The flagship Audi A8 is a full-size luxury sedan meant to appeal to wealthy consumers looking for maximum luxury and space. Although competing models from the premium German and Japanese marques may sell in greater numbers, the A8 does possess a distinct advantage because of its aluminum frame and body panels. Significantly lighter than a traditional steel structure, the Audi Space Frame (ASF), as it's called, helps offset the weight of the car's Quattro all-wheel-drive system; the A8's competitors are primarily rear-wheel drive.
Thanks to Quattro, winter weather capability is one of the Audi A8's strengths. Luxurious accommodations are another, particularly with the last couple of generations. As with other Audis, understated luxury and cutting-edge electronics combine to form an experience that delivers refinement in abundance. Though it's sometimes overlooked, the A8 is a fine choice for a luxury flagship.
Current Audi A8
The Audi A8 is a full-size luxury sedan available in standard and long-wheelbase ("L") forms. Even with standard all-wheel drive (AWD), the A8 still weighs less than most of its rear-wheel-drive rivals, let alone those fitted with optional AWD. The A8's AWD system has a rear-biased power split, which helps to provide a sportier feel akin to a rear-drive performance sedan.
There are six trim levels: 3.0T, L 3.0T, L 3.0 TDI, 4.0T, L 4.0T and L W12. The 3.0T trims have a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 with 333 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. Like all A8 engines, it runs through an eight-speed automatic transmission. The 4.0T trims have a turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 that makes 420 hp and 444 lb-ft. The W12 features a 6.3-liter 12-cylinder engine that cranks out 500 hp and 463 lb-ft. In addition to these gas-fueled powerhouses, there is the 3.0 TDI, a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 rated at 240 hp and 406 lb-ft. Regardless of engine choice, acceleration is swift, with the 0-60-mph sprint ranging from around 4.2 seconds to 6.3. Fuel economy is also notable, with the TDI in particular rated at an impressive 28 mpg combined.
Of course the A8 comes loaded with all the latest high-tech features. Highlights include a dynamic steering system that can intervene with automatic countersteering in a slide, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability, automatic emergency braking, and night vision with thermal imaging and pedestrian detection. Audi's MMI electronics interface features an additional touchpad interface that reads fingertip gestures as letters and commands. Google Earth mapping for the navigation system is another A8 exclusive.
Beyond the sumptuous cabin, which features front and rear seats that can be adjusted in a multitude of ways, there's also the big sedan's impressive ride and handling characteristics. The ride is comfortable without excessive float over bumps. When pressed on a curvy road, the A8 proves surprisingly agile, with nicely weighted steering. Rear seat room is ample in the regular-wheelbase model, while the A8 L provides more than enough legroom for a pair of 6-footers.
The A8 undoubtedly lacks the name recognition and styling flair of its fellow Germans, but don't let that stop you from giving it strong consideration. With its roomy, best-in-class cabin and excellent driving dynamics, this luxury sedan shines as one of the strongest picks in its segment.
Read the most recent 2015 Audi A8 review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Audi A8 page.