A short while before the new year I was lucky enough to get my hands on a brand new 2011 Audi A8 4.2 courtesy of Circle Audi here in Long Beach. I’ll be honest. This was my first review of a German luxury sedan. Especially one with an MSRP of about $78,000 at base! The model I had probably hovered closer to about $92,000 with the options equipped.
Looking at the A8 is a bit of a conundrum. The car looks good but its styling is very subtle. It definitely sticks to Audi’s design DNA. Does it look classy and expensive? Yes. Does it look like a $92,000 car? Not quite… That can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on the type of person you are.
If you enjoy flaunting what you got and have a flair for the ostentatious then the A8’s looks probably wont push your mojo buttons. If you’re someone who wants something that looks nice but cares more about what you get from the inside of the car than the outside then the A8 was pretty much built for you. I’m glad Audi stuck with the latter style. You see, instead of spending a lot of time and money on designers to make the A8 look like an aerodynamic piece of jewelry that should be worn around a rapper’s neck; they put all of that effort into the performance, interior, and comfort.
When I first got into the A8 I was surprised at the contrast between the exterior and interior. As I said Audi A8 looks great on the outside but it looks certainly fall on the subtle side. As such I was expecting the interior to subtle as well. However, I was way off on that notion! While I haven’t reviewed any German sedans before this one I have had my share of drives in them and I can honestly say that the A8’s interior is one of the most luxurious set ups I’ve ever sat in. The interior design is classy, the seats are super comfortable, and there is plenty of room for all passengers. Most importantly the fit and finish is top notch. You can definitely tell that the interior was hand upholstered.
The interior controls provide options for just about everything you could want while driving. Although because of the level of gadgets it will take some time to get used to everything. Audi’s multimedia interface does help with learning curve but if you are going to pick up an A8 for your own I would suggest taking some time to get used to all the gizmos before you drive it. Once you have the hang of it then controlling everything from radio stations to navigation on the fly will be much more intuitive.
All the gadgets and seat massagers in the A8 are fun but the real magic comes when you start driving. First thing is first. The ride, as expected is buttery smooth. Which is comfortable, but also quite boring. Yet, it isn’t something that Audi has forced you to live with. Thanks to their dynamic suspension control you can change the ride to suit your mood and have the dampening and even the ride hight changed instantly. Now if you feel like re-enacting scenes from “The Transporter” you’re all set to do so if you feel inclined.
Motivating the A8 is a 4.2 liter V8 packing 372hp and 328 ft-lbs of torque which is just enough power to play with but not enough to get yourself into real trouble. Now, compared to some of the super sedans out there you may think that the numbers are a bit underwhelming. However, when you factor in the car’s weight (4409lbs) which is quite light thanks to its all aluminum frame the horsepower figure gains some significance.
Another benefit of the lightweight and having horsepower in the sweet spot is the fuel economy. The Audi brochure will tell you that the A8 gets 17mpg city and 27mph highway but in my experience if you drive smoothly you’ll surpass those economy numbers.
So, in a nutshell what do you get when you buy the Audi A8? You get a car that is a brute when you want it to be, smooth when you want it to be, relatively economical, comfortable, and will massage your back when you’re feeling stressed. Essentially, Audi attempted to make everyone happy with the A8 which is usually a bad idea but in this case they came pretty damn close…
Car for review provided by: