2009 Audi S8
2009 Audi S8. Click image to enlarge

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Day-by-Day Review: 2009 Audi S8

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2009 Audi S8

Ottawa, Ontario – Early in the espionage movie “Ronin”, there’s a scene where Robert de Niro asks his getaway driver to source an appropriate car for the gang’s needs.

“Something fast,” says his driver, while considering the five people it would have to carry: “An Audi S8.”

From the Canadian perspective, the choice of an S8 was unexpected and intriguing. “Ronin” was set in Europe, and at the time of its making, the S8 wasn’t sold here.

We’ve got S8s now, and with starting price of $127,000, the 450-horsepower 5.2-litre V10 car is certainly fast and still very much an exclusive, high performance, prestige conveyance. But it’s no longer such an unknown quantity.

2009 Audi S8
2009 Audi S8
2009 Audi S8. Click image to enlarge

Maybe that’s because people have seen “Ronin,” (always listed in the Top Ten movie chase scenes) but more likely word’s got around, and enthusiasts know how to identify this rare version of Audi’s flagship A8 by its distinctive aluminum mirrors, beautifully sculpted 20-inch wheels and quad exhausts.

My Brilliant Black test car stickered at $137,075; the extra dollars accounted for by adding a $250 heated steering wheel, $250 for a ski sack, $650 for carbon fibre interior trim, a $7,800 Bang and Olufsen Advanced Sound system and $275 for an Audi music interface. Delivery would add the final $850.

The full-size, all-wheel drive S8 (like the A8) is built on an aluminum space frame, and weighs 2,080 kilograms (4,586 pounds). It rides on a sport version of Audi’s adaptive air suspension that, along with more a dynamic handling profile, lowers the car by 20 mm compared with the A8.

The suspension can be set in three modes (four, if you count the setting to raise the car during particularly snowy or muddy encounters). The Comfort mode soaks up the bumps, and produces a generally serene ride in all conditions. The Dynamic mode noticeably tightens everything up, producing a sharper response from the steering and firmer damping in the corners (it’s truly surprising how a big car like this can feel so nimble). The Auto suspension mode detects driver inputs and adapts accordingly. For everyday driving, Auto is fine.

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