You see them slipping down the bus lane usually sporting black hire car number plates or they’re lined up at the airport waiting to whisk away the well-healed. Private owners are usually CEO’s and high-flyers, many of whom are being chauffeured around. You simply need to be within this exclusive group to own one. It’s the Audi A8, huge in stature and lavish by design. EFTM drove the Audi A8 3.0 TDI Quattro for a week well outside the normal environment the huge German usually finds itself in.
The 10 Minute Test Drive
This is basically a five-star hotel (and then some) on wheels, swathes of wood panelling, aluminium and the most luscious leather, cocoon you in a generously large cabin. One might argue the big Audi is a tad inconspicuous from the outside, with a design that echoes an inflated A4. But closer examination reveals an enormous grill up front joined by the very latest Matrix beam LED headlights. The long profile features strong, straight crease lines which really help nail the executive saloon look. What it may lack in road presence is overcome by the sheer impressiveness of the build quality.
But it’s all about the VIP cabin. The front seats are throne-like in construction with a mind-boggling number of adjustments on offer. You can even fold the headrests a tad closer from the sides, much like a business class airline seat.
A boat-throttle look gear lever is a little awkward to operate at first with finding reverse and drive requiring a delicate flick of the handle to engage correctly. The cold metal start / stop button on the centre console then brings the whole experience to life. The Audi MMI Plus screen rises dutifully from its wood encased hidey-hole and one of the most silent diesel engines you could ever possibly encounter purrs to life.
Straight away it’s evident this is no sports car when it comes to handling. Ultra-light steering makes life a whole lot easier but just getting out of the car park requires more acute spatial awareness, especially considering the sticker price!
On the open road you can be assured of an almost eerily silent experience. The Audi Adaptive Air Suspension soaks up bumps and imperfections with consummate ease. It’s like drifting through the air in first class with a pair of the best noise cancelling headphones on, just sublime. However start chucking the A8 through the twisty bits and the epic dimensions will put a curb on enthusiasm levels pretty quickly. Although combined with the added stability of the Quattro AWD system and trick air suspension the A8 remains mostly stable and secure but without ever nearing being nimble.
From a standstill the A8 is a surprisingly rapid car, after the usual second or so of turbo-lag you’re catapulted to 100km/h in a tad under 6 seconds. It’s willing enough to raise the enormous nose a little as you quickly waft away. Just don’t expect a raucous exhaust note; the engine gives little away in terms of personality. It’s just there, silently and efficiently delivering very strong results.
Ins And Outs
Our test car was equipped with the 3.0-litre TDI diesel engine coupled to an 8-speed tiptronic gearbox. Power is rated at 190kW which is available at 3750rpm, torque is the major player here with a mammoth 580Nm at 2000-2750rpm. When planted and spooled up this unit causes the substantial kerb weight of 1,955kg to lunge forward, it’s a very impressive feeling with rapid, precise gear shifts thrown into the bargain.
As you’d expect the Audi flagship is loaded with some great gear, in fact there are just so many little dollops of innovation and technology that to list them all would simply become tiresome even though they combine to make the A8 such a wonder.
Some highlights include the MMI Plus navigation system which features Google Mapping when there’s a signal, it’s extremely accurate and once you’ve witnessed it everything else looks antiquated. DAB radio works a treat, outside of tunnels and overpasses. A TV offers all free to air digital channels available, of course the vision is only available at idle.
A touch screen for writing numbers or letters into the satellite navigation or phone system also doubles as a 1 – 6 radio station favourites panel. Audi’s Head Up display is clear, crisp and delivers excellent navigation directions on the run. A huge digital display sits in the middle of the instrument cluster and provides reams of information at a glance.
Active cruise control and low-speed crash avoidance make for autonomous driving at times. Lane Keep Assist will see the A8 bounce back and forth between lane markings as it steers you out of harm’s way, although eventually the system will crack the you know what’s and tell you to wake up to yourself.
The Matrix beam LED headlamps are a remarkable thing to behold at night. They allow for high beam to remain on at all times, with sensors steering the light beam away from oncoming and even motorists you’re following instantly. The effect is amazing to witness in action with shards of light splitting all over the road appropriately illuminating darker areas and avoiding exactly where it need not shine.
Of course there are heated and cooled seats and independent air conditioning controls for the lucky few in the back, the A8 even in base form has thought of just about everything.
As you’d expect for such a high-end car the Audi A8 ain’t cheap. Our test car was fitted with just one option; the $2200.00 Matrix beam LED headlights which took the total price before on roads to $197,000. Remarkably although possibly not all that important to this particular type of owner, fuel economy is rated at 5.9L/100km, I managed 6.3. That is very, very frugal.
I spent my time cruising in the A8 through otherwise foreign lands for such a fine car, not that there’s anything wrong with North Western Sydney or the NSW Central Coast. But over the week I must say the Audi A8 barley turned a head, it copped the odd stare at service stations but that probably had more to do with the fact a young bloke in thongs was driving one. But this isn’t a car for massaging egos, it’s a sign of someone who appreciates luxury and performance but doesn’t want to flaunt it.
EFTM Rubber Stamp
Love it, wonderful car no doubt about it. I’ve seen every feature the Audi A8 has on offer, but I’ve never seen them all thrown into the one car. It’s like Bubble and Squeak, it’s got the lot and possibly some things you’re not even aware of. The Audi A8 Quattro TDI earns the EFTM Distinction Rubber Stamp of Approval.