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The standard features of the Audi A8 L 3.0T include 3.0L V-6 333hp intercooled supercharger engine, 8-speed automatic transmission with overdrive, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS), integrated navigation system, side seat mounted airbags, SIDEGUARD curtain 1st and 2nd row overhead airbags, rear side-impact airbag, driver and passenger knee airbag, airbag occupancy sensor, automatic air conditioning, 19" aluminum wheels, cruise control, ABS and driveline traction control.
Starting at: $82,500
Despite its weight, an A8 feels comparatively light and nimble, helped by its aluminum space frame. Quattro all-wheel drive provides sure-footed confidence, despite the suspension’s complexity. The torque split can vary between 40/60 and 60/40 front/rear, as needed.
Audi’s 3.0-liter V6 responds well, courtesy of strong low-end torque. However, it’s not especially smooth, and can become noisy when pushed hard. Acceleration to 60 mph takes 5.5 seconds, helped by well-spaced gearing in the transmission, which incorporates paddle shifters. Not only does the transmission shift smoothly, it seems to pick the best ratio without delay.
The available 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 is essentially the same engine used in the hot S8, but in a reduced state of tune.
Drive Select can control powertrain responses, steering weight, and suspension operation. Picking Comfort, Auto, or Dynamic mode can alter the experience from sedate all the way to dramatic. In Comfort or Auto mode, the transmission tends to shift quite early. Yet, pushing the pedal forcefully yields repeated downshifts. An Individual mode may be customized, to provide highway behavior between those two levels.
An A8 isn’t particularly frugal, which won’t surprise any typical buyer. With the V6 engine, the A8 L is EPA-rated at 19/29 mpg City/Highway, or 22 mpg Combined. Picking the V8 drops the city figure to 18 mpg. The S8 sedan is EPA-rated at 15/24 mpg City/Highway, or 18 mpg Combined.
Befitting its elegant, sophisticated nature, the A8 relies on subdued styling, with nothing flashy or excessive. Among the group of executive-level luxury full-size sedans, in fact, Audi’s A8 has one of the most restrained, low-keyed exteriors.
Substantially less sleek and dramatic than the Audi A7 sedan, the big Audi A8 isn’t short on detail work. Full-LED front lights and taillights, for example, highlight the expansive elegance of the sedan’s hood, along with its shoulders. For 2017, the A8 body gets a touch of flair, courtesy of the newly standard sport appearance, with its hint of the super-performance S8.
The Audi A8 cabin is plush and comfortable. Whether trimmed with leather, wood, aluminum, or plastic, the A8 interior seems to omit not a single thoughtful detail, augmented by use of excellent materials.
At startup, for instance, tweeters rise from the dashboard, which is surrounded by splashes of chrome. The gearshift lever is patterned after a yacht’s throttle control.
Standard seats have 18-way power adjustment and are upholstered in lush perforated leather, softly padded atop a firm structure. Four adults benefit from abundant space, especially the pair in back, helped by multi-zone climate control. If power adjustment is included, the right-rear passenger has access to a footrest, whereas the left-hand occupant enjoys massaging functions and a reclining seat. Audi’s standard infotainment system impresses, but some controls are duplicated needlessly.
A dual-panel sunroof keeps the cabin bright, with no loss of head space. Trunk space is ample, at 13.2 cubic feet, with a long lid and wide opening.
Serenely silent much of the time, the A8 keeps most wind and road noise from entering, though tire sounds might seep in while accelerating. Abundant leg space in the back seat helps make it possible for rear passengers to get work done in comfort.
With Audi’s Multi-Media Interface, a console knob permits scrolling and selecting audio, phone, climate, and navigation functions. Voice control doesn’t always respond properly to commands.
Packed with impressive detailing, Audi’s A8 is one of the quietest, most comfortable, and spacious executive-luxury sedans on the market. Whether V6- or V8-powered, every A8 gets all-wheel drive, an 8-speed automatic, leather, and power amenities. For long highway journeys, the A8 is hard to beat â€“ and well-off shoppers who demand ultimate performance can gravitate over to that sizzling S8.
Driving impressions by Aaron Cole, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.
Two engines are available for the 2017 A8 L.
A8 L 3.0T ($82,500) has the long wheelbase and includes the supercharged V6 engine, Quattro all-wheel drive, leather upholstery, navigation, full-LED headlights, power front and rear seats, a sunroof, and power-closing trunk lid. Standard infotainment boasts satellite radio, Bluetooth phone and streaming, Bose speakers, and a USB port.
A8 L 4.0T ($91,500) features the twin-turbo 450-horsepower, 4.0-liter V8.
S8 ($116,850), the super-performance edition, is built on a short wheelbase and comes with a 605-horsepower V8. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)