WITH a price tag just short of Â£100,00 there aren't many people who are going to be able to order one of Audi's new flagship S8 plus saloons.
But for the lucky few who have a bank balance that allows them to indulge their passion for one of the fastest five-seater cars on the road today they are in for a treat.
The S8 plus offers executive style comfort, luxury and space in a car whose performance takes your breath away.
The 4.0-litre twin turbocharged V8 engine produces a colossal 605ps (595bhp) which propels this land-bound flying machine from standstill to 62 miles per hour in just 3.8 seconds and on to a limited top speed of 155 miles per hour.
If that‘s not quick enough for you Audi offers an optional dynamic performance package for an extra Â£9,250 which boosts the top speed to 189 miles per hour, and fortunately includes the fitting of fade resistant carbon-fibre reinforced ceramic brakes.
The regular S8 is the sporting variant of the Audi A8 saloon and accounts for around 10 per cent of sales of the luxury car. The S8 plus is expected to represent just three per cent of that figure. In other words it's a very niche market, but an important one in terms of prestige for the German car maker.
Despite its high performance credentials the S8 plus offers sensible economy with average fuel consumption of a very respectable 28.2 miles per gallon, thanks in part to the lightweight all-aluminium body and in part to the cylinder-on-demand technology the car employs. The CO2 figure is 231g/km.
The system means that under light load only four of the engine's eight cylinders are working, so fuel consumption is kept low. But as soon as you need full power all eight come into operation.
The S8 plus is a development of the 520ps S8 but - apart from the additional performance - it also gains a host of on-board features including privacy glass, adaptive cruise control and power door closing.
Externally the car gets unique 21-inch alloys wheels and a carbon fibre front spoiler lip and side flaps. It might be luxury all the way on the inside with its leather upholstery, red contrasting stitching and carbon fibre inlays but externally it has a somewhat menacing appearance.
On the open road the S8 plus pins you to the back of the driver's seat as the seamless eight-speed gearbox goes about its business with the lower speeds closely spaced for dynamic performance.
Floor the accelerator and you soon run out of road as the power just keeps on coming while you sit in silence inside a cockpit where a clever active noise cancellation system transmits sounds through the speakers to cancel out any intrusive noises.
Quattro all-wheel-drive ensures that all that power is put straight to the road with no wheelspin while S Sports adaptive air suspension makes sure the handling is top notch
The air suspension can be set to any one of five modes and automatically lowers the car by 10cms when dynamic mode is set and then lowers it again by a further 10cms when the car's speed exceeds 74 miles per hour.
In fact this dynamic powerhouse incorporates everything to make it a true sporting icon.