2012 Audi A8 Long Term Road Test - Performance
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2012 Audi A8 Long Term Road Test

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2012 Audi A8L: How It Compares to 2012 Jaguar XF Supercharged

August 03, 2012

a8-vs-xj.jpg

These cars don't match up really. But a lot of you have been asking for a side-by-side comparison.

Here's how they match up on paper:

  2012 Audi A8 L 4.2 quattro 4dr Sedan AWD (4.2L 8cyl 8A) 2012 Jaguar XF Supercharged 4dr Sedan (5.0L 8cyl S/C 6A)
Base engine 4.2 L 5.0 L
Cylinders V8 V8
Drive type All-wheel drive Rear-wheel drive
Fuel tank capacity 23.8 gallons 18.4 gallons
EPA fuel economy (mpg) 18 city /28 hwy / 21 combined 15 city /21 hwy / 17 combined
Editorial observed fuel economy 18.8 mpg overall average 14.1 overall average
Horsepower 372 hp @ 6,800 rpm 470 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque 328 lb-ft @ 3,500 rpm 424 lb-ft @ 2,500 rpm
Transmission Eight-speed automatic Six-speed automatic
     
Front head room (inches) 37.2 37.1
Front leg room (inches) 41.4 41.5
Front shoulder room (inches) 59.1 56.9
Rear head room (inches) 39.1 37.6
Rear leg room (inches) 42.9 36.6
Rear shoulder room (inches) 57.8 56.4
     
Length (inches) 207.4 195.3
Width (inches) 76.7 73.9
Height (inches) 57.9 57.5
Front track (inches) 64.7 61.4
Rear track (inches) 64.4 61.8
Wheelbase (inches) 122.9 114.5
Curb weight (pounds) 4,453 4,306
Ground clearance (inches) 4.7  
     
Cargo capacity (all seats in place) 13.2 cubic feet 17.7 cubic feet
Maximum cargo capacity 13.2 cubic feet 32.6 cubic feet

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2012 Audi A8L 4.2 Quattro: Car vs. Bike

August 01, 2012

Audi A8 car vs. bike MotoGP.jpg

No, it's not the age-old "which is faster, a car or a bike" question. But rather, what's better to take to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for MotoGP?

This year I took our Audi A8L, largely because I agreed to go with some friends and, for various reasons, riding bikes was out of the question.

In the past I've always ridden a motorcycle to the MotoGP (formerly World Superbike) weekend at Laguna. And IT WAS AWESOME. Good friends to ride with, and of course we are very lucky to have some of the best two-lane roads between L.A. and Monterey. If you don't mind the trip taking the whole day, that is.

This also meant that by the time we got to our hotel after riding all day on Friday, we were completely wiped out. Sun, heat, wind, usually lugging a heavy backpack, and hard riding have that effect.  

This year driving the A8L? I was fresh as a daisy, despite still taking most of the day to get there because we made several sight-seeing stops along the way (something I never did on my motorcycle). 

In summation: I definitely missed riding my motorcycle this year, but there's also something to be said for the comfort of a car, too. And not being in a huge rush for once. 

Maybe the solution is next year I take all the good back roads I would usually take on my motorcycle, but I do it in a sports car instead. 

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 18,826 miles.

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2012 Audi A8L 4.2 Quattro: MotoGP weekend

July 30, 2012

Audi A8 MotoGP lead.jpg

As expected, the Audi A8L proved a perfect vehicle to transport myself and three friends up to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the MotoGP weekend. Honestly, it's hard to imagine being more comfortable. Especially the two in the rear seat. Maybe if the rear seats reclined...

For me, I found the driver's seat a fine place to while away the miles on Highway 101 and Pacific Coast Highway. Of course I love the cooled seats, but also the massage feature. One of my friends thought that the massage should be even deeper/harder on the highest setting, but I thought it was alright.

The 4.2-liter V8 has plenty of power to move this huge car, and it's always silky-smooth in operation. Sounds good, too. The transmission, as well, has near-imperceptible upshifts.

About my only complaint is that the center- and door armrests could use a bit more cushioning. 

We averaged 21.4 mpg over the nearly 800-mile round-trip journey.

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2012 Audi A8L: Now That's A Brake

May 24, 2012

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I dig the big disc brakes on our A8L. Of course, you'd expect them on a big German executive sedan bred for the autobahn. But it's a nice reminder that this car means business.

In case you are wondering, the front rotors measure 380 mm in diameter, or 14.96 inches. The A8L's listed weight is 4,453 pounds. A Chevy Suburban 2500 4WD weighs 6,419 pounds. Front brake diameter? Thirteen inches.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 15,562 miles

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2012 Audi A8L: Rolling Big For 900 Miles, Pt. II

April 03, 2012

audi a8l fuel sears pointless.jpg

I wasn't kidding when I said our longterm 2012 Audi A8L makes high speeds easy. On my trip from Los Angeles to Sonoma and back, I set the cruise between 80-85 with some miles spent at 90-95-ish. 

The A8L's adaptive cruise is pretty good as these systems go. It doesn't get freaked out easily by curving freeways and certainly allows a less-conservative following distance than our Equus' cruise. Still, I'd prefer if there was a way to turn the adaptive part off. In certain driving circumstances -- randomly-scattered cars all traveling roughly the same speed with no lane discipline (did I just describe every US highway?) -- adaptive cruise actually requires more intervention on behalf of the driver than does conventional cruise. Doh.

Anyway, the trip fuel economy for this jaunt worked out to 21.6 mpg.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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2012 Audi A8L: It Ain't Broken. Let's Fix It.

March 28, 2012

A8 shifter.JPG

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 

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2012 Audi A8L: Transmission Is Also Really Good. Mostly.

March 09, 2012

 audi_a8_trans1.JPG

Helping to further the charm of the A8's 4.2-liter V8 is the ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission. It upshifts quickly for fuel economy, but throttle tip-in isn't overly laggardly. It also responds pretty willingly to modest increases in throttle (climbing grades, for instance) and selecting the appropriate gear for a downshift. If you need a little more response, the Sport mode usually will do you right.

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2012 Audi A8L: Engine Is A Great Match For The Car

March 07, 2012

 audi_a8_v81.JPG

Sometimes a car and its engine don't quite seem to in tune with each other (our Infiniti M56 seemed that way to me). But the 4.2-liter V8 in the Audi A8 is perfect for this large luxury sedan.

What a sweet mill. Sure, it doesn't have the twin turbos of the BMW 750i or the bigger displacement of the Mercedes S550. But the acceleration times are on par and it revs so smooth that the 7,000-rpm redline seems like an injustice. Plus, the sounds it makes are sophisticated, highly enjoyable and just at the right volume -- you know it's a V8, but it's not too loud or overbearing.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @10,392 miles

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2012 Audi A8L: Oh, So This Is What $100,000 Feels Like

February 24, 2012

 audi_a8_hwy99.JPG

Man, this car is just built for freeway driving. First, there's the impenetrable ride quality. You can sense the A8 driving over pavement cracks and seams, but the impacts never actually make it to the driver seat or your butt. It's just solid. Then there's the utter stability at speed, the ultra-adjustable driver seat, the sweet-sounding audio system and the tech gizmos like adaptive cruise control and blind spot monitoring.

Usually there's a law of diminishing returns for the pricing of cars. Yet, is the A8L 2.5 times better to drive on the freeway than, say, our S60? Quite possibly.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2012 Audi A8L: Finally a Big Audi

January 30, 2012

A8 big.jpg

I spent the weekend in our Long Term Audi A8 and the whole time I couldn't help but love it. I couldn't put my finger on what it was for the first night, but by day two I had it figured out. Day three I snapped this picture and then earlier today, Erin posted the exact opposite conclusion I'd come to.

The 2012 Audi A8L is a big car and, for the first time, feels like a proper big car. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

This may force me to hand in my car-guy card, but I'm going to say it: I don't like small, light cars.

They're great for that section of Mulholland from the Rock Store to Kanan and then from Latigo down to PCH, but whether you take the 101 or PCH to get to those roads, the drive is better in a big car. Light cars get better fuel economy. Big cars don't care. Plus, in a big car you don't even need to bother with those twisty roads, just keep the windows down and keep on keepin' on up PCH.

It was that feeling of open-road cruising that made (non British) cars so cool in the 50s and 60s. And that is where the 2012 Audi A8L truly excels. It doesn't shrink around you like some sort of prom dress, it owns the road from the second you fire up that big V8 until you do a 67-point turn to get it back into your parking space.

It doesn't turn on a dime and it doesn't carve corners -- though it does grip pretty well -- it's a proper full-size luxo-barge that finally competes with the S-Class and 7-Series.

Some would say that it's not a driver's car, but that would depend on a very narrow definition of the word 'driver.'

Mike Magrath, Features Editor, Inside Line @ 9,000 miles

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2012 Audi A8 L: It Lost Some Personality

January 30, 2012

audi_a8_badpark.jpg

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

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2012 Audi A8: Least Favorite Shifter in the Class

January 28, 2012

audi_a8_shifter.jpg

The lack of feedback from the modern electronic shifters that are now in every luxury sedan with an automatic transmission drives me up the wall. But the gear selector in our long-term 2012 Audi A8 just might take the cake.

Thing is, the shifter looks cool. I see it and I want to use it. But regrettably, I simply don't have the mental capacity (at least not until nano-augmentations are available to those of middle income) to apply the correct amount of force on a consistent basis.

And so when I want to to go from Drive to Reverse, I regularly apply too much force and end up in Park. And when I want to shift from R to D, I apply too little oomph and end up in Neutral and then the car won't go and then I look up at this display...

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2012 Audi A8L: 5,000 Mile Road Trip, No Snow

January 25, 2012

 A8-in-snow-1.jpg

This picture is misleading. That isn't even a road, it's the bottom of a ski trail. After we took this photo we were chased out by security. 

Fact is, with the exception of a little rain between Detroit and Memphis on day one of the return trip to L.A., we hit zero weather. No snow. Not even through the highest peaks of Colorado which reached above 10,000 ft. according to the Audi's altimeter.

We were disappointed. Very disappointed.

When I made this same drive a few years ago in a BMW X5 (to Detroit) and a Cadillac CTS (back to L.A.) I hit more snow than I anticipated and loved every minute of it. Well, except for that time I almost got the Caddy stuck in western Michigan, or that time I got it sidways on the interstate on some black ice and would've put it into the guardrail if it weren't for my keen driving skills and catlike reflexes.

With those memories still fresh, I chose the all-wheel drive A8 for this trip months ago. But, ultimately, the Audi's Quattro system, didn't get to prove its foul weather worth. Maybe next time I should drive further up the ski slope in the interest of research.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2012 Audi A8L: Steady at 100 mph

January 24, 2012

 A8-at-100-mph-1.jpg

No, we didn't drive from Santa Monica to Detroit and back at 100 mph. That would be unsafe and unlawful. But we did sample the high speed stability of the Audi A8 during a brief run on a closed course. We even turned it over to a professional driver for the test.

As you would expect from a full-size, long-wheelbase German sedan, the Audi A8 likes the ton, as The Rockers and Steve McQueen used to say. It's very steady and relaxed at speeds that will get you arrested in any of our 50 states.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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IL Track Tested: 2012 Audi A8L vs. 2011 Audi A8

December 26, 2011

 a8a8_flipper.jpg

 When we placed the order for our Long-Term 2012 Audi A8L there were two warring factions. One side, let's call them the Reasonables, wanted us to get the 19-inch wheels with the 255/45R19 tires. It's a luxury car, so why compromise the ride with big wheels?

The other side, we'll call them The Crazies, wanted us to get, in lieu of the not-available-on-the-LWB car-Sport package, the 20-inch wheel package with 265/40R20 summer performance tires. They said that 20s would look cooler (they don't) and that the summer rubber would grip better and offer less sidewall flex (it does).

When our 2012 Audi A8L showed up with 19s, half of us cheered and tried to sign it out immediately. The other half groaned and tried to sign it out immediately, but with some grumbling that all-season tires are pointless in L.A. and that valets would laugh at the tiny 19s and that the performance numbers we recorded in a short-term 2011 Audi A8 with the 20-inch wheel and summer tire package would be untouchable by our new car. So we took a look at the numbers: 2012 Audi A8L with all-season 19s vs 2011 Audi A8 with 20-inch summer rubber. Who takes it?

                                  2012 Audi A8L                    2011 Audi A8                         

0-30 (sec.):                                   2.3                                2.2
0-45 (sec.):                                   3.7                                3.5
0-60 (sec.):                                   5.5                                5.2
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec.):        5.2                                5.0
0-75 (sec.):                                   8.1                                7.7
1/4-mile (sec @ mph):           13.8 @ 101.6                 13.6 @ 102.5

30-0 (ft):                                       31                                 27
60-0 (ft):                                     121                               106
Skid pad lateral accel (g):       0.83                              0.87
Slalom                                       65.1                              66.3 (stability on)

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2012 Audi A8L: Great Engine

December 22, 2011

 A8-engine-1.jpg

This is a great engine. V8. All aluminum construction. DOHC. 32 valves. Direct injection. 4.2 liters of displacement. It's smooth, powerful and it revs to its 7,000 rpm redline like its wants to go to 8,000.

It's not the largest V8 in the large, luxury sedan class, and with 372 hp, nor is it the most powerful. But it feels special in the A8, and it's personality and demeanor perfectly match Audi's unique mix of sport and luxury.

But this engine's best feature is...

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2012 Audi A8L: Back to the Future

December 21, 2011

 2011_audi_a8_r34_1.jpg

We've only had our long-term 2012 Audi A8L a short while (then it spent a whole month in the body shop) but we originally road tested this black A8 more than a year ago. It was so long ago that the editor that wrote the piece, Dan Pund, doesn't even work here anymore. Soon after he reviewed the Audi for us he bailed for bigger bucks at Car and Driver.

Despite that, I thought it would be fun to look back at our road test and see if our first impressions of the big Audi sedan are holding up.

Turns out our impressions from a year ago are holding up very well, but I should point out that the black A8 we tested last year was a short wheelbase model with the 20-inch summer tire option. A much sportier offering than our long-termer, which is the long-wheelbase with the 19-inch all-season rubber. By the way, 90% of A8s sold are long-wheelbase with all-seasons.

Due to the added wieght and less aggressive rubber, there should be a measurable performance difference between the two A8s. When we report the test numbers delivered by our long-termer at the test track (tune in next week) we expect them to be a bit behind the numbers turned by the A8 we tested last year. 

Our only real gripe with the car a year ago was its styling, which we dinged for being too similar to an A4. Otherwise we lapped the Audi with high praise. So far our long-termer is just as sweet.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2012 Audi A8L: I Like this Car, But ...

December 08, 2011

2011_audi_a8_r34_lt_10241111_815.jpg

I volunteered to pick our A8 up from the body shop yesterday. I wasn't terribly busy and I could think of worse things to do than spend an hour driving back from Burbank in the A8.

I'll cut right to the chase, I like this car. I like this car a lot, and not just because it's $100,000 and has all the bells and whistles. I'll begin listing things now.

The interior is just spectacular. You can't really appreciate in pictures the attention to detail and the quality that goes into this cabin. Whereas Audi is credited with improving Bentley, I think the A8 shows that interior development goes both ways. It may not be as elegant and overtly luxurious as a Mercedes S-Class or a Jaguar XJ in appearance, but when you really look closely at the craftsmanship, the A8 is second to none in its class.

And that's just the cabin. It drives brilliantly. Audi has really nailed its driver-selected drive settings in a way that BMW can really learn from. The A8 (and other Audis) allows you to individually set the umpteen different dynamic settings so that if you want meaty steering in sport (far better than the hyper quick darty set-up of the A4's "Sport" setting) and the more comfortable suspension you can do it. Even with full sport on, it doesn't transmit that artificial sense of aggressiveness It also maintains your preferred settings when you turn the car back on. Regardless of settings, you really feel connected to the A8 compared to the isolation I felt in our old 7 Series. The way the A8 remains composed over the most pockmarked and undulating strips of pavement is truly impressive. You really need to remember that there's 20 feet of German limousine behind you since it drives much smaller than it is.

I could go on, but there's a whole year for that. I really like the A8, but ... and you know it was coming. I mean, I put it in the headline. I really like the A8, but I wouldn't buy it. It looks like an A4, and I don't even particularly like the A4. Seriously, from the rear, they are completely indistinguishable. The A8 has a bolder face, but the entire car is so conservative it makes Sean Hannity look like a mohawked Occupy New York tattoo enthusiast.

If you could somehow get the craftsmanship and engineering of the A8 with the the flair of the Jaguar XJ, you'd probably have the perfect car. Maybe the Mercedes CLS comes closest to that, but I can only hope that in the future Audi can apply some of the visual interest of its coupes to its sedans.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor

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2012 Audi A8L: The Wine Country Look

November 01, 2011

2011_audi_a8_4.2-fsi_f34_jpg 

As great as the Audi A8 looks, you really want to park it someplace nice and take a picture.

To help season this car a little before we took it to the test track, I drove it to Monterey for a pointless Porsche racing deal that was going on up there. And the A8 did its requisite time parked in front of a Vesuvio, a restaurant in Carmel that’s not too bad. Probably I should have taken a picture.

But this car is so much more than dinner transportation.

It’s the stuff that’s under the style part that really makes you like it, and a drive through the Monterey wine country in the valley next to the Salinas River on my way back to L.A. helped me figure it out.

Swanning around the wine country seems like something best experienced in some slow sedan with a British nameplate, but it turns out to be a way messier business than you expect. If you’re trying to get to some winery that’s actually good, it’s always up some back road that you’ve never been, and you’ve got to get across bad farm roads to get there. There’s always a water truck on the road ahead, some tractor is always darting out of a vineyard and across the road, and the pavement (if there is pavement) is spackled with dried mud. Plus there’s a good chance that many of the people on the road with you are either lost or drunk, which produce surprisingly similar driving techniques.

Forget all that propaganda you read in food and wine magazines, a trip to the wine country is really like rallying.

So the things about the Audi A8 that you really appreciate the most in an exercise like this have to do with the stuff under the fenders, like all-wheel drive, big brakes and wide tires, plus there’s the navigation system’s ability to display every little road (even if it can’t always remember what it’s called).

Never mind the picture of the Audi A8 in the food-and-wine style in front of a restaurant; here it is on a bad road next to some winery that I’ve never heard of and probably could never find again anyway. Even across a couple of ridges I could still hear the cars still racing back at the track, which is probably appropriate. 

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 1,180 miles

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2012 Audi A8L: About That Shifter...

October 28, 2011

audi-a8-shifter.jpg

Can I be the first to complain about our new A8? Yes? Oh good then because the shifter in this thing drives me nuts.

As you can see it's a beautifully crafted piece. It fits in your hand nicely, the button is in the right place and it's short so it doesn't get in the way. But the way it works is terrible.

Check out the shift pattern, looks pretty standard eh? It is, but the shifter itself doesn't move that way, it only moves down and up one notch. So when you're in park you pull it down and you're in reverse right? Not quite, depends how hard you pull. Sometimes you get reverse, sometimes you get neutral. Pull real hard and you get drive, how quaint.

The real problem is when you need to go between drive and reverse, like when you're parking. Unless you're staring right at the shifter, you have no idea what gear you're in. Most of the time I find myself falling into neutral at some point, which leads to plenty of engine revving and not very much movement.

Some might say, "Don't worry, you'll get used to it." But really, should you have to get used to something as simple as an automatic transmission shifter? Uh, let me answer that for you, no.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line

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