Screen Cars: Audi S8

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The Audi S8 has proven the vehicle of choice for evading the French police.

Have you ever seen a cooler movie than "Ronin"? No, you have not, even if you think you have. Ronin had everything: Robert De Niro, Jean Reno, a twisting plot full of double crosses, snappy dialogue, complex characters, awesome shoot-outs and several of the greatest car chases ever seen on big screen. And yet through all of this, the Audi S8 still manages to shine through as an awesome machine, proving invaluable during the film's heist. There were quite a few cars used for the chase scenes in Ronin, but the S8 is the only one mentioned by name.

It was requested by the heist team's vehicular specialist, who needed something fast that could quickly scoop up the team members. The S8 is then able to outrun the police in Paris and keep up with the vehicles the team is pursuing, ramming a couple of them off the road. It handles the narrow streets of Paris and Nice easily, as well as dirt trails in the countryside. It is clearly the superior vehicle in every scene in which it is featured. So effectively does the movie make this point that one of our editors here at CarBuzz has an aunt who went out and bought an S8 the day after seeing Ronin, and she probably wasn't the only one who did so.

Audi's A8 model is one that evolved from a slightly smaller and short-lived flagship sedan known as the V8. This model didn't officially have an S version, but after a few years of production, a more powerful 4.2-liter engine was offered as an option over the standard 3.6-liter V8. This lasted only a few years, until the V8 was replaced by the A8, but the idea of a higher-performance version of the big sedan would carry over, with the S8 being introduced in 1996, three years after the A8. But the difference between this model and the standard A8 wasn't as great as it would be in subsequent generations.

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Audi has never made an RS version of the A8, and with S representing the top of the model's performance hierarchy, it was recognized as important to give it serious credentials.

Early S8 models, such as the one featured in Ronin, had a retuned version of the standard engine and transmission (making 360 horsepower), as well as a sport suspension and actually quite serious brakes. It was with the introduction of the second-generation S8 in 2005 that the model would get an engine and transmission that were completely different from those of the standard A8. This had become all the more important since Audi introduced the 6.0-liter W12 option for the A8. Though it was very heavy and made for even more serious understeer (and was therefore not sporty enough for the S8), the power difference between this engine and that of the S8 was far too great.

The second-gen S8 got a 5.2-liter V10, derived from the 5.0-liter engine found in the Lamborghini Gallardo. The second-gen RS6 would also get this engine, although in the case of the RS, it was also twin-turbocharged. The naturally-aspirated S8 wasn't quite as powerful, but the 444 horsepower it produced was certainly respectable. A new S8 recently debuted, and it's great to see how far this already impressive car has come. This new generation shares its 4.0-liter biturbo V8 with the Bentley Continental GT, and cranks out 520 horsepower. It is slightly less powerful than the Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG, its nearest competitor, but it is also about 600lbs lighter.


It will beat the Merc to 60 mph too, and all while costing about $28,000 less. In short, if Ronin were made today, the S8 would allow for even more exciting chase scenes. That is, if such a thing is even possible.

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