AS THE bellwether for the Audi brand a lot is expected from each new iteration of the A8.
Over the past four model changes of the Audi standard bearer, the A8 has grown increasingly impressive in stance, performance and equipment.
No reason to look away from this formula then as the latest version grabs the swirling challenges facing the motoring industry and powers forward along the well-defined pathways of form and function.
If space is the final frontier, the new A8 lets you bask in oodles of it. It’s time to stretch out and chill on Valcona leather at the back, where you can have screens to watch whatever you fancy, control the ambience and luxuriate in the moment. And there’s ample room in front, without having to worry about shifting from your sweet spot to accommodate large passengers in the back.
There’s also bag loads of space in the boot. And if you’re standing at the back, admiring the fine lines, you can also enjoy the light show.
But for all its expanded dimensions over its predecessor, the A8 is a sharp performer. The turbocharged V6 is pumped up and ready to take off when needed. There isn’t any warp-speed launches, but floor it and it flies. 0-100kmh in 5.9 seconds is an easy glide. Anything beyond that is more of the same…no complaints or unwarranted noises or shakes from the largely aluminium space frame.
But behind the scenes, the brains of the A8 is functioning at light speed. A slew of technological beacons are checking the road, monitoring the engine, how you’re driving and adjusting how the car performs, all the time making it seem like you’re in control.
Looking The Part
Considering the large hexagonal grille and all those lines running across the front, this has to be one cool engine. But aesthetically it does set up the A8 to move from a busy front to a sleeker form that dips towards the back. The end result is a car that doesn’t look big, which may or may not appeal to some sectors who want that sense of ostentation about their chariot.
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For a car with a lot of surface area, the challenge is often about mixing materials so that it doesn’t come across as bland or boring.
The A8 combines an array of textures and finishes. The Alcantara roof lining is contrasted with black piano finish panels, matt wood hues, leather in various colours, matt metal.
Somehow they come together without looking forced or out of place.
The new interior design language of the A8 speaks of few buttons and lots of polished areas to leave behind your DNA. Touchscreens are the way to go, it seems, following our mobile devices. Porsche has moved in this direction and the effect is a sleek interior.
Similarly, with the A8, the initial impact of that shiny, glassy surface is impressive, with two large screens and the haptic feedback that delivers a more satisfying experience. Until you start leaving your marks all over them and are forced to regularly wipe things down.
But the space allows a lot of information to be fed you, mainly for your own safety.
When you start the engine, the air vents open up and the desired fragrance fills the cabin. What’s your preference, sea air or mountain air?
Up to five driver profiles can be saved, automatically adjusting seats, air-conditioning, lighting, navigation and media. The last will likely be a bluetooth or cable connection with your phone and powered through the Harman Kardon sound system.
Magic Carpet Ride
For you to enjoy the creature comforts of the A8, from the legroom to the ventilated seats and AV system, you should have a ride that is akin to what you would image a magic carpet would offer. Those in the back can appreciate that, especially with the ample legroom, and video displays, if installed.
The delivery of the 3L engine is smooth, unharried and thanks to turbocharging disproportionate to its size and the weight of the car. With dynamic all-wheel steering the A8 is nimble and easy to manoeuvre.
It takes a few short breaths to get up to 100kmh, literally floating serenely and remaining unflappable.
But it’s probably best to turn off the auto start/stop function. You can still feel the shudder when the engine powers back to life.
If you’re still after a big car in this era of prudent spending and mindful motoring, you’ll be pleased to know the new A8, despite its larger footprint and heftier form, shows better figures than its predecessor for consumption and emissions.
Bigger can be better.
AUDI A8 L TECH SPECS
Engine: V6 direct injection turbocharged
Max Power: 250kW@5,000-6,400rpm
Max Torque: 500Nm@1,370-4,500rpm
Transmission: 8-speed tiptronic/automatic
VES Band: C2
0-100kmh: 5.7 seconds
Top Speed: 250kmh
Retail price: *$437,479
Please reconfirm price with dealer.
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