2014 Audi A8 L 4.0T Quattro TiptronicPosted on April 11th, 2014
Long-wheelbase flagship sedan
By Nina Russin
The long-wheelbase version of Audi’s high luxury sedan combines the performance of a jetfighter with infotainment and convenience features that define the segment. The four-liter engine in the test car is one of four available gasoline blocks, accelerating from zero-to-sixty in 4.8 seconds.
Yet thanks to fuel economizing measures including cylinder deactivation, a shut-off feature at idle and an eight-speed automatic transmission, average fuel economy is 19 miles-per-gallon: not bad for a car weighing 4600 pounds. The engine requires premium fuel: something potential buyers should factor into cost of ownership.
Base price for the test car is $87,600 excluding the $895 delivery charge. Options include an interior design package, Bang & Olufsen premium sound system, ventilated and massaging front and rear seats, blind spot monitoring, LED headlamps, air suspension, adaptive steering, a sports differential, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, a cold weather package and 20-inch high performance tires. Final MSRP is $120,845.
Test drive in Phoenix, Arizona
The challenge in engineering a stretch-wheelbase sedan is to make it perform well in crowded urban areas where the streets are narrow and parking spaces tight. To see how well the A8 would do, I drove it into downtown Phoenix on a Friday afternoon and took the freeway home during the evening rush hour.
A combination of smart design and safety features make the A8 L especially well suited for the job. For example, the side mirrors fold flat when the driver locks the doors, to prevent passers-by from fiddling with them.
The rearview camera also projects a wide-angle view to the front when the driver is traveling at slow speeds, as one would in a parking lot. An additional overview camera picks up obstacles to the sides and corners of the car that the rearview camera might miss. While the cameras are projecting images in the center stack screen, the audio channel is muted so the driver can hear people moving outside the car.
Blind spot monitoring illuminates LED signals in the A pillars when adjacent vehicles are passing through his blind spots. The LED lights begin to flash if the driver begins steering out of his lane despite the warning.
The car’s interior is well insulated against road, wind and engine noise so occupants who are not driving can use the sedan as a mobile office. Audi connect turns the vehicle into a hotspot for internet access.
At the same time, the A8 is very much a driver’s car that excels on the open road. Front-to-rear weight balance is close to perfect: a hallmark of Audi performance. Engineers utilize aluminum components throughout the chassis to save weight whenever possible, while high strength steel in key areas boosts torsional rigidity.
As a result, the A8 handles like a much smaller car than it actually is, with precise steering feedback while the air suspension adapts to road surfaces and the driver’s style.
The eight-cylinder engine offers exceptional power off the line and in the 20-to-50 mile-per-hour range drivers use merging into high-speed traffic. The cylinder deactivation feature is invisible to the driver. The eight-speed automatic transmission shifts crisply with no noticeable shift shock during normal driving conditions.
Twenty-inch rims and summer performance tires on the test car give the A8 a larger footprint to enhance its high-speed performance on challenging roads. Large ventilated front and rear disc brakes stop the sedan on a dime.
Visibility around the perimeter is good. I was able to adjust the driver’s seat high enough to have a clear view out the front. The eight-inch color display at the top of the center stack does not interfere with the driver’s forward vision, nor does it have the problem of washing out in bright sunlight.
The wheelbase of the A8 L is about five inches longer than the regular sedan, translating to significantly more legroom in the second row. Knowing that some buyers would be using the A8 as a chauffer-driven vehicle, designers made sure that second-row occupants enjoyed all the comforts of those sitting up front.
Vents in the B pillars and behind the center console circulate air through the back of the cabin. A fold-down armrest contains seats position controls. A first aid kit stowed behind the armrest is easy for passengers to reach. Rear occupants also have their own set of climate controls.
The panorama sunroof on the test car has glass panels over both rows of seating. At night, both first-and second rows have overhead reading lamps.
The sedan’s trunk is not as large as I had expected. There is plenty of room for luggage and golf bags. A pass-through makes it possible to load in skis or a snowboard with the rear seats in place. Cyclists will be better served with one of Audi’s crossover vehicles.
Cargo nets keep small items such as grocery bags from moving around inside the trunk. A power control opens and shuts the trunk, making it much easier to load up armfuls of cargo.
The Audi A8 comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, all-wheel drive, adaptive xenon headlamps, a rearview camera stability control and tire pressure monitoring.
The factory warranty includes four years of roadside assistance and up to 12 months of complimentary scheduled maintenance.
Audi produces the A8 at its Neckarsulm, Germany assembly plant.
Like: A spacious, powerful high luxury sedan with the ability to function as a mobile office during the week and take on challenging high-speed roads during the off-hours.
Dislike: Expensive option packages add significant expense to the base MSRP.
Model: A8 L 4.0T quattro Tiptronic
Base price: $87,600
As tested: $120,845
Horsepower: 420 Hp @ 5000 rpm
Torque: 444 lbs.-ft. @ 1500 rpm
Zero-to-sixty: 4.8 seconds
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: Standard
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy*: 16/26 mpg city/highway
Comment: *The manufacturer requires the use of 91 octane premium unleaded gasoline.
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