[UPDATE]  An observant or well informed WCF reader in Germany has tipped us off that this is not an S8 but instead an armoured version or special protection series.  One of the first clues can be seen in the special run flat tires which you can always tell by the reinforced inner bead that runs along the rim's edge.  Also, looking closely at the inner windows frames, they seem to be a bit beefier than usual possibly indicating the use of thicker multi-layered bullet resistant glass.  Lastly, looking through the grille, there appears to be some kind of inner shroud or reinforcement in place of the radiator.

Apr 14, 2010 - Audi recently completed the international launch programme for its all-new flagship 2011 A8 sedan. This fresh set of spy pictures show the S8 performance derivative about to test its skills against the notorious Nurburgring. These are the first spy pictures of this model.

According to Audi design director Stefan Sielaff, the S8 will influence future performance Audis in terms of design. These S cars will feature much more differentiation from normal models across the range. Styling materials will include carbon fibre and aluminium.

As far as the engine is concerned, speculation points to a smaller V8 replacing the current normally aspirated 5.2-litre V10. That motor was rated at 331 kW (444 bhp / 450 PS) so the new one should offer more. The expected transmission is a 7-speed double-clutch S Tronic.

A previous report puts the S8 under consideration for North America. The S8 goes on sale some time in 2011 as a 2012 model.

Gallery: 2012 Audi A8 Security First Spy Photos at Nurburgring - It's not an S8

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