What type of A8 should i buy; 3.7, 4.2, or S8?


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Aug 23, 2003
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Lancashire GB
Hi all. Ive made the decision and an A8 is definitely gonna be my next car. I currently have a '97 Jag XJ6 3.2 Exec which ive had for 3 years. I did consider buying an XJR, never for a moment a 7 series tho! i think we all know why! But i know i need a change and i have come to admire the A8 for various reasons.
Its subtle firstly. ive become fed up with having to vary my cruise control because ppl speed up when i approach them, then we end up doing a similar speed, with me not making any progress, sat in the 2nd or 3rd lane alongside them. This happens nearly everytime i am out on the motorway! The jag front end is just so recognisable in ppls mirrors. Worst offenders are drivers of british cars, rovers mainly, but BMW drivers a great deal too. Even at night i have this problem.

Secondly, i love the cabins on Audis. Then theres the build quality, which from all ive read and heard is superb. my brother bought a 2000 A4 1.8 earlier this year and is totally head over heels in love with it.
I have been looking at and reading about A8s for a while now and know certain things i want, but not sure about others, so i need your help please, if u would be so kind.

i know i want a fully loded model, cos i love my gadgets, so i fancy sat nav, tv and electric blinds.
Are front heated memory seats standard? heated rear seats standard? is double glazing standard? Some ads say alcantara trim or wood trim, are they extras?

I know i want a V8 petrol. Im not worried about fuel consumption.
I dont want to hard a ride though. I have got used to the magic carpet ride on my Jag, but i know i want a sportier drive now, but not a hard ride. i havent driven an A8 yet, so what should i be looking for?
Oh i should say that im probably looking at best for late T, or V or W reg with about 20k to spend. but wouldnt mind saving a bit if you think pre-face lifts are ok.
What kind of difference is there between a 3.7 and a 4.2?
i realise the 1st has 260 bhp and the other 310, 0-62 8.6 and 7.0 secs, but how different do they feel on the road?
And then of course theres the S8, yes ive seen Ronin! 360 bhp and 0-62 in 6.6 is excellent, but how does that compare in the ride and handling departments? is there a big dif between a 4.2 sport and an S8 in ride and handling?
What differences are there between a Sport model and non sport?
How much difference do the tyre sizes make to the ride and handling? should i be after 18, 19 20 inch?
what about profile size; 50, 45, 40?
Ive seen S8s on 20" 35 profiles, does that make the ride really hard? from what ive seen 18" on 45 profile look pretty good aesthetically, how would they ride?
If i find the right car with the wrong wheels or tyres, i intend to change them.
Facelift from 99 onwards or not?
What were the main revisions that took place at the facelift? ive noticed the price differences in the ads between pre and post facelift; is post worth the extra money?
Are all A8s tiptronic or not? and if not, is it worth having?
I will probably think of other stuff to ask in the future and there will prob be other questions that arise from your responses i guess. But it would be nice if you can help me put together my perfect A8.
If u have any info or experiences that can help me in my choice i will be very grateful. Thanx for taking the time to read this.
Oh i forgot, Solar sunroof comments anyone? and do some have air suspension? is it any good?
Hi Chris,

Sorry for the late reply - have been up to the lake district in my beastie. You are right about the stealth aspect - I rarely get blocked on motorways so long as I keep a polite distance and wait for the car in front to move over.

I've driven all the A8's / S8, including the new A8 4.2, but currently own a 2002 S8.

All A8's have leather electric seats / windows / sunroof, although I prefer the recaro seats in the 4.2 quattro sport models and the S8.

As far as gizmos go, all post 1999 S8's have satnav plus - the 'plus' denotes the inclusion of a 5" monitor in the centre console, which makes the nav more effective. Pre-1999 models still have satnav, but without the monitor.
TV is an option but is present on almost all 02 S8's - it is less common on 2001 models and before.
Double glazing is standard on all V8's.

After a jag they will all feel hard and the S8 on 20" wheels (as per mine) will feel very firm although the body control is absolutely superb. Nothing other than an evo / scooby / s3/4 / rs4/6 / skyline feels so authoritive on roundabouts (I've been lucky enough to drive all except the evo so i've likened it to the scooby). Wet weather handling is amazing.

18" wheels on the S8 soften things up a bit but the precison in corners suffers a bit.

Although the 3.7 as you say, has 260BHP, and the 4.2 310, the torque curve on the 4.2 is far superior. The 360 BHP from the S8 engine is realised by virtue of the red line being at 7k instead of 6 (cams, inlet, exhaust and ECU mods) but the gearing is adjusted to suit. It feels much more like a Grand Tourer as a result - the power reserve is always instantly ready.

On the subject of gearing, post 2001 S8's have a sport mode - I like it but almost always drive the car in tiptronic mode and use the steering wheel buttons to change gear. All sport variants have these. Other sport additions are firmer suspension and standard recaro seats.

S8's are quite a bit firmer than 4.2 quattro sport models and sound more rorty - the S8's V8 sounds gorgeous when wound past 3k whereas the others are a bit too muted for my taste.

...and while we are talking music - Bose is very worthwhile. It is quite rare though to find a V8 A8 / S8 without it.

Your remaining questions...

Yes - all tiptronic - although buttons on sport / S8 - well worth having

20" wheels have 255/35 tyres and don't bend easily like RS4 wheels.
18" wheels have 235/45

Try to avoid alcantara seats - they are a nightmare to clean if anything gets spilled.

Post facelift cars - yes, well worthwhile - 5" monitor, standard zenon headlights on S8 (zenon plus a v worthwhile option - I have these - night into day...), and revised suspension settings - more absorbant.

Only the new shape A8 has air suspension.

I think thats about it!

Go-on - try the S8 out, you won't be disappointed /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/groovy.gif

If you are anywhere near Milton Keynes give Tim Barnes a call at Wayside Audi - he is easily the best A8/S8 salesman in the best Audi dealership I've known (I've tried 6)


Hi Tickover and welcome /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/laugh.gif

Mutley has it covered there (being our knowledgebase /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif )

I drove a 4.2 and then an S8 (which i bought)

A 4.2sport would be similar to an S8 I reckon but you get more toys as standard on the S8.

Evo magazine reckon the S8 does 0-60 in 5.5 !
I reckon they're not far off.

If you want blinds make sure you get a car with them fitted as they're £1000.00 to fit afterwards !!!!

You can't get a solar sunroof retro fitted so if you want one again it must've been factory fitted. I would've loved one this summer but it depends whats around.

I'm running on 19" wheels which are a good balance between performance and comfort.

Tiptronic is good, but it depends how you drive. I use it if I want to do a good overtake, but off the lights etc auto is fine (and a mighty fine auto box it is too!)

Dont think memory seats were standard, but fronts are heated.
Options were heated and electric rears (my 1 year old daughter would love them !)

Anyway - I would get the most powerful you can afford thats in good nick.

I think a 2.8 would be a little lacking but I've never driven one.

Xenon plus is superb and TV is good in traffic jams /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif
Alcantara is horrible but down to personal taste.
Phone prep for me was a must haev as well.

I'd like the side blinds but i chose my car for different reasons (it was spotless) so you've got to weigh it all up.

If there were 2 S8's next to each other and one had solar sunroof rear blinds and was a bit more money I would go for it.

Whatever you get you won't be sorry - I've gone from TVR to 3 scoobies and now an S8 and it's a different world. Superb comfort and the quietest most comfortable ride but with all the power you can want - and I can cover ground comfortably almost as quickly as a P1 !

The amazing thing is the power delivery. I had a little play off the lights with a 600c motorbike scrambler thing the other day. I blew him away and didn't even wake my daughter up /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif

WHatever you buy, you wont regret it - Enjoy /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/beerchug.gif

wow, loads of stuff there for me to digest, only home for the day, so will have a good read and get back to u both. thanx mutley and medders. will talk again next week when i get back. chris

That's a coincidence! I also pondered on a Jag XJR and took one for a testdrive. After that I drove the S8 I bought. It's a better ride, got much more options, more room, and it's more reliable I think.

I largely agree with the posts above, and the choice is a matter of money. If you can afford it I'd definately go for the S8. Its faster, handles better, looks better, has more options and the great Recaro's.

The S8 has almost everything standard, but here are a few options my S8 has:

NaviPlus DX (interactive)
Bose sound system
Solar Roof
Electric blinds (rear), manual side blinds
Power adjusted rear seats
4 heated seats with 4-way power lumbar adjust
Memory (on seats, headrests, steering wheel, safety belt, mirrors)
Easy entry
Power folding mirrors, heated & auto dim

I have kept the 18” Avus wheels (for now), for reasons of comfort and (stealth) appearance. With the right tires they are a good choice I think.

Two comments: the tires are 245/45 ZR 18 not 235 (at least here they are).

As far as the Alcantara goes, I wanted leather before, until I saw and felt the leather/Alcantara trim! It gives better 'grip' and more comfort. The cleaning should be a peace of cake if you use the right methods. That's what it's famous for! It's high quality, appearance and easyness to clean!

It's only a matter of taste if you want onlyleather or leather with Alcantara imho.

Succes and happy hunting!


Sven /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cool.gif

Alcantara Maintenance (pdf) /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif
Different Languages
Hi Sven, and all again,
thats interesting, that u say your S8 has a better ride than an XJR and i must confess, more than a little suprising to me. i have read review articles that have said that one of the S8s deficiences was its ride quality, tho they praised its handling and composure. One descibed the S8 ride as a bit thumpy (technical term). i mean jags do have that 'magic carpet ride' dont they? tho i know the Xjr is a different kettle of fish to a regular jag in terms of handling.
Is that cos u stayed with the 18" do u think Sven?
i agree with u about the relative space in the two of them tho.
I like the look and feel of Alcantara tho i wouldnt turn down a car that was just right if it didnt have it, i have looked at alot of ads recently and in my experience, it seems that alcantara is quite rare.
As for reliability, the recent jags are good in that dept, so if the A8 is as good or better, than thats fine.
I like my gadgets alot, so im impressed with your array of toys sven. i have learned somethings in reading your post, thank you. i didnt know you could have power adjust rear seats tho i knew u could have them heated. i knew about memory seats , but didnt know it could also apply to the other stuff u mention, in fact i havent seen that option mentioned on any advert i have seen so far. What year S8 do u have pls Sven?
oh and one more thing, what does Easy Entry mean pls, i have absolutely no idea!
And yet more..the Navi plus DX interactive, is that what is aka Sat nav plus or is it something more?
And yet more... how good is the solar sunroof at doing its job pls?
i have seen some ads saying the car has self levelling suspension (not the new model), is it an option? does any one know how that works on a mechanical suspension set up?
Would any of u guys consider buying one privately, or is the dealer network the way to go on this type of motor car?
Hi Tickover,

With 'ride' I meant the whole deal, so including handling etc. The Jag was indeed a softer ride, you're right. But with the 18" Avus (I've got Dunlop SP9000 245/45 18 Y mounted) the S8 isn't harsh at all (well, maybe by American standards, but not in comparison to other German cars in this class).
I love the XJR looks and almost bought it (a black one), but once I'd seen and drove the S8 the Jag faded from my mind. And not only because of all the goodies. It handles much better, and you can do amazing things with this car!

The NaviPlus DX starts from (march) 2000. DX has more options, and the older version does not have interactive navigation. This receives live traffic information and offers alternatives in case of traffic jams, road works, etc. Very practical!

Also the pre-2000 model is different, since there was a facelift in that year. Also it has 20hp extra and a 5valve (V40) instead of the 4valve engine. If possible moneywise I'd advice a '00 or later model.

What I forgot to mention is that S8 has Quattro and the fantastic Brembo brakes! An important difference I think with A8. (Quattro is optional on some A8 models though).

The self levelling was an option/choice on S8, instead (!) of the sports suspention. I prefer the latter, as do most S8 drivers I guess. I've never seen an S8 with this so called 'comfort suspension'. (that's more an A8 thing I guess).

The Alcantara is/was an (expensive*) option, Valcona leather is standard. *Some have Alcantara on ceiling and posts as well, which is a $3500,- option! Therefor leather might be more common.

If you buy private (or garage etc.):

1. have it checked by an independant professional and agree with the owner beforehand this report is binding. So he'd have to either fix anything below standard or forfeit the sale.

2. check if it has ALL maintenance stamps from an official Audi dealer. This guarantees life-long Audi mobility service! No matter the mileage or amount of owners. BUT: one service stamp missing and its over! This is very important if you want this great free service!

3. If possible agree on a service (or diagnose checkup) at the dealer prior to purchase/delivery.

Thus you have maximum security. Which you may expect in this pricerange.

An Audi dealer may be more expensive, but usually offers a guarantee.

Avoid fast talking 'glamour boys' with only showrooms and no service.

A good car from an honest owner should have a verifiable history! If not, leave it alone!

Good luck, if you have more questions, just ask!


Sven /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cool.gif
More regarding Navi (aka Travelpilot): there is standard Navi (through FIS on dash)...

And NaviPlus, which has a 5" LCD color screen on centre console, w possibility to combine with TV (option).

DX is a more recent (interactive) version, available on NaviPlus from 01/00 and on std Navi from 11/00.

(please ignore the text on pictures that's just confusing. It's only to show the difference between Navi and NaviPlus) /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif
Oh, I forgot to tell you about the easy entry: this means the seat slides back and the steering wheel tilts up when you remove the key from the ignition. (not sure if this is option or std).

BTW: both keys hold memory, so the car recognizes the driver and his/her favorite settings by his/her key!

And there is sooo much more... Try and ask a friendly dealer for a brochure! Esp. if you're looking at one of their cars they might indulge you...

Warning: this might be addictive! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif
thanx for all the info guys, i have learned a lot. My budget doesnt stretch to an S8 post facelift, so i had the choice of a pre-facelift S8 or a post, regular 4.2.
You all are really enthusiastic about the S8 and i appreciate why and would like to own one, but i have to be realistic. So i decided reluctantly to look for a post facelift 4.2, in the colours that i like, with as much kit in it as i could find. i have comforted myself with the thought that i will still have something to look forward to in the future and that going from my straight 6 3.2 litre 215 bhp jag to a V8 310 bhp Audi A8 is a good step up.
So ive been looking patiently around on that basis and i think i found the one. Its a v reg 4.2 quattro non sport. The colour is my favourite one, thanx to either medders or mutley (soz, cant remember which) for pasting that pic of the dark blue S8. Thats the colour of it, which im really pleased about.
Its below average mileage.
One owner
It has a full Audi srvice history from the supplying garage.
Its stuffed full of toys, which im also really chuffed with.
Sat Nav Plus with TV
GSM fitted
Elec rear blind and manual rear side blinds
Solar Sunroof
Xenons (but not plus)
Heated and eletric rears
Driver memory settings
Standard Black leather (not alcantara)
Accoustic parking front and rear.
I dont know if it has the Easy Entry, i shall have to find out.

So its pretty well equipped i think. The only thing im not happy with is the wheels and tyres.
Its on 17" 225/55 with some ok alloys, not ugly, but very unremarkable, so would need to change them.
i had a test drive in it and was very happy with the ride, which as i have mentioned, was one of the main things i was concerned about.
I ccant decide if i should get some other Audi alloys for it, or maybe get something extra-audi.
i know i want to go to at least 18" maybe 19, not sure, but not 20.
Oh by the way Sven, the facelift year was 1999 i have found.
I will let you know how it works out when the negotiations are complete ok guys. But in the mean timeif you have any suggestions on wheel choice, audi or non audi and tyre choice, both sizes and brands and different tyre models within brands, please post ok. Even if its to say dont get this or that for whatever reason ok.
Oh one other thing, what do you guys think of the standard audi security?
is it all one needs in practical terms and for insurance purposes?
Thanks for reading and thanx for all your helpful info so far. i really appreciate you taking the time to write and help me out.
Chris (Tickover)
sorry, it was mutley and mathew who pasted their S8 pics on the 'Anyone else got one ' thread.
as i said they are both great colours in my personal opinion, but i love that blue Mutley, thanx for showing that.
I think you've found an excellent machine Tickover! Congrats! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/beerchug.gif

Great set of options and a good color! You did well to choose the later model A8 instead of the pre-facelift S8 I think. Eventually you could even give it a chiptuning if you desire.

As for the wheels, I'd say plenty of time, so have a good look around and see what you like!

Maybe you can find someone who'd sell their S8 Avus 18" wheels, because some like to fit 19" or 20" on their car. As I said before I'll keep 'em for now, I like the comfort and handling with the Dunlop SP9000, and I'm afraid to loose the comfort and inrease the potential danger of kerbing the rims. (my girl also drives.. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif)

The standard protection should be okay (tow (angle)/interior/block), just get the dealer to give you a certificate of the alarm for the insurance if it's not with the car. HERE is a group-buy for NavTrack in case you're interested. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif

I'm sure you'll enjoy it! It's a great car!

PS: you're right with the '99 facelift for A8, but S8 came a bit later I'm told, so that's usually from 2000 and up.
Nice one Tickover. Nice machine. Like I said, you've got pretty much the same torque and you've got all the kit and more so I think you'll be well happy /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif

Good choice tickover - luvly car i'm sure! although i don't drive an a8, i can offer some advice on security. the standard security is actually very good - the alarm comprises a shock sensor, lift & angle sensor to prevent towing or jacking up of the car, interior ultrasonics, and a dual-zone immobiliser, all transponder driven. However the weak point are the windows. Not so much a problem if you have double glazing, but the standard windows are very easy to smash in - I know from experience!

You should consider getting yourself a security-film for your windows - contact Pentagon AutoTint in london. The film prevents the glass from breaking into the car - whilst the glass may shatter, the film holds everything in place so that entry can't be gained. It also helps protect your face from flying glass in the worst case scenario of an accident (let's hope not huh?!!). The police/fire departments all have special window punches that will go through the film in case of an emergency. The film also means that if you need to you can kick the glass out of the doors from the inside in one piece.

Oh, and the film is available in a clear finish or with varying degrees of tint. I got the light smoke finish on my a6 saloon - cost me £900 all in for all four side windows and the rear screen. It's not allowed to be put on the windscreen - although that doesn't matter because the screen is bonded anyway.

Right, what else can I add? You can ask Audi to change the remote unlocking code on your keyfobs to allow you to only unlock the driver's door with the first press of the key. To unlock all the doors and the fuel tank etc you have to press the button twice in succession. A good feature I think.

There's also an auto-lock feature of the doors above a certain speed - helps to prevent car-jacking. That again can be changed at Audi using the diagnostic tool.

Meanwhile, enjoy the car!! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/beerchug.gif
Sven S8 said:
I'm told it's a very difficult car to steal, apparently they usually break into someones house first to get the keys. (does that make it better or worse?) /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif

[/ QUOTE ]

i guess it depends if they steal anything else out of your house!!!!!!!!!

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