Speed bumps. They are so annoying and pointless too as more often than not, they just make people want to go faster after they have to stop for them. I bet fire, police, and ambulances are not fond of these ‘traffic calming’ devices (don’t they increase emergency response times?) but who in their right mind would actively go out looking for these lumps in the road to drive over? Me. But I have a very good reason — it is the new Audi S8 which is blessed with an innovative suspension that literally allows you to glide over these speed breakers as if they were not even there...

It really is the party piece of this large, elegant, luxury saloon which differs from the A8 via subtle details around the front bumper, side sills and side mirrors, plus the quad exhaust pipes. It has so much technology at play that a degree in engineering / computer science may come in handy but the wizbangery is all geared to make your drive even more pleasurable; the ‘predictive active suspension’ (standard on the S8) uses forward-facing cameras to detect imperfections in the road and prepares the air suspension system for action when a bump is coming and then magic happens: actuators on each corner move 40cm-long titanium rods to stress or relieve individual wheels so at low speeds, so the S8 can step over sleeping policemen by lifting the front and back wheels allowing the chassis — and you — to glide forward like you are floating in air. It is a seriously impressive trick that will leave you with a look of disbelief the first few times you experience this incredible sensation. It has another trick; it rises up by 50mm when you open the door to make getting in and out easier.

 

Photos: Stefan Lindeque

Just what will Audi think of next, time travel? It feels like they’re already there; it’s 4.0-litre biturbo V8 is so potent that when you floor the throttle it’s as if you’ve been catapulted into the future. Also used in the Lamborghini Urus, Porsche Panamera GTS and Bentley Continental GT V8 the engine has mild hybrid tech to reduce fuel consumption and is blessed with a whopping 571bhp and 800Nm of tyre melting torque. Flick the S8 into Dynamic mode and it transforms from an elegant cruiser into a rip-roaring dragster, pinning you back into the plush leather seats (they include heating, ventilation and massage functions) and taking you from 0-100kph in just 3.8 seconds. You’ll be accompanied by a glorious exhaust note all the way to its top speed of 250kph. It’s electronically limited, but the motor is so smooth and feels so unstressed at the best of times that it could probably add another 100kph to that number while you feel safe in the knowledge that the S8’s quattro four-wheel drive system, fed via an eight-speed auto, is keeping you glued to the road.

From the Audi virtual cockpit, ambient lighting, crisp Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system, an Audi tablet which slots neatly into the armrest, fancy carbon fibre-effect upper inlay and the rear blinds, this is no ordinary limo.

So, what will you have? This S8, the BMW 7 Series or the Mercedes-Benz S-Class? Drive the Audi and its mighty powerplant, luxurious interior and that genius suspension will make that decision for you...