2012 Audi A8L: It Ain't Broken. Let's Fix It.
March 28, 2012
I don't like the A8's gateless shifter. In fact, I don't like the move -- especially among German carmakers -- to eliminate shifters whose position is dependent on the gear selected. This new style shifter always returns to the same central position after selecting a gear.
Besides saving a very small bit of real estate on the center console, I fail to see how this is any better than a traditional gated shifter. And, for me, that reason doesn't justify the other compromises.
Because this shifter always returns to the same position, it's not possible to detect which gear is selected without looking down at the instrument panel or the shifter itself. And that precludes you from slapping between reverse and drive quickly should you ever need to do so. I know, I know. Sounds meaningless.
Unless you actually need to do it.
In that case, finding the right gear quickly becomes a contest between Park and Neutral. And while you're looking down at the shifter to figure out what to do next, traffic is bearing down on you relentlessly. And that dog doesn't hunt here. This is L.A. where meter maids eat their young and eveyone loves to hate a rich guy in a fancy car.
Also, no Rockfords.
Just give me a gated shifter. I promise you won't find me floundering during the critical moments.
Josh Jacquot, Senior editor