$U(1)$ is diffeomorphic to $S^1$ and $SU(2)$ is to $S^3$, but apparently it is not true that $SU(3)$ is diffeomorphic to $S^8$ (more bellow). Since $SU(3)$ appears in the standard model I would like to understand its topology.

By one of the tables here $SU(3)$ is a compact, connected and simply connected 8-dimensional manifold. This MO post says that its $\pi_5$ is $\mathbb{Z}$ thus it can not be homeomorphic to $S^8$(e.g.: see this wiki article). Even if it was a homotopy sphere Poincaré conjecture would not be helpful (at least in the smooth category: there exists exotic 8-spheres, right?).

I guess that this is what the author of this question was trying to know...

Anyway, is it known any manifold diffeomorphic to $SU(3)$?