Nowadays, stately luxury on the road doesn’t necessarily come at a sedate pace. Take the Rolls-Royce Wraith for example. The most powerful model ever to don the famous Spirit of Ecstasy, it’ll whisk you from 0-62mph in just 4.6 seconds and is just about the only place on earth where one could sip champagne at 155mph without spilling a drop on the dinner suit.
For those with deep enough pockets and for whom luxury must be just as premium as performance, the Wraith is by no means the only stallion in the stable. Another V12 titan, the Mercedes-Benz S 65 AMG, will vanquish 62mph in even more rapid fashion thanks to a twin-turbocharged 6.0 litre brute under the bonnet. Still not fast enough for you? Well Audi might just have the answer to your prayers in the form of the colossal new 189mph S8 plus.
Considering the package on offer here – nigh on 2 tonnes of premium saloon – the figures are fairly frightening. Whereas the ‘standard’ S8 ekes out 513bhp from Audi’s twin-turbo 4.0 litre V8 engine, the S8 plus ups the ante to a hefty 597bhp. However, this S8 possesses an even more potent ace up its sleeve. At the click of a button ‘overboost’ mode is activated, triggering a miraculous metamorphosis as this super saloon takes on near-supercar proportions. Maximum torque is ramped up from 516 lb/ft to a snarling 553 lb/ft meaning the palatial S8 plus sprints from 0-62mph in a quite remarkable 3.8 seconds. As if that still weren’t enough to induce furrowed brows at AMG and M-Sport, a further performance package effectively delimits the S8 plus’s top speed. The result? A bona fide premium saloon capable of hitting 189mph at full throttle.
The full force of this prodigious power is kept in check by fade-resistant carbon-fibre reinforced ceramic brakes and harnessed through the standard S8 8-speed gearbox. Equipped with Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system, the S8 plus boasts the highest power-to-weight ratio of any four-wheel drive premium saloon on the market. Suspension and steering are both specifically tuned for the S8 plus and standard UK spec includes the sports exhaust, power door closure, 21-inch alloy wheels and carbon fibre front spoiler trim.
Never has the term super saloon seemed more appropriate. For a number of years now Mercedes, BMW and even Rolls-Royce have perfected the art of fusing premium luxury with formidable performance. With the S8 plus, Audi has taken that concept and stretched the boundaries of possibility even further. A tantalising carrot indeed for those at M-Sport and AMG.