookended by mildly redesigned headlights. Out back, the only tell tale sign is are the quad exhaust tips that suggest a bit more power needs to exit this vehicle quickly. Aside from that, with the rear diffuser hidden away under the new bumper, and the unibrow-style taillights taking the lion’s share of the attention, the S8 could almost pass for an older Hyundai Sonata from the back. Probably not the level of understatement Audi was going for, but it happened nonetheless.
The biggest item the 2023 Audi S8 could brag and boast about with ease is the monster it’s hiding under the hood. Thanks to parent company Volkswagen, the S8 gets the hand-me-down treatment from the big boys of the family. The Porsche-developed EA825 4.0-liter direct-injected DOHC twin-turbo V8 that makes a ridiculous 563-horsepower and equally impressive 590 pound-feet of torque. This engine also can be found in heavy-hitters like the Bentley Continental GT, Porsche Panamera and the mighty Lamborghini Urus. In the S8, that power is then channeled through a quick-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission and then sent off to all four corners where Audi’s famous all-wheel drive systems take over and include now something called Dynamic All-Wheel Steering as well as offer up a feature called Predictive Active Suspension which both work in unison to help the big 5,300 pound S8 feel like it is half its size hustling around a fast corner. Waiting for all that power are either standard 20-inch or optional 21-inch S8 specific rims shod in Pirelli PZero 265/40R rubber.
Despite its demure persona, the 2023 Audi S8 is a beast off the line. 0-60 mph comes and goes in just 3.8 seconds, while 0-100 mph takes just 8.5 seconds and the quarter mile flashes by in 11.8 seconds at 118.1 mph. Sure it manages “only” to pull a 0.95g around the skidpad, but again for a car weighing two and a half tons, it still aces the test grading on a curve (or a straight line). Now, the fuel economy of the big S8 does leave something to be desired — weighing in at a paltry and thirsty 14/23/17 city/highway/combined mpg, but then, no one and nothing is ever perfect.
Yet another braggart-worthy stat the S8 has is that it also checks in with a base price of just $118,995, which is actually a $12,000 reduction from the outgoing model. But as we’ve seen, Audi continues to make the S8 a bit understated. It isn’t brash and loud and attention starved. It isn’t going to be filmed at every street corner, and for some people, that is exactly what they want. The power and prestige is there if they want it, and they have the capacity to blow the doors off some tricked out Focus ST or neon WRX. But going around and yelling about it doesn’t change anything, so why bother? The 2023 Audi S8 gets all the attention it needs, by not asking for any — a lesson we could all take away in this crazy world.