The Audi A4 is one of the best entry-level luxury sport sedans on the market. It is quick, stable, attractive and luxurious. In even its most basic configuration, the A4 offers incredible value to discerning buyers. When Edmund's editors first drove one of these amazing cars in 1996, we knew that good things were in store for this formerly troubled company.
Since the A4 was introduced, Audi has continued to roll out interesting and innovative cars. It seems that the bad old days of the Eighties are forgotten; company products that were once regarded as unreliable and unsafe in America have enjoyed a rebirth of reputation that once again places Audi's rings in the same rarefied atmosphere as the Mercedes-Benz three-pointed star and BMW blue-and-white propeller.
All that glitters is not gold, though, and we have found that some of Audi's shine wanes once we get past the wonderful A4. When editor-in-chief Christian Wardlaw tested the A6 last year, he found the car technologically advanced and sumptuously appointed, but unattractive and underpowered. Recently we got our hands on an A8, and walked away wondering what all of the fuss was about. This is not to say that the A8 is a lousy car, but its name makes us think "twice as exceptional as the A4," while its price and performance makes us think "bigger and much more expensive A4."
The A8 has aluminum space frame (ASF) construction, designed to make the car lighter and more nimble. Developed with aluminum manufacturer Alcoa, the A8 is the first mass-produced aluminum bodied car sold in this country. In addition to an aluminum body, the A8 also has an all-aluminum suspension and an aluminum engine. The A8 we tested came equipped with the 4.2-liter twin-cam V8 engine that is standard on all Quattro models. This motor puts out 300 horsepower and 295 foot-pounds of torque, numbers equal to the Seville STS and slightly more than the BMW 740iL and Mercedes-Benz S420.
The A8's performance package looks great on paper. It has a good power-to-weight ratio, with a rigid body structure and modern suspension. This combination means that the A8 is light on its feet, but the P225/HR16 all-season tires do not offer the grip necessary to make this vehicle feel truly sporty. The 4.2-liter engine has excellent mid-range and high-end power, but the A8's Tiptronic auto-manual transmission does not help provide the car with as much oomph off the line as the Cadillac Seville. The brakes, on the other hand, are top-notch, bringing the A8 to a faultless stop time after time.
During a run on our test loop through the mountains of Colorado, the A8 was solid and comfortable. The compliant suspension was perfect for absorbing the pockmarked secondary roads that are part of our testing, and the sharp steering allowed us to easily place this rather large car when entering turns. Turns, however, are what the Audi does not handle well. As previously mentioned, the tires on the A8 gave up their grip easily, breaking away from the pavement progressively, but much too early for a car with touring sedan aspirations. The powertrain's lack of low-end grunt further diminished this sedan's ability to move quickly through the twisties; even when using the Tiptronic transmission's manual mode, we were unable to get the A8 to pull authoritatively out of a tight corner. Having driven a BMW 740iL on this same loop shortly before testing the A8, we can only say that Audi has not yet reached their goal of matching BMW performance in the large car category.
The interior of the A8 offers some redemption for Audi's engineers. The spacious cabin is comfortable and luxurious, giving front and rear seat passengers ample room to stretch out. Our only gripe is one that we have about most German cars; the climate and stereo controls are difficult to operate intuitively and lack the necessary visual contrast to make them easy to see without taking one's eyes off the road. One of our favorite features on the A8 was the warm weather package. Consisting of solar collectors mounted in the sunroof that power a venting unit, it recirculates the air in the Audi even when it is parked in direct sunlight. When the temperatures in Denver approached triple digits this summer, it was a feature we were quite happy with. The Audi's interior was bearable even after an afternoon in the blazing sun. The warm weather package also features a power rear sunshade, perfect for keeping the sun off the backs of rear seat passengers. It also effectively blocks out annoying tailgaters. We have never encountered an automotive apparatus that more succinctly and eloquently blocks someone flipping you the bird. Press the button, the shade goes up, and it's the automotive equivalent of "Talk to the hand."
There was no agreement from our staff members about the A8's exterior styling. Comments ran the gamut from exciting to dirt dull. Production manager John Davis' girlfriend, an art history student at the University of Colorado, asked how much the car cost when first casting her eyes over the A8's aluminum flanks. When told that the tariff was over $71,000, she rolled her eyes and said, "It doesn't look like it should cost that much."
Davis' girlfriend hit a point that is shared by many of Edmund's editors. The A8 simply should not cost as much as it does. We realize that the A8 is a technological wonder; the all-aluminum construction, Quattro all-wheel drive system, rear passenger side-impact airbags, and interior cooling system are features that are impressive in almost any package. The problem is that the whole appears to be less than the sum of its parts. The car doesn't handle as well as its competitors, despite the wunderkind science that went into its development, it does not coddle in luxury, despite its high level of standard equipment, and it doesn't stand out in a crowd; an important feature for those plunking down twice the nation's median family income on a car.
This week we have been testing an Audi A4 against some stiff competition from Japan and the United States. At this writing, the votes indicate that the A4 will emerge as the victor. That car has luxury, style and performance dripping from every corner. When we get in the A8, we want to feel those same qualities times two. Maybe Audi shouldn't have made such a great entry-level car. They might have taught us to expect too much.
1998 Audi A8 Overview
The 1998 Audi A8 is offered in the following submodels: Sedan. Available styles include 4dr Sedan, and quattro 4dr Sedan AWD. A8 models are available with a 3.7 l-liter gas engine or a 4.2 l-liter gas engine, with output up to 300 hp, depending on engine type. The 1998 A8 comes with front wheel drive or all wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed automatic. The 1998 A8 comes with a basic warranty, a roadside warranty, and a powertrain warranty.
Is the 1998 Audi A8 a good car? Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 1998 Audi A8 and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 1998 A8 featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
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How do people like the 1998 Audi A8? Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 1998 Audi A8 and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 1998 A8 4.5 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 1998 A8.
Review Safety issues are my main complaints. An accident when I was run off the road into a 4'deep drainage ditch. $30,000s worth of damage and the passengers airbag fired with no passenger in the vehicle or anything on the passengers seat. Audi claims this is "normal" I do not think so a smart interlocked air bag is not a maybe situation. The external vision has far too many blind spots from tiny mirrors, large A and C pillers. In addition the rear seat head bolsters occupy about 30% of the usable visability when looking to the rear while backing up. The most important part of the rear window is the mid point down.
How can Edmunds help? Edmunds has deep data on over 6 million new, used, and certified pre-owned vehicles, including rich, trim-level features and specs information like: MSRP, average price paid, warranty information (basic, drivetrain, and maintenance), features (upholstery, bluetooth, navigation, heated seating, cooled seating, cruise control, parking assistance, keyless ignition, satellite radio, folding rears seats ,run flat tires, wheel type, tire size, wheel tire, sunroof, etc.), vehicle specifications (engine cylinder count, drivetrain, engine power, engine torque, engine displacement, transmission), fuel economy (city, highway, combined, fuel capacity, range), vehicle dimensions (length, width, seating capacity, cargo space), car safety, true cost to own. Edmunds also provides tools to allow shopper to compare vehicles to similar models of their choosing by warranty, interior features, exterior features, specifications, fuel economy, vehicle dimensions, consumer rating, edmunds rating, and color
1998 audi a8 4dr Sedan, 5-speed automatic, regular unleaded 18 combined MPG 15 city MPG/24 highway MPG
1998 audi a8 quattro 4dr Sedan AWD, 5-speed automatic, regular unleaded 18 combined MPG 15 city MPG/23 highway MPG
What options are available on the 1998 Audi A8?
Available Audi A8 1998 Submodel Types: Sedan
Available Trims: L 3.0T quattro, L quattro, L 4.0T quattro, L 4.2 quattro, 3.0T quattro, quattro, 4.2 quattro, L 4.0T Sport quattro, 4.0T quattro, L W12 6.3 quattro, L W12 quattro
Exterior Colors: Phantom Black Pearl Effect, Brilliant Black, Night Blue Pearl Effect, Glacier White Metallic, Ibis White, Ice Silver Metallic, Oolong Grey Metallic, Moonlight Blue Metallic, Quartz Gray Metallic, Northern Blue Pearl Effect, Florett Silver Metallic, Havanna Black Metallic, Cuvee Silver Metallic, Emerald Black Metallic, Oyster Gray Metallic, Arctic White, Cherry Black Pearl Effect, Light Silver Metallic, Mythos Black Metallic, Savana Beige Pearl Effect, Platinum Beige Pearl Effect
Interior Colors: Black premium leather, Nougat Brown premium leather, Black leather, Velvet Beige premium leather, Balao Brown premium leather, Sand Beige leather, Espresso Brown premium leather, Beige, Titanium Grey premium leather, Amaretto premium leather, Black, Light Gray premium leather, Velvet Beige leather, Black/Amaretto leather, Havanna Brown premium leather, Platinum, Silk Beige premium leather
Popular Features: AWD/4WD, Power Driver Seat, Sunroof/Moonroof, Leather Seats, Rear Bench Seats, Alarm, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Auto Climate Control, Multi-Zone Climate Control, Stability Control, Trip Computer, Upgraded Headlights, Electronic Folding Mirrors, Navigation, Tire Pressure Warning, Post-collision safety system, Bluetooth, Aux Audio Inputs, USB Inputs, Heated seats, Power Liftgate/Trunk, Back-up camera, Parking sensors, Pre-collision safety system, Mobile Internet, Cooled Seats, Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control, 360-degree camera, Heads up display, Keyless Entry/Start, Automatic Emergency Braking, Upgraded Stereo, 2nd Row Bucket Seats, Rear Entertainment System