On the last day of April, Audi released the ultimate version of their flagship luxury sedan – the new S8.
It is fitted with all the latest goodies that the company is working on, while the “S” in front of its name assures a muscular engine.
A surprising competitor in terms of price comes from latest BMW M5 Competition.
While they may appeal to a very different audience, they are both stacked with the latest tech and styling, and tons of power.
The companies have taken radically different approaches with design and engineering here, but when it comes to features, these cars are surprisingly similar.
Both receive full-leather interiors with electrically-adjustable front seats. The BMW’s front seats are ventilated as standard, whereas all the Audi’s seats have three-stage heating in addition to front seat ventilation.
Multifunction steering wheels and fully-digital instrument clusters are also placed in both.
The BMW’s steering wheel features two red buttons to map personalisable drive modes, with the Audi’s featuring the brand’s new four-spoke design.
The digital clusters are customisable, too, but the M and S themes looks vastly different when compared to one another.
Looking past design, both sedans are treated to a high level of tech, headlined by 12-inch infotainment displays on the dash.
The one in the M5 works with the BMW Operating System 7, which offers navigation, gesture control, voice control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, and access to the BMW ConnectedDrive and concierge services.
ConnectedDrive services allows an embedded SIM to provide access to in-car apps such as weather, live traffic, and online searches.
On the side of the Audi, it gets the newest MMI Navigation Plus system, offering the same features as in the BMW, except for the gesture control.
Audi also has its own connected services, under the myAudi app, which allow you to send details such as maps and music streaming from your smartphone directly to your S8.
Both systems plays through Harmon/Kardon sound systems, and both offer emergency calling services if needed.
Standard on both is a heads-up-display, in addition to cruise control, four-zone climate control, ambient lighting, follow-me-home headlights, keyless entry and go, rain-sensing wipers, and an electronic parking brake.
The M5 does add a wireless charging pad in the front fascia, while the S8 offers a powered sunshade for the rear windows.
On the safety side of things, it’s a dead heat once more.
In the M5 you get ABS with brake assist and cornering brake control, door-integrated side impact protection, a 360-degree camera, front and rear parking sensors, lane departure warning, lane change warning, front and rear collision warning with brake intervention, rear cross-traffic warning, and speed limit info.
This is in addition to dynamic vehicle stability control and traction control, and headliner airbags.
All these features assure a 5-star Euro NCAP safety rating for the 5-series range.
The S8 mirrors almost every feature, but you would need to select an optional package if you want lane or speed assist options.
However, Audi said the S8 comes equipped with five radar sensors, six cameras, and 12 ultrasound sensors.
“[The car] continuously computes a differentiated model of the vehicle’s surroundings based on the data provided by the sensors,” said the company.
The S8 does not have an official crash test rating as yet, but it is safe to assume that it will keep you just as safe as the M5 – as every Audi tested by the Euro NCAP programme since September 2015 has received a 5-star safety rating.
At the heart of the BMW M5 Competition lies a 4.4-litre, V8, twin-turbocharged engine that produces 460kW and 750Nm of torque.
Handling all this power is an eight-speed M Steptronic transmission which sends drive to all four wheels via the M xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system.
The drivetrain has a rear-wheel-bias, which makes drifting easier; and adaptive suspension keeps body-roll to a minimum in this track weapon.
The combination pushes the M5 to 100km/h in 3.3 seconds and to a top speed of 305km/h – while achieving a combined fuel consumption figure of 10.6l/100km.
The Audi S8 is fitted with a 4.0-litre, biturbo, V8 engine with a mild-hybrid system – paired with an 8-speed tiptronic gearbox that drives all four wheels.
It features predictive active suspension, all-wheel steering, and regenerative braking which can save up to 0.8 litres of petrol for every 100 kilometres driven.
The S8 pushes out 420kW and 800Nm of torque, and achieves a combined fuel consumption of 10.8l/100km.
Acceleration to 100km/h is done in 3.8 seconds, and it will top out at an electronically-limited 250km/h.
The Audi S8 Quattro went on sale in South Africa on 30 April, at a starting price of R2,484,000.
Along with this you get a standard 5-year/100,000km Audi freeway plan.
The BMW M5 Competition goes for R2,328,224 in South Africa.
This price includes a 5-year/100,000km BMW Motorplan.