It’s a shame that it's mainly chauffeurs who will get to appreciate the superb Audi A8. Along with its BMW and Mercedes counterparts, the flagship sedan is among the vehicles of choice for those who want to enjoy the road from the back seat.
However we got the pleasure of the driver's seat for the revised A8 range that now comes in four versions -- 3.0TDI and 3.0TDI L (long wheelbase), 4.2 TDI and S8 4.0 TFSI.
DESIGN / STYLING
It’s a big car offering plenty of room inside, (more in the 3.0L variant) and a large boot to go with it. The exterior is mildly massaged with a different bonnet, grille and bumper giving a sleeker look, while a tweak inside enhances the luxury feel and function of the car.
Built using Audi Space Frame aluminium technology for the chassis and body, the handsome A/S8 has derivative styling from other models in the range. Up close they are imposing but on the road they could be mistaken for an A4.
PRICE / FEATURES
Pricing starts at $195,000 for the 3.0 through to $279,000 for the S8. A number of options and option packs are also available at extra cost.
They’ve upgraded the A8 with the latest safety and entertainment/connectivity technology including an on-board, eight-device Wi-Fi hotspot for instant internet connection.
Other new features includes matrix reactive LED headlights (optional on 3.0) that selectively illuminate to avoid oncoming cars and even help see around corners.
Additional noise damping has been applied and the A8 now has electric power steering.
The standard equipment list is monumental and includes premium audio, a large multimedia information screen with Google-based satnav and digital TV, 360 degree camera, leather, head up display.
There is also a massive swag of driver assist features, including -- but by no means limited to -- active lane assist, park assist, adaptive cruise control and safety systems like pre-sense braking and pre-sense safety.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
Powertrains are a 3.0-litre turbo diesel with 197kW/580Nm output capable of clocking a 0-100kmh sprint in 5.9 seconds while combined fuel consumption is 5.9-litres/100km. Those numbers for the 4.2-litre V8 turbo diesel are 283kW, 850Nm, 4.7 seconds and 7.4 litres/100km.
The 4.0-litre twin turbo (twin scrolls apiece) petrol S8 is good for 382kW, 650Nm, 4.1 seconds and 9.6-litres/100km. It’s the same engine as the RS6 and RS7 but in a slightly detuned state.
They all have an eight speed Tiptronic auto transmission along with quattro all-wheeldrive, some with a sports rear differential for additional traction.
Noise cancelling is featured on the S8 to mask the cylinder on demand system that shuts down four pots when cruising to cut fuel use.
All models get engine stop/start to reduce city fuel consumption and all get Audi’s excellent Drive Select system offering a range of calibrations for the car’s `feel’ including: comfort, auto, dynamic and individual.
All engines are more powerful than the previous model and use less fuel creating fewer emissions to pass EU6 regulations.
Obviously, the S8 is going to be the choice of a more enthusiastic driver with its superior road holding and driver engagement along with stupendous engine performance and sound.
The 4.2 has a similar level of get go but is more stately while the 3.0 is all you really need and uses minimal fuel into the bargain.
But they are big heavy cars starting at 1880kg and that’s OK on the freeway but you notice on back roads. Adaptive air suspension on all models gives a high level of comfort while the quattro all-wheel drive aids grip in corners to boost safety.
Some options were fitted to the drive cars like night vision, B&O sound and rear power adjust seats. All appreciated but not really necessary.
We could spend our road time in one of these and wouldn’t mind sitting in the rear pew as long as the driver knew what he was doing. Styling could be more differentiated, however the A8 is easily the best looking large Euro limo and has the sportiest intent -- although there’s a Benz S63 AMG in the offing that intends to trump it.
2014 Audi A8
Price: from $195,000
Engines: 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel 190kW, 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol 228kW, 4.2-litres V8 turbo-diesel 283kW and W12 368kW
Transmission: 8-speed auto, FWD
0 to 100 km/h: 5.9 seconds