What's New for 2001
The Electronic Stabilization Program (ESP) now comes standard, as does a multifunctional steering wheel with audio, telephone and Tiptronic controls. Audi adds an oil level sensor to the A8 and an Office Package consisting of an electrically folding desk and minibar/cold storage for the rear seat is added to the options list.
The A8, introduced to the US in 1996 as a 1997 model, is aging gracefully. Sporting senior A4 styling, sumptuous interior appointments, and the revolutionary Audi Space Frame (ASF), the A8 is lighter, tighter and more responsive than many other super-luxury competitors.
Employing lightweight aluminum-alloy construction, ASF is designed to provide superior structural rigidity, improved handling and responsiveness, better fuel efficiency and easier recycling. Gas-filled shocks, beefed-up frame reinforcement, and lightweight suspension components further contribute to ride comfort and handling in the A8.
The A8 L offers an extended wheelbase, with more head-, shoulder- and legroom for rear occupants. It also includes Electronic Stability Program (ESP), a global positioning Audi Navigation System, and heated "comfort" front and rear seats. The A8 4.2 quattro, which has all-wheel drive and a 310-horsepower, 4.2-liter, twin-cam aluminum-alloy V8 engine under the hood, sports 40 valves (five per cylinder) and makes peak torque of 302 foot-pounds between 3,000 and 4,000 rpm.
Safety is not ignored in the A8. Dual front airbags are supplemented by side airbags tucked into the front seats. Rear passengers also get side airbags, mounted to the seat rather than the door panel. Audi's Sideguard head airbag system consists of inflatable curtain airbags installed in the headliner along each side of the car, which cover the windows in the event of an accident and remain inflated for five seconds to protect the head in case the vehicle rolls over.
Audi's vaunted quattro all-wheel-drive system is standard. Additionally, Electronic Differential Locking (EDL) provides low-speed traction control operating through the standard antilock braking system (ABS). Electronic Braking-Pressure Distribution (EBD) is included with the ABS system, and ensures that maximum braking capacity can be utilized whenever needed, regardless of road or load conditions.
Inside, drivers will find an interior slathered in real wood and Valcona leather upholstery. Front seats are power adjustable in 14 different ways, and a memory feature accommodates four different settings for the driver's seat, exterior mirrors, driver's headrest height and steering wheel position. The front passenger seat also gets a memory feature for 2001 and a multifunctional steering wheel with audio, telephone and Tiptronic controls is now standard on the A8. The steering wheel tilts out of the way when the key is removed from the ignition. The automatic dual-zone temperature controls employ two sunlight sensors to help maintain accuracy.
Despite its rather expensive price tag, the A8's technological advances and long list of standard equipment should prove desirable enough to continue bringing BMW, Lexus and Benz intenders into Audi showrooms.