November 15, 2012
Read the introduction of this vehicle to our long-term fleet.
See all of the blog posts on this vehicle.
What We Got
For years Audi's A8 has been chasing its German rivals. Sales dominance by the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7 Series kept the Audi from gaining much ground, and even with a barrage of commercials telling buyers that the A8 was every bit the competitor, it's been a tough road. The 2012 Audi A8L was an all-new sedan that once again tried to be different. It still have subdued styling, but the cabin bristled with beautiful materials and the latest electronic gadgets. Seemed like as good a time as any to see if Audi had finally cracked the code.
Our order started with a long-wheelbase A8L as it's the volume seller. The standard engine is a healthy 372-horsepower, 4.2-liter V8. The monstrous W12 was tempting, but we had visions of 500-mile fuel range that the large displacement engine could not deliver.
A healthy serving of options accompanied our A8L. The $6,300 Bang & Olufsen sound system was first, adding to the $84,700 base price. Next was the Driver Assistance package, which included numerous safety aids: pre-collision, lane departure and blind spot warnings, and adaptive cruise control for $3,000. The Driver Select package added dynamic steering and the Quattro sport differential for another $2,300. We also opted for the 22-way adjustable comfort and climate controlled front seats with massage. Together, LED headlights and the Cold Weather package raised the tab $2,400 more.
When we finished the A8L had an MSRP of $101,575. Our long-term car budget breathed a sigh of relief when Audi offered to supply this vehicle for testing. Once it arrived there was no shortage of requests to take the big cruiser out for a drive. Here's what we found:
- "This is a great engine. V8. All aluminum construction. DOHC. 32 Valves. Direct injection. 4.2 liters of displacement. It's smooth, powerful and revs to its 7,000 rpm redline like it 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 its personality and demeanor perfectly match Audi's unique mix of sport and luxury. But this engine's best feature is the way it looks...Audi gets it." — Scott Oldham
- "Reasonable grip, but throttle is rather abrupt, making on/off transitions to adjust understeer more difficult. Still, the chassis is surprisingly cooperative to change its attitude...the A8L is both communicative and forgiving. Steering is, not surprisingly, artificial in its weighting but the A8L goes right where you point it. Seats hold you in place pretty well. And yes, I had the seat coolers on." — track test comments from Mike Monticello
- "The 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...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." — Mike Magrath
- "Sometimes, the best intentions end in tears. Ok, that's too dramatic, I wasn't crying (no, I just had something in my eye). So there I was, shuttling our brand-spanking new Audi A8 from the test track to an undisclosed location. Then WHAM! Something hit the passenger side of the Audi, and hit it hard." — Mark Takahashi
- "The billion-way adjustable seats are amazingly comfortable. Not a hint of road butt even after five hours in the saddle. And that's without using the massage function, which I forgot all about until late in the trip." — Jason Kavanagh
- "So I had my iPod hooked to our new A8L the other night, and my wife turned the volume down to hear something my daughter said from the cavernous back seat? when I turned the volume back up I was surprised to learn that the music had been paused by the very act of turning the volume to zero. I love it." — Dan Edmunds
- "That's right, I'm blogging to you from our A8L traveling 65-plus mph down the freeway...Obviously I'm not driving at the same time? Sometimes the loading times lag, as it's dependent on whether the car gets a strong 3G signal.... But otherwise it's so cool! I even IM'd editor Mike Magrath from my laptop while traveling 65 mph on the 580 up near Livermore. His reaction? 'That's kind of rad. We're living in the future.' Yes, we are." — Caroline Pardilla on the A8's onboard WiFi
- "I'm an expert at installing child seats. Do it in a different car every week, and I've been doing it for four years. I have perspective on the good and bad, what works and what doesn't.... The A8L makes it difficult. Largely, it's because the LATCH anchors are so close to the seatback and the material surrounding them is so dense there's no way to elegantly attach the seat hooks. I wrestled with this for 10 minutes before finally connecting one. The other took less time, but was no easier. There's just no justification for this." — Josh Jacquot
- "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." — Jason Kavanagh
- "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?When you're in park you pull it down and you're in reverse, right? Not quite, depends how hard to you pull. Sometimes you get reverse, sometimes you get neutral. Pull real hard and you get drive, how quaint." — Ed Hellwig
- "The A8L's trunk holds 13.2 cubic feet of air. It was plenty of space for my needs in this scenario, but psychologically, it felt smaller than it should. I looked no further than our long-term Camry to confirm my suspicion. The Camry has 15.4 cubic feet of space in the trunk." — Mike Schmidt
- "Our A8 is packed with the $6,300 Bang & Olufsen advanced sound system with 19 speakers and 1,400 watts.... On the highway, the A8's crypt-quiet cabin allows the sound system to shine, too. You'd have to struggle to hear any intrusion from the road, wind or engine noise. And this, at least to me, is just as important as the speakers and system. So yes, the B&O system is quite impressive." — Mark Takahashi
Maintenance & Repairs
The A8 required no unscheduled maintenance. It never let us down.
The first time our A8 requested maintenance it was on the return leg of a Los Angeles to Detroit road trip. There were 5,000 miles on the odometer. Audi picked up the tab for this first service. But the next morning we were back. Santa Monica Audi overfilled the oil. Two hours later, we were back on the road.
At 15,000 miles we tasted the A8 life after free maintenance expires. Our service experience at Michael Automotive Audi in Fresno was pleasant, but expensive.
Audi of Santa Monica updated the TCM software and replaced the rearview camera control module at our first service. Beyond that, the A8 avoided any recalls or TSBs.
We did encounter some additional repair costs. The first was courtesy of mystery road debris, which cost $2,785 and 28 days in the body shop. Of that total, however, we paid just our $1,000 insurance deductible. But insurance did not cover the windshield. That met its fate on a California highway. It dipped into our wallet for $833 more.
Fuel Economy and Resale Value
Observed Fuel Economy:
We recorded an average of 18.3 mpg during our 21,000-mile test of the A8L. The best and worst single tanks were 25.7 mpg and 10.9 mpg, respectively. What left the biggest impression was its range. At one point we stretched it over 520 miles on a single fill-up.
Resale and Depreciation:
The MSRP of our A8L was $101,575. Based on a private party sale, Edmunds TMV Calculator (TMV) valued our used A8L at $81,423. This equated to depreciation of 20-percent, which is reasonably strong.
Pros: The 4.2-liter V8 develops ample power and looks good to boot. Optional front seats are some of the best in the business. Plenty of room in back, too. Enough electronic gadgetry to satisfy even the most cutting edge technophile, but not so complicated that luddites can't turn on the air conditioning.
Cons: Poorly thought out shifter design, trunk is smaller than most midsize sedans, big turning circle limits maneuverability in tight quarters.
Bottom Line: This A8 compares favorably to its competitors in every respect. It's a technology-packed, highly exclusive executive sedan with both solid road manners and engaging performance.
|Total Body Repair Costs:||$1,000|
|Total Routine Maintenance Costs:||$476.32 (over 12 months)|
|Additional Maintenance Costs:||$833.65 for windshield|
|Warranty Repairs:||TCM software update, replace rearview camera control module|
|Non-Warranty Repairs:||Replace windshield|
|Scheduled Dealer Visits:||2|
|Unscheduled Dealer Visits:||1 for windshield replacment|
|Days Out of Service:||28 at the body shop|
|Breakdowns Stranding Driver:||None|
|Best Fuel Economy:||25.7 mpg|
|Worst Fuel Economy:||10.9 mpg|
|Average Fuel Economy:||18.3 mpg|
|True Market Value at service end:||$81,423 (private-party sale)|
|Depreciation:||$20,152 (20% of original MSRP)|
|Final Odometer Reading:||21,324 miles|
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.