Cars

I Had An Affair With An Audi S8

The first pangs hit me while my foot was glued to the floor of a 2015 Audi S8, barreling up a steep incline in the high Rockies, just outside of Aspen, Colorado. In that moment I was reminded of an iconic line of ad copy I'd read in Playboy Magazine some time around 1960:

At twice that speed, the loudest noise in the S8 that I had the fortune of finding myself seated in came from the incessant beat of my over-stimulated heart. To say that nothing prepared me for its 520 German horses I recently drove on a “Rocky Mountain High,” would be a gross understatement. This ride was a sleek black late-life coup d’amour. 

The team from Audi of America transported two dozen 2015 model cars to Colorado from Audi’s home-base at Ingolstadt in Bavaria, so that a dozen or so lucky test drivers (including yours truly) and a clutch of automotive experts could properly put them through their paces. 

The ‘15 Audi A8 range sits at or near the top of the German uber-auto food chain—the other competing beasts being the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and the BMW 7 Series, perhaps the three most prestigious, full-sized luxury marques in the world. It’s said by some that Audi has rapidly ascended this rarified slope since 2000 and may now have the edge over the competition, winning on fit, finish, interior luxury, and technological ingenuity. I would have to agree.

Starting in Aspen, we were taken on a 100-mile mystery tour through the mountains, passing some of the most breathtaking scenery I’ve settled my eyes upon. The first leg trailed the white water of the Colorado River’s Grizzly Gorge up to Beaver Creek. On the second, we sped through historic Leadville where “Doc” Holliday once shot a man. Later, we passed along the mesmerizing Twin Lakes. The third leg brought us high over the 12,000-foot continental divide, then back down Independence Pass to Aspen.

During the drive, we racers swapped three versions of the beauties powered by Audi’s Quattro drive-train. On the first leg, I got the chance to test a $86,000, 3.0-liter V-6 A8 TDI long wheel-base diesel—a car who’s mileage is so impressive she can go 868 miles on a single tank (36 mpg on the highway per the EPA).

And don’t for one second think she’s a slug. With a top speed of 150 mph and accelerating from zero-60 in an impressive 6.1 seconds, she puts many a supposedly high-performance, gas-guzzling model to shame.

In the middle, I was behind the wheel of titanium colored, 4.0 gas-powered A8 long wheelbase twin-turbo. Though bulky (with ample trunk space and legroom suitable for a Clydesdale), this is a fast car. I gunned mine from zero-60 in five seconds on a narrow back road without breaking a sweat. 
 
The best, though, was saved for last. Here was my baby: the 2015 S8, an 8-speed transmission packing a V8 and 4-liters under her voluptuous hood. The air intakes at the front were larger and it carried less chrome than other A8 models, creating an altogether sportier impression. The cabin? A total cocoon of geekiness and chicness. There was four-zone climate control, wood veneer, fiber glass trim, a networked navigation system based on Google Maps, night vision, and collision avoidance systems. The seats heat, cool, and massage you. 

The LED lights are state of the art. As I barreled down radar-free roads, touching 120 mph without even trying, my S8 proved herself the epitome of old fashioned, high-speed motoring bliss. This fiery S8 sinner—more sports car than sedan—won’t save the planet through its emissions, but my God if she won’t give you a thrill. An easy car to drive and an easy one to love. 

Everything comes with a price, though. Obliging as she was to give me a freebie for an afternoon, if I wanted to spend more time with her—and poor boy that I am, I deeply do—she’d run me $115,000 or more depending on what frills and features I’d ask her to display. Not to mention the outrageous amounts in gas I'd spend.

Many a lovesick lad has gone bankrupt for less.


Editor’s Note: It is with great pleasure that we are able to bring the voice of Peter Foges to our pages. Peter is a film and television producer, but that only begins to scratch the surface. He worked for the BBC in London for 15 years as a correspondent, anchor, producer, and director, before moving to the US to serve as BBC-TV’s Bureau Chief. He later became Director of News and Public Affairs Programming for WNET/Thirteen in New York City, where he has created, written, produced, or executive produced series and specials such as Good Night and Good Luck and Heretic, and co-wrote The Ten-Year Lunch: The Wit and Legend of the Algonquin Round Table, which was awarded the 1987 Oscar for Best Feature Length Documentary. Peter also sits on the editorial board of Lapham’s Quarterly.