2012 Audi A8 L: Born to Borrow
June 19, 2012
With any car that passes through the fleet here, I ultimately wonder if it's a car I'd buy myself. Some answers are immediate, others come slowly. More importantly, I wonder if it's a car I'd keep long.
I bought my Cherokee new in April 2001. At the time, I remember thinking I'd try to keep it 10 years. I don't know why I picked 10, but it sounded like a good way to maximize the investment. Pay it off in five years, then get five years free. Eleven years and 158,000 miles later, I still have it. It's showing its age.
The Audi A8 doesn't feel like a car you keep for a decade. It feels like a car you lease for three years, or trade within five or six. Mostly it's because of all the electro-motive gadgets. Everything is motorized in here: the display, window shades, massaging seats, power folding mirrors, steering column. It's all great and fancy and feels like what you expect from $100,000.
But the A8 will be a pain in the ass in 10 years when all those little motors start breaking down. Maybe the powertrain and chassis remain solid after a decade and close to 200,000 miles (I realize it's an Audi, but suspend your disbelief for a minute). That's probably the most important thing. But I'd still be cheesed as one component after another on this car started to fail.
Eventually you'd just stop fixing things. The screen would remain stuck in place, you'd reach over your shoulder to raise the window shades, and you'd end up clipping your mirrors in a tight parking garage.
Finally you could just give up and rally-prep it.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor