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Audi A8 4.2 FSI Quattro 2010 review

The Audi A8 is barely enough according to Neil Dowling...
EXPERT RATING
8

While I don’t go to bars anymore, to me they're not much different to a new car showroom. You know before you even reach the glass front door that you could exchange a lot of money for fleeting thrills. If it's a luxury car, that thrill could cost you upwards to $300,000 and the next morning's hangover would be $50,000-plus in depreciation. So you want to get it right.

Consider the Audi A8, Jaguar XJ and BMW 750i.Compared with the Jaguar XJ, the A8 is unobtrusive. Compared to the BMW 750i, the A8 is feminine. Sashay into a dim bar after dark and you'd immediately lust after the XJ. There's no doubt that with the XJ absent, you'd flirt with the A8 at the bar. If it was the 750i, you'd be attracted but always wonder what's under the skirt. But looks aren't everything.

VALUE

It’s unlikely Audi A8 buyers just won Lotto. This, like the BMW and the Jaguar, is an Amex trinket designed for the “love ’em-leave ’em” coolness of the corporate world. Value is, of course, subjective to how much you have in your wallet. Or the colour of your Amex.

The A8 is top of the wozzer for high-tech equipment and is the only Audi sedan to get the 4.2-litre V8 engine and eight-speed auto box with all-wheel drive - undeniably an enticing package.

Value? Hey, it's your money but there are some strong rivals (two above plus Mercedes and Lexus) so look around.

TECHNOLOGY

Let me impress you - the A8 is a wonder of aluminium castings and tubes over which is stretched 11 taut body panels, also made of aluminium. The engine is also aluminium and the bits that are left are leather, wool carpet, slices of trees and rubber. There's steel in there somewhere but it's not on show.

The V8 comes standard - the 3-litre V6 turbo-diesel is an option - with its impressive eight-speed auto and chassis dynamics that let you dial in the air suspension's firmness and engine/steering response.It has a brilliant sat-nav system and TV, plus lots of buttons and strips of wood and perforated and quilted leather seats.

DESIGN

It is contemporary but conservatively styled, appearing that the designer wanted to appease all possible buyers. During the drawing process, he somehow found himself stroll too far into an accountant's loungeroom. The sum of the exotically-made parts is a shape that is taut, trim and utterly efficient,­ but not seductive and doesn't portray the sticker price or the technology beneath its skin.

Inside, it doesn't feel big and even the rear seat room isn't limousine class, though there's a long wheelbase version. But, and it's a big but, the workmanship is superb.

SAFETY

Lots of airbags, heaps of electronic aids and the size of the A8 go a long way in attempting to preserve its occupants.There's nothing wanting here and, at nearly a quarter of a million bucks, there wouldn't want to be.

DRIVING

Oddly, it doesn't feel as big as the dimensions suggest. It sits snugly on the road and it's only until you hit undulations that there's a suggestion that the A8 is made for comfort. The electronically-controlled air suspension can, however, be switched through various degrees to achieve a firm-ish ride and to settle down any blancmange sensations through the corners. This chassis softness is probably precisely what the A8's audience wants, yet it is at odds with the noticeable growl of the V8 engine when the driver massages the accelerator.

If you expect this car to leap away from the lights, it does. It's quick but that's not the whole story. The V8 is audible but the transmission's upchanges are almost invisible. All you feel is a slight tug as the next cog is fed through. Audi will let you play with the box, providing steering-wheel paddles to click up and down the ratios, but you may tire of this effort in a car made for serenity, not competition.

VERDICT

Lovely job in terms of quality and technology but buyers may be lured more to the more stylish offerings, such as the Jaguar XJ.

AUDI A8

Price: $225,904
Engine: 4.2-litre V8; 273kW/ 445Nm
Transmission: 8-speed sequential auto; AWD
Thirst: 9.5 litres/100km

Pricing guides

$39,450
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$20,600
Highest Price
$58,300

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
3.0 TDI Quattro 3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $35,200 – 45,540 2010 Audi A8 2010 3.0 TDI Quattro Pricing and Specs
3.2 Quattro 3.1L, PULP, 6 SP $20,600 – 27,940 2010 Audi A8 2010 3.2 Quattro Pricing and Specs
4.2 FSI Quattro 4.2L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $38,900 – 49,720 2010 Audi A8 2010 4.2 FSI Quattro Pricing and Specs
4.2 Quattro 4.2L, PULP, 6 SP $27,500 – 36,410 2010 Audi A8 2010 4.2 Quattro Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8
Neil Dowling
Contributing Journalist

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Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.