Friday 6 January 2017

Audi A8 Saloon

Audi A8

Audi makes a wide range of cars, but the A8 is the biggest saloon the company builds. It’s in the same bracket as Mercedes’ S-Class or BMW’s 7 Series, and is as likely to be driven by a chauffeur as by the owner. As such, owners expect a great deal, from room, to opulence to technology, so can Audi deliver on all fronts?

Audi certainly ticks the engine boxes. The 6.3-litre W12 is simply an insane engine, but reluctantly we’re not going to recommend it as you’d need more money than sense. We love the 4.2-litre V8 as well, that’s a luscious engine. But we’re going to be slightly more sensible and go with the most popular engine choice, which is the 3.0-litre V6 TDI diesel.

If that sounds like we’re giving up on performance and being sensible, then think again. It’s a marvellous engine, potent, smooth, quiet and with power to surprise sportier cars that may not notice this sleek saloon. This is the one to go for, although if your bank reserves are fairly limitless, who could deny you the pleasure and excitement of the S8 or S8 Plus with the bi-turbo V8s that are true Jekyll and Hyde characters.

Audi A8

Drive goes through an eight-speed auto transmission to all four wheels, and that helps the handling as well as offering security on wet or icy roads. Handling is improved by the standard adjustable air suspension, with several modes. Stick it in Comfort or Auto and you’ll be happy to waft around with the noise levels kept to a bare minimum, aided further by double-glazing.

However, in either standard or long-wheelbase form, the ride isn’t quite up there with the S-Class. This is an older design and in areas like handling and ride it is apparent.

You sense the passing of time in the cabin too. It looks beautifully crafted and classy, but a new BMW cabin shows the advances over time. Everything is beautifully made, and we still like the 8in colour screen rising out of the dashboard. All it needs is a Hammond organ playing and you’d be away.

However, the A8 doesn’t cost what a Merc S-Class costs either. And you get four-wheel drive and Transporter chic too. And you can negotiate a substantial discount. Which of course means that residuals are pretty painful. You can lose 50% of value in the first year alone, and it doesn’t level off there.

Company car drivers won’t be that taken with the tax implications either, as CO2 levels are higher than newer versions of the competition. As mentioned, this is a car showing its age.

But it has a style, particularly in black, that exudes a rather muscular charisma. It may not be up there with the S-Class, but the depreciation is going to mean a decent used example is going to be within the reach of people who just couldn’t dream of owning the luxury Mercedes. Just make sure you keep spare white shirts and black ties neatly wrapped in the boot.

Audi A8

This forms just part of the extensive range of standard kit. You get sat nav, USB, Bluetooth, a 60gb hard drive, a superb sound system with its own subwoofer, reversing camera and all the rest. Even base SE Executive trim also has heated front seats, leather, powered bootlid, cruise control and dual-zone climate control.

Driver and front passenger get lots of comfy space to lounge in, but really this is about what happens in the back. You can specify two electrically adjustable individual seats rather than the bench if you want. If you’re doing that, then you’re probably also ensuring they go in the long-wheelbase option so there is substantially more space in the rear.

Even so, it still isn’t up to the yardstick of the Mercedes S-Class. But we do like some of the details, like the folding tables and the umbrella holder.



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