2012 Audi A8 L: It Lost Some Personality
January 30, 2012
I had planned on liking our 2012 Audi A8 L*, because I really liked the last one.
The second-generation A8 was, and is, a handsome sedan, with a wonderful cabin, and it was one of those cars that just shrank around you and felt deceptively small through corners. Of course, it helped that it was first-in-class with an aluminum unit-body (well, actually, the first-gen A8 was the first big luxury sedans to go that route, but you know what I mean), so it was lighter than its rivals. It was more than that, though. Everything in the second-gen A8, save for maybe the transmission, worked together so nicely -- steering, suspension, brakes -- that it really felt like it wanted to be a sport sedan. It was certainly more of a sport sedan than the flabby A6.
*(Yes, when you drive a car this expensive, you absolutely can park like a jerk across three spaces and get away with it. I just paid off all the parking staff with the money I was otherwise going to burn.)
The third-gen A8 (this car) is still light for this class, though the stunning Jaguar XJ that no one is buying is also very light. But it doesn't have the personality of its predecessor. It certainly doesn't want to be a sport sedan... there's just not enough steering feel for that. Switching up the Drive Select settings to my taste helps some -- for the moment, I've settled on "Dynamic" for the suspension and "Auto" for everything else, but I'm thinking may have to go back to Dynamic for the drivetrain, too.
I don't like thinking about settings. I want the car to feel interesting with everything set to Auto. And the A8 doesn't really, though maybe a long road trip would change my mind about it. Instead, Audi's top sedan just feels big. And it is big. But I want it to lie to me and insist that it's small, like the old one did.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 8,990 miles