loading Loading please wait....

Audi S8: buying guide and review (1997-2002)

Audi S8 Audi S8 Audi S8 Audi S8 Audi S8
There was a time when you could have a car that was either physically massive or offered massive performance, but rarely both. But for a while now you’ve had your choice of super-saloons and few are as super as the Audi S8.
 
This is the car that has it all; a massively powerful V8, four-wheel drive to get that power down, serious luxury and an aluminium body to keep things as light as possible. Not that the S8 is a featherweight, as it tips the scales at 1750kg. Engineered regardless of cost, the Audi S8 is one of the few cars that can make it look as though Mercedes skimped when developing the S-Class. It may not be the last word in driving pleasure, but if you want serious pace with astonishing comfort and refinement the S8 can come up with the goods.
 
So whether you’re recreating scenes from Ronin, carrying the family or you want a ridiculously unlikely track day car, the S8 will be happy to deliver. Servicing and fuel costs can be high though and if you drive like you stole it you can expect to spend plenty on brakes and tyres. But if you’re going to blow some cash on a car, we can’t think of many candidates more suitable than an Audi S8.
 
Which one to buy?
 
As you can see from the model history, there was extra equipment and power from 1999, while the run-out car (from 2002) is the most lavish of all S8s. But with so few of these cars sold and very few available to buy at any one time, the reality is that unless you’re prepared to bide your time you’ll probably have to settle for the first really good S8 that you can find. Low values and high running costs mean a lot of these cars aren’t as loved as they ought to be, so don’t assume neglected S8s don’t exist.
 
In terms of spec the later cars with the five-valve heads are the ones to go for as they have an improved torque curve, extra power and they’re more efficient too. Virtually all S8s came with a five-speed automatic gearbox; it was all that was offered on the pre-facelift cars, but from 1999 a six-speed manual was optional, which cut the claimed 0-62mph time to just 5.4 seconds. With so much torque on tap the auto works rather well, but if you prefer three pedals to play with, be prepared to wait for something to crop up.
 
Because these cars are so usable, they tended to be bought by business users who weren’t afraid to rack up big mileages. As a result you’re unlikely to find a low-mileage example, but that shouldn’t matter because as long as they’re looked after, these cars will just keep racking up the miles without complaint.
 
Performance and specs 
 
Audi S8 quattro
Engine 4172cc, eight-cylinder
Power 360bhp @ 7000rpm
Torque 317lb ft @ 3400rpm
Top speed 155mph
0-60mph 6.6sec
Fuel consumption 20mpg
Gearbox Five-speed auto/Six-speed manual
 
Dimensions and weight
 
Wheelbase 2884mm
Length 5034mm
Width 1880mm
Height 1418mm
Weight 1750kg
 
Common problems
 
• Because the bodyshell is made of aluminium you don’t need to worry about corrosion, but that shouldn’t be an issue on a car of this age anyway. What’s more of an issue is if the car has been crunched, because repairing an alloy-bodied car is a far more specialist proposition than an equivalent steel body.

• The V8 is strong but the camshafts are driven by belts rather than chains. These belts should be replaced every 90,000 miles according to Audi, but every 60,000 is a better idea. Either way, do it every five or six years, just to be safe.

• There’s a seal in the gearbox, where the propshaft goes in. Visible between the two catalytic converters, this seal often fails. Replacement is straightforward but fiddly.

• The rear diff can also suffer from leaky seals, so look for evidence of lubricant weeping and having splashed onto the surrounding diff mount. Again, replacement isn’t especially difficult but it is fiddly.

• With drive going to all four wheels there’s a CV joint at each corner. The rubber gaiters for these perish then tear, quickly leading to the CV joint being wrecked.

• All S8s came packed with equipment, including a raft of electrical items that can play up. The head rests are a weakness while the heated seats can be unreliable too. Bear in mind that someone must be sitting in the seat for the seat heater to come on though.

• The boot is huge so there’s masses of carrying capacity. As you’d expect, the cabin is equally cavernous, although the rear seats are designed to carry two rather than three.
 
Model history
 
1997: The S8 is introduced with a 340bhp 4.2-litre V8. It’s based on the A8 4.2 quattro but with 18-inch alloy wheels, sports suspension and unique instrumentation.
1999: A facelift brings five-valve heads and variable valve timing to boost power to 360bhp, restyled headlights, grille and bumpers, extra airbags and standard navigation.
2002: The run out Special Edition features polished 20-inch wheels, xenon headlights, electric rear blind, more leather-covered surfaces and a BOSE sound system with TV. Available in Avus Silver, Misano Red, Ebony Black or Aqua Blue. 
 
Owners clubs, forums and websites
 
• www.a8oc.net
• www.facebook.com/A8fanclub/
• www.audiownersclub.co.uk
• www.club-audi.co.uk
• www.audi-sport.net
• www.audi-forums.com
• www.vwaudiforum.co.uk
• www.audiworld.com
 
Summary and prices
 
It’s hard to believe, but rough and ready 180,000-mile examples start from just £1500 today, but the bills can certainly add up to more than this if you’re not careful. Healthier and later cars can be had from £2500-£4500, while the very best examples change hands for £6000. 
 
Words: Richard Dredge
Audi S8 Audi S8 Audi S8 Audi S8 Audi S8
Last updated: 22nd Dec 2015
collapse this

Audi S8 cars for sale

9 Search results
Audi S8
12995 49841 GBP
  • Audi S8

    £49,841 £49,841

    Variant name:S8 TFSI Quattro 4dr Tip Auto ,Variant: S8 TFSI Quattro 4dr Tip Auto CD Player,Electric Windows,Multiple Airbags,Onboard Computer

    • Year: 2015
    • Mileage: 19986 mi
    For sale
    Lookers Group -Wearside Audi (formerly Benfield)
    0845 149 9100 VIEW CONTACT NUMBER
  • Audi S8

    £41,990 £41,990

    Colour SatNav, Comms Pack, Bluetooth, Dual Climate Zones, Full Leather, iPod Connectivity, Memory Seats, Powered Folding Mirrors, Rain-Sensing Wipers, Satellite Navigation, Xenon Headlamps, Electric Seats, Heated Seats, Front Centre Armrest, Lumbar Adjustment, Height Adjustable Seat, Sports Seats, Auto Lighting, Colour Coded Body, Adjustable Steering Column, Cruise Control, Multi-function Steering Wheel, Parking Camera, Parking Sensors, Power Steering, Traction Control, Stability Control, Trip Computer, ABS, Air Bag, Child Locks, Curtain Airbags, Isofix, Multiple Airbags, Quick-Clear Screen, Twin Air Bags, Side Air Bags, Bose, MP3 Player, Radio, Multi-Disc CD Player, Push Button Start, Auto-dip Rearview, Electric Handbrake, Electric Mirrors, Electric Windows, Alarm, Anti-Theft System, Central Locking, Immobiliser, Keyless Entry, Locking Wheel Nuts, Remote Alarm, Remote Central Locking, Tracker Fitted, Rear Armrest, Metallic Paintwork, Front Fog Lamps, Rear Spoiler, 4x4 STUNNING CAR,COMES WITH FULL AUDI SERVICE HISTORY,TO MUCH TO LIST PLEASE CALL FOR FULL SPEC

    • Mileage: 15000 mi
    • Engine size: 3993
    For sale
  • Audi S8

    £12,995 £12,995

    4x4 EXCEPTIONAL VALUE. Rare Ceramic Brake Option fitted to this car - cost £6000 when new! Originally Phantom Black, but has been wrapped in a Matt Grey Vinyl. Completely de-chromed with Gloss Black vinyl, Original 20'' Alloy Wheels refurbished also a matching Gloss Black. Specification includes : Soft Closing Doors, Electric Boot Open/Closure, 4 Zone Climate Control, Full Electric Memory Seats, Push Button Start with Fingerprint Recognition, Carbon Fibre Dashboard Inlays, 2 x 6 Disc CD Multichangers, Alcantara Headlining with matching door cards, BOSE Surround Sound System, Power Folding Door Mirrors, Cruise Control, Multi Function Steering Wheel with Gear Change Paddles, Front & Rear Parking Sensors. 2 Keys. Full Service History with services recorded at 10k, 39k, 54k, 63k & 78k. Car is in excellent condition, runs and drives beautifully. Call us to discuss delivery anywhere in the UK on this car. Have a look at our testimonials on our website to read more about us and the services we can offer our clients. Video walk around of this car available on our website and YouTube. 'Like' our page on Facebook for stock updates. All our vehicles HPI Checked and supplied with a Multipoint Inspection & 12 Months MOT. UK Nationwide Delivery Available. Finance Available. Part Exchange Considered. Credit and Debit Cards Accepted. Tracker Fitting Available. Ceramic Paint Protection Available. View our website - WWW.GEORGEKINGSLEY.CO.UK - Prestige

    • Mileage: 80622 mi
    • Engine size: 5204
    For sale
  • Audi S8

    £15,995 £15,995

    Very Tidy Car, Climate Control, Colour SatNav, Full Leather, Powered Folding Mirrors, Alarm, Immobiliser, Remote Central Locking, Electric Seats, Front Centre Armrest, Head Restraints, Heated Seats, Height Adjustable Seat, Lumbar Adjustment, Retractable Headrests, Sports Seats, Rear Armrest, Rear Headrests, Cruise Control, Multi-function Steering Wheel, Parking Camera, Power Steering, Traction Control, Trip Computer, ABS, Multiple Airbags, Electric Handbrake, Electric Mirrors, Electric Windows, CD Player, Radio, Alloy wheels, 4x4, Full service history

    • Mileage: 95000 mi
    • Engine size: 5204
    For sale
  • Audi S8

    £16,995 £16,995

    Comprehensive 6 month warranty, Very Tidy Car, Climate Control, Colour SatNav, Full Leather, Powered Folding Mirrors, Alarm, Immobiliser, Remote Central Locking, Electric Seats, Front Centre Armrest, Head Restraints, Heated Seats, Height Adjustable Seat, Lumbar Adjustment, Retractable Headrests, Sports Seats, Rear Armrest, Rear Headrests, Cruise Control, Multi-function Steering Wheel, Parking Camera, Power Steering, Traction Control, Trip Computer, ABS, Multiple Airbags, Electric Handbrake, Electric Mirrors, Electric Windows, CD Player, Radio, Alloy wheels, 4x4, Full service history

    • Mileage: 93000 mi
    • Engine size: 5204
    For sale
  • Audi S8

    £42,990 £42,990

    Colour SatNav, Comms Pack, Bluetooth, Dual Climate Zones, Full Leather, iPod Connectivity, Memory Seats, Powered Folding Mirrors, Rain-Sensing Wipers, Satellite Navigation, Xenon Headlamps, Electric Seats, Heated Seats, Front Centre Armrest, Lumbar Adjustment, Height Adjustable Seat, Sports Seats, Auto Lighting, Colour Coded Body, Adjustable Steering Column, Cruise Control, Multi-function Steering Wheel, Parking Camera, Parking Sensors, Power Steering, Traction Control, Stability Control, Trip Computer, ABS, Air Bag, Child Locks, Curtain Airbags, Isofix, Multiple Airbags, Quick-Clear Screen, Twin Air Bags, Side Air Bags, Bose, MP3 Player, Radio, Multi-Disc CD Player, Push Button Start, Auto-dip Rearview, Electric Handbrake, Electric Mirrors, Electric Windows, Alarm, Anti-Theft System, Central Locking, Immobiliser, Keyless Entry, Locking Wheel Nuts, Remote Alarm, Remote Central Locking, Tracker Fitted, Rear Armrest, Metallic Paintwork, Front Fog Lamps, Rear Spoiler, 4x4 STUNNING CAR,COMES WITH FULL AUDI SERVICE HISTORY,TO MUCH TO LIST PLEASE CALL FOR FULL SPEC

    • Mileage: 15000 mi
    • Engine size: 3993
    For sale
  • Audi S8

    £13,995 £13,995

    4x4 EXCEPTIONAL VALUE. Rare Ceramic Brake Option fitted to this car - cost £6000 when new! Originally Phantom Black, but has been wrapped in a Matt Grey Vinyl. Completely de-chromed with Gloss Black vinyl, Original 20'' Alloy Wheels refurbished also a matching Gloss Black. Specification includes : Soft Closing Doors, Electric Boot Open/Closure, 4 Zone Climate Control, Full Electric Memory Seats, Push Button Start with Fingerprint Recognition, Carbon Fibre Dashboard Inlays, 2 x 6 Disc CD Multichangers, Alcantara Headlining with matching door cards, BOSE Surround Sound System, Power Folding Door Mirrors, Cruise Control, Multi Function Steering Wheel with Gear Change Paddles, Front & Rear Parking Sensors. 2 Keys. Full Service History with services recorded at 10k, 39k, 54k, 63k & 78k. Car is in excellent condition, runs and drives beautifully. Call us to discuss delivery anywhere in the UK on this car. Have a look at our testimonials on our website to read more about us and the services we can offer our clients. Video walk around of this car available on our website and YouTube. 'Like' our page on Facebook for stock updates. All our vehicles HPI Checked and supplied with a Multipoint Inspection & 12 Months MOT. UK Nationwide Delivery Available. Finance Available. Part Exchange Considered. Credit and Debit Cards Accepted. Tracker Fitting Available. Ceramic Paint Protection Available. View our website - WWW.GEORGEKINGSLEY.CO.UK - Prestige

    • Mileage: 80622 mi
    • Engine size: 5204
    For sale
  • Audi S8

    £13,995 £13,995

    4x4 The BKT Standards, all of our vehicles are prepared to a high standard and you won 't bedisappointed all vehicles are supplied with a full HPI report, 1 years MOT where applicable and fully serviced with any parts without a serviceable life replaced. Warranty supplied on all vehicles. We offer finance at competitive rates HP or PCP is available, nationwide delivery is also available please call for information and quotes. Part exchange is offered and most things are considered. Viewings best by appointment but vehicles are viewable at opening times so feel free to come and have a browse, contact Stuart or Neil on 01206 212710 or after hours Stuart on 07860 348928 Neil on 07581882838.

    • Mileage: 94000 mi
    • Engine size: 5204
    For sale
  • Audi S8

    £16,995 £16,995

    Comprehensive 6 month warranty, Full Leather, Colour SatNav, Climate Control, Bluetooth, Dual Climate Zones, iPod Connectivity, Memory Seats, Powered Folding Mirrors, Rain-Sensing Wipers, Xenon Headlamps, Air Conditioning, Alarm, Immobiliser, Keyless Entry, Locking Wheel Nuts, Privacy Glass, Remote Central Locking, Adjustable Steering Column, Cruise Control, Multi-function Steering Wheel, Parking Camera, Parking Sensors, Power Steering, Traction Control, ABS, Multiple Airbags, Quick-Clear Screen, Colour Coded Body, Auto Lighting, Electric Seats, Head Restraints, Heated Seats, Height Adjustable Seat, Lumbar Adjustment, Retractable Headrests, Sports Seats, Front Fog Lamps, Metallic Paintwork, Automatic Electric Windows, Electric Windows, Self-levelling Suspension , Electric Mirrors, Electric Handbrake, Push Button Start, Bose, Multi-Disc CD Player, Radio, Steering Wheel Audio Controls, Very Tidy Car, Alloy wheels, 4x4, Full service history

    • Mileage: 93000 mi
    • Engine size: 5204
    For sale
Related Specification
Related content