Audi’s perfect luxury liner has technology and style to suit every CEO; rocketship S8 ready to take on Mercedes AMG’s biggies.
Base 3.0-liter supercharged V6 has 333 horsepower; mid-range 420-horsepower twin-turbo V8 gets boost cranked to 520 horsepower for the S8; 12-cylinder and new turbo-diesel V6 option reserved solely for the long-wheelbase models; eight-speed automatic transmissions.
Everyone from the fuel-conscious to the thrill-seeker can find at least one model that appeals in Audi’s grand limousine. The A8 comes in regular and in an extra-long L model, which adds rear-seat-passenger stretch-out room. Notable is the vehicle’s pneumatic suspension; a computer is always changing the system to best absorb bumps on the road. There are no conventional springs of any kind, and you can even raise the long-wheelbase A8 to get through deep snow. Driver-operated systems, everything from entertainment to the suspension, are controlled through a console-mounted turn-and-push selector knob and a seven-inch screen on the dash, which is designed to also read the driver’s handwriting (for note-taking purposes) on a special panel. Base models use Audi’s familiar 3.0-liter supercharged V6 with 333 horsepower. To bridge the gap between it and the long-wheelbase 500-horsepower 6.3-liter 12-cylinder, Audi uses a 420-horsepower twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8. Both the V6 and the V8 can be had with either wheelbase, although speed freaks will appreciate the 520-horsepower version of the V8 in the short-wheelbase S8. For 2014, Audi introduces a version of the 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V6 that’s seeing wide use in other models. The new A8L TDI has 240 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque, along with the promise of 24-mpg consumption in the city and up to 36 on the highway. Base gasoline A8s can only achieve 18/28 by comparison. All models use an eight-speed automatic transmission (with manual control) and Quattro all-wheel-drive. While the 12-cylinder can hustle to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, the lighter, more driver-focused S8 does it in just 3.9. The S8 is more of “sleeper” than the hotted-up AMG products from Mercedes-Benz; only special 21-inch wheels, some aluminum detailing and quad pipes distinguish it from regular A8s. The standard driver-select package allows you to change the suspension, steering, transmission and differential settings between cushy soft and racetrack hard. The list of driver assistance systems is practically as long as the car, but some highlights include adaptive cruise control that can even stop the car on its own if it detects another vehicle in front doing the same, a night-vision camera and a system that keeps the car in its correct lane on the highway.
Base price (incl. destination): $76,100 (3.0T); $83,500 (TDI); $84,900 (4.0T); $113,500 (S8); $136,900 (W12)
Type: Four-door sedan
Base engine (hp): 3.0-liter DOHC V6, supercharged (333)
Optional engines (hp): 3.0-liter DOHC V6, turbo-diesel (240); 4.0-liter DOHC V8, twin-turbocharged (420; 520, S8); 6.3-liter DOHC W12 (500)
Layout: Front-engine, all-wheel-drive
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
MPG (city/hwy): 17/28 (3.0T)
Safety: Front airbags; front knee airbags; side-impact airbags; side-curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction control; stability control
Weight (lb.): 4,410