In 2011 I was given the Audi A8 for a five day road test. I drove the car for five days, and only one night.
Why one night?
The Audi A8 has LED interior ambient lighting that I found extraordinarily distracting, particularly when changing lanes and looking over my right shoulder. Had I actually examined the car’s dashboard I might have noticed that the lighting could be TURNED OFF. The car I drove was stickered at $78,000. I’m not certain that drivers of $78,000 cars are looking for ambient lighting.
Argh, I wasted three good nights of driving. At least I had good days.
The Audi A8 is redesigned for 2011 and for the most part I think they did a fabulous job. You can see from my video that there is a lot of interior space. This is a big car, and it feels big.
The A8 has an overall length of 202 inches, that’s only 10-11 inches longer than the Cadillac CTS V and three inches longer than the 2011 7 series BMW, yet it feels like a much larger car. It handles beautifully, you can accelerate like a jackrabbit and U Turn easily on city streets. The car feels big in a good way, like an I am so rich I have a giant car way.
One pitfall of an oversized luxury sedan is that the doors are heavy. If you’re moving from a midsize sedan to an oversized sedan you will find youself slamming car doors and hoping they stay shut or gingerly closing them and then slamming them when the first attempt fails. Audi clearly sees that size is an issue and they have added a trunk closure button on the interior of the trunk.
Give a little, get a little. If you want a big car, you get a big car.
Now let’s talk about driving the A8. The cabin is all but silent. German engineering leaves you with an incredibly smooth ride (should you want one) or a ride where you can really feel the road, the ride that every auto enthusiast loves. The Audi A8 goes from 0 to 60 in 5.7 seconds. I *might* have experienced that. Perhaps equally importantly the A8 features 328 lb-ft of torque at 3,500 RPM, and 372 hp at 6,800 RPM.
If you’re not a gearhead these numbers may not mean a whole lot to you, what they mean is that as the vehicle approaches the redline the engine has 372 hp, however at a much lower RPM (revolutions per minute) the engine has maximum torque of 328 lb-ft. This means that the car is fast off the line, and powerful when you’re cruising along at middle speeds should you want to accelerate quickly.
Try this, the next time you’ve got your car comfortably moving at about 45 MPH give it a little gas and try to bring it to 65, or even 85. In the time it took you to read this the Audi A8 could have made the jump smoothly and efficiently.
That is torque, and this engine has a whole lot of it. Some would argue that torque matters more than Horsepower.
The front seats have five styles of built in massage, Air Conditioning and Heat. The rear seats only have heat.
The Audi is a splendid oversized sedan with an oversized engine to top it off. The handling is supreme, the styling is sublime. It is near silent, as you are encapsulated in a luxury cabin with only muffled growls from an agressive engine marring the silence.
The question isn’t, “Do you like the Audi A8?” The question becomes, “How much do you like the Audi A8?”
I like it quite a bit, but I”m not a fan girl. Were I looking for a car in the $80,000 range this would be one of three that I would consider, but I felt like the A8 was missing a lot of features that luxury car buyers like me are looking for.
The A8L has a wifi hotspot built right into the car. I can’t see myself buying the A8 when I know that a few extra dollars will get me mobile with the A8L.
The A8 has a very basic navigation system, and in a city like Los Angeles it’s a little complicated to use. Rather than entering your destination number, street and then city, the A8 has you entering your destination city first, then street and number.
I don’t always (or even often) know the city I’m headed to. This may sound strange if you live outside of Los Angeles, but we are just a large group of suburbs slapped together to make a city. The lines are wiggly and I don’t know Van Nuys from North Hills, or West Hills from Cheviot Hills. City should be the last filter and only optionally the first.
Technologically I wasn’t shouting from the rooftops, but it’s not an unmitigated technological disaster area (like the 2011 Jaguar). Much of this is preference.
I don’t like i drive. I enjoy separate controls for separate parts of the car. I don’t get that with this car. Some folks love the i drive. I’m not one of them.
The Audi A8 is a fast and sexy sedan. I’d suggest you test drive one and pay very close attention to the details. The drive is guaranteed to delight you but the trim levels could leave you cold.