Cars and Concepts
JAY RAMEY

Audi's 605-hp S8 Plus dials the power up to 11

The S8 Plus has a few distinguishing elements on the outside, including a redesigned rear diffuser and carbon fiber-accented fender inlets. Photo credit: Audi
Jay Ramey is an associate editor with Autoweek, a sister publication of Automotive News.

Is the performance of the Audi S8 not enough for you? The German automaker is introducing an even more powerful version unimaginatively dubbed S8 Plus.

The stock Audi S8 already produces 520 hp and 481 pounds-feet of torque courtesy of its 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-8, with power sent to all four wheels via Quattro all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission; it's not exactly lacking.

The S8 Plus, on the other hand, dials the output up to 605 hp and 516 pounds-feet of torque which Audi says is enough to send this mobile office to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds.

Setting aside for the moment the question of why Audi has created a more powerful S8, let's first talk about how they did this. The extra 85 horsepower and 72 pounds-feet of torque comes from modified turbocharger geometry, different exhaust valves and tweaked engine management. Audi says that in overboost mode, the S8 can turn the torque up to 553 pounds-feet in a short burst, when the driver needs to overtake bad guys driving a Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG.

A few discreet details will tip off Q-ship fans that this is not merely some run-of-the-mill S8: a matte black grille insert, 21-inch wheels, a revised diffuser with carbon fiber elements, carbon fiber inlets on the fenders and quad exhaust tips with gloss-black accents.

Did Audi create this car in anticipation of the sequel to the 1998 John Frankenheimer verite classic "Ronin"?

We think the Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG has more to do with the S8 Plus' existence than a classic film (that desperately needs a worthy sequel). The S63 AMG pumps out 577 hp and 664 pounds-feet of torque from its 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-8.

Why are we seeing this model now? Those paying attention to Audi product cycles will no doubt recall that the current S8 has been in production since 2010, which is so many iPhones ago that we've lost track.

The A8/S8 duo is due for a redesign soon, so this is likely a placeholder model that squeezes out a little more power to keep the uber-sedan competitive for a couple more years.

Audi is mum for now on whether North America will receive this version of the S8.

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