2012 Audi A8: What's It Like to Live With?
Read the latest updates in our long-term road test of the 2012 Audi A8 as our editors live with this car for a year.
What do you want to know about?
- About That Shifter...
- Person of Interest
- Release the Hounds!
- LED Headlights
- 2012 A8L: Well, That Didn't Take Long
- The Zero Volume Pause
- A Macro Look at Interior Materials
- The Wine Country Look
- Interior Video Tour
- Endless Features
- Massages for Everyone!
- Starting Video
- Where Am I?
- Delivered to the Body Shop
- Aw, I Miss It
- Back from the Dead (Body Shop)
- I Like this Car, But ...
- Audi Connect
- Seat Heaters Give You 10 Minutes
- Checking the Oil
- Back to the Future
- Great Engine
- IL Track Tested: 2012 Audi A8L vs. 2011 Audi A8
- We Should've Got the Night Vision
- A Look Underneath
- L.A. to Detroit and Back
- Hitting 5,000 Miles
- Service Due!
- At the Dealer
- Unique Service Experience
- Too Much Oil
- Mirrors are Too Easy
- Oil Level is Level Again
- 5,000 Mile Road Trip Fuel Mileage
- 5,000 Mile Road Trip and Serious Range
- 5,000 Mile Road Trip in Photos
- Dynamic Steering (with video)
- MMI is OK
- Steady at 100 mph
- 5,000 Mile Road Trip, No Snow
- How It Handles Low Fuel
- Setting the Mooood
- Setting Up the WiFi
- Distance to Empty
- Least Favorite Shifter in the Class
- 5,000 Mile Road Trip, Where We Slept
- How I Roll
- It Lost Some Personality
- Finally a Big Audi
- I Want It All
- Massaging Seats Make Me Giggle
- Heated Steering Wheel
- Taking a Backseat
- Chunky Monkey
- Lane Assist
- Clean Windshield
- Volume Currently Unavailable
- Luxury That Blends in
- Dog Report
- Power Soft-Close Doors Still Awesome
- Needle Need
- 10,000-Mile Milestone
- Oh, So This Is What $100,000 Feels Like
- Spotting The Differences
- Face First
- Stuck In Traffic? Let ACC Take Over
- Like The Interior Design
- The Other Home Office
- An Evening Out
- Engine Is A Great Match For The Car
- Transmission Is Also Really Good. Mostly.
- Audi-O Impressions
- Magrath Is A Weirdo
- Self-Sealing Doors
- Technology Deployment
- Practical Trunk Space
- And Another Thing
- As BSM Goes, I Do Like This One
- High Rider
- Radio Preset Buttons
- 18-Way Adjustable Front Seats
- Looks Richer in a Darker Color
- Seat Cushion Length Adjustment — Good Range
- The Eight-Pound Ashtray
- 22-Way Adjustable Seats
- Blogging at 70 mph
- It Ain't Broken. Let's Fix It.
- Rear-Seat Climate Control Mystery
- Paddock Relief
- Question Of The Day
- Messing With Radar Detectors
- Yesterday's Driver
- Frantic Fan Speed
- Pedals Are Too Close
- Rolling Big For 900 Miles
- Rolling Big For 900 Miles, Pt. II
- Trunk Smaller than the Camry
- Champagne Flight
- Ready for Its Close-up
- The Sound of No Hands Clapping
- Now That's A Brake
- Like It More Than the 7 Series
- Trying To Look The Part
- Word Of Mouth For The A8
- Expensive But Pleasant 15,000-Mile Service
- Further Evidence
- 8-Month-Old Windshield Found Dead
- Der Kofferraum Ist Kaputt (Updated)
- Phennighausen, You Were Right
- Future Audi A8L To Have 4G?
- Audi-O Comparison
- Are We Clear? Crystal.
- Warning - May Cause Drowsiness
- Pricing vs Audi A8 L 3.0T
- What Causes ACC To Cancel Itself?
- Born to Borrow
- Closer Than I Thought
- Emphasis on the L
- Radio Presets
- Which Way Is Up?
- A Little Extra in Back
- What Would You Add to the Options List?
- Let The Door Hit You
- On The Road Again
- MotoGP weekend
- Car vs. Bike
- How It Compares to 2012 Jaguar XF Supercharged
- Not Consistent
- Actual Trip Miles
- Back-to-School Blues
- Still The One
- Segment Winner in New Quality Report
- August Sales
- 20,000 Mile Milestone
- She Wants to Be Alone
- Maybe We Can Get This Next
- Its Own Favorite Playlist
- It's Seat Heater Season
- Sunshades Are A Hot-Weather Essential
- Fine Leather
- Family Affair
- Good Guy Door Locks
- Molding Mishap
- Fourteen-Hundred Watts of Sonic Awesomeness
- Protective Parking
- So, did the bike fit?
- Spa on wheels
- Listening Old School
- Rear Head Restraints
- Goodbye Big Friend
Hardly anyone knew our new long-term 2012 Audi A8L was on its way by the time an e-mail went out announcing its arrival. Sure enough, the relentless clicking of keyboards suddenly stopped as we read the message. Window stickers were downloaded and audible gasps were heard. The price tag topped $100,000.
Clearly, it was loaded and clearly it would become a highly sought after road trip car. In fact, not 10 minutes after it arrived, the first request was in. This was going to be a comfortable and feature-laden 20,000 miles.
What We Got
To say that our new long-termer is loaded would be to grossly underestimate how much stuff a car can actually hold. For starters, the 2012 Audi A8L comes standard with *deep breath* a 372-horsepower 4.2-liter V8, eight-speed automatic transmission, Quattro all-wheel drive, 19-inch wheels, adaptive suspension, cruise control, a power glass sunroof, adaptive xenon headlights, headlight washers, LED running lights and taillights, 18-way heated power seats, automatic climate control, power rear sunshades, keyless entry and start, Audi parking system, power soft-close doors, automatic trunk, MMI with retractable color screen, Bose surround sound and an iPod cable. To get this, you only need to find $85,575 in your bank account.
The Driver Assistance package costs $3,000 and adds adaptive cruise with stop-and-go capability, Audi pre sense plus, lane assist and side assist. The Drive Select Plus package runs $2,300 and includes a Quattro sport differential and dynamic steering. The Premium package ups the number of seat adjustments from 18 to 22 and includes a massage function; Audi thinks this is worth $2,000. LED headlights are $1,600 and the Cold Weather package heats the rear seats and the steering wheel for $800. And then there was the Bang & Olufsen sound system that runs $6,300.
We intentionally skipped out on the 20-inch wheels with summer tire package to get a bit of sidewall and a better ride. Plus, aren't 19s big enough?
Total cost: $101,575.
If you think that's bad, though, here is a quick list of options we could have picked up: full leather pack with Alcantara headliner: $6,400; rear-seat comfort pack: $3,200; Audi night vision: $2,300; $4,000 Audi Design Selection package that mandates the $12,500 Executive Rear Seating package. Tick the right boxes and it's easy to push this car to over $130,000. Without opting for the W12.
Why We Got It
Audi has been a second-class citizen in the luxury segment for decades now. Some of the lesser models have made inroads with customers, but the A8 has always been nearly invisible. In our full test of a 2011 Audi A8 we pointed out that despite its being a fine car, the last A8 had about 2 percent of the full-size luxury car marketplace, while the S-Class and the 7 Series each had about 30 percent.
This latest A8 was once again designed to put Audi on equal footing. It has every last feature imaginable, along with a tasteful design and plenty of power. For the next 12 months we're going to pile up the miles to see if this new A8 would get our nod were we shopping in this category. Follow along on our Long-Term Road Test blog to see if it finally measures up.
Current Odometer: 1,856
Best Fuel Economy: 25.7
Worst Fuel Economy: 17.3
Average Fuel Economy (over the life of the vehicle): 20.6
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
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.
Did you see the CBS show "Person of Interest" last night? The guest stars were Paige Turco... and the 2012 Audi A8L, just like our long-term car! Except the prop car was painted black, way more attractive than our silver test car.
Anyway, Ms. Turco and the show's star Jim Caviezel have a rendezvous with some bad guys, which results in some good old-fashioned Action. Surprisingly, the prop A8 receives some pistol round hits, unlike most shows where the car goes unscathed.
Hit the jump for the fab clip, and stay 'til the end to see the damage on the A8. (Sorry for the embedded ad; that's CBS, not us.)
Happy Friday! Something funny before you head out to your weekend. (Who's still at work? Oh, that would be me. Heh.) LOVED this Audi A8 commercial when it first aired in February this year during the Super Bowl. Pretty smart and love the tagline. Did you watch it without laughing once? Come on. Kenny G!
Hit the jump for the Luxury Prison ad.
Our 2012 Audi A8L sports a pretty mean and complicated-looking set of headlights — LED headlights.
Every 2012 Audi A8 comes with LED DRLs, the thin blue-white underline seen above. A closer look reveals 22 LED segments strung closely together so they appear as one.
Actual LED headlights are a stand-alone option on the A8, an option that'll set you back $1,600.
Amber LEDs are contained within the same 22 reflective elements as the DRLs, allowing them to serve double-duty as turn signals and 4-way flashers.
Ten larger LED segments blaze into action when the low beam headlights come on. I didn't have a chance to take them out into a pitch black desert night, but in general use around town they produce a clear even pattern of light. As you might guess from looking at them the upper cutoff isn't a sharp straight line; it's more diffuse with a hint of scalloping when you get up close to a garage door.
Things start to get menacing when the high beams come on. These lamps are LEDs, too, according to Audi press materials, and they're very bright.
These so-called "all-weather lights" point outward at a sharp angle to illuminate the shoulder and the verge. As with all other such fog or driving lights in these United States, they only work in low-beam mode; they wink off when you turn on the brights. They're controlled by a seperate button off to the side of the main rotary headlight switch.
Are the Audi's LED headlights worth it? On wow-factor alaone, I'd say yes. The light they throw down is certainly clear and bright, and the pattern doesn't seem to have any dim spots. A full coverage test on a very dark road will surely come in the months ahead. You can bet this won't be the last blog post that'll be written about them.
Sometimes, the best intentions end in tears. Ok, that's too dramatic, I wasn't crying (no, really, I just had something in my eye, or something). So there I was, shuttling our brand-spanking new Audi A8 from the test track to an undisclosed location. Then WHAM!
I was on the 60 Freeway, amongst the big rigs and other cars when it happened. I'm guessing a car in front of me ran over something. That something hit the passenger side of the Audi, and hit it hard. It scared the…well, let's just say it startled me. I never saw it coming and never saw it leave. I did, however, catch the F-150 in my mirrors swerve out of the way of whatever it was that clipped the A8.
The passenger-side mirror was hanging by some wires as I continued on the freeway. I was hoping that it was only some damage to the mirror housing. But no, when I finally stopped, I saw that the object (I'm assuming it was Wolverine's severed hand) hit the front quarter panel before it struck the mirror.
You know that sinking feeling in your gut that you get when you've screwed up? Yeah, that was what it was like for me. Like doctors, the first rule of being an automotive journalist is to do no harm. And sure, it's not like I was doing donuts in a parking lot and smashed through a fruit stand, but still, it happened on my watch. I'm just hoping it doesn't keep the car out of circulation for too long.
So I had my iPod hooked to our new 2012 Audi A8L the other night, and my wife turned the volume down to hear something my daughter said from the cavernous backseat.
The conversation lasted a few minutes, and 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. This is especially useful for podcasts, audiobooks and other spoken-word recordings where you don't want to miss a single word of what's being said.
Maybe there are other examples of this, but I have not previously noticed this in any other long-term test car. Whether this turns out to be unique or not, this is iPod intergration at a detail level.
Well, first, I can't believe our brand-new 2012 Audi A8L was available to me last night. Jumping in its driver seat and hitting the start button, I was taken back to that moment in childhood when I was floating in that boat in the "It's a Small World" ride in Disneyland. You know that moment toward the end of the ride when all the kids from all over the world are singing together and there's so much to look at? In the A8 the nav screen popped out of the dash, the sound system tweeters rose at the corners of the greenhouse near the A-pillars and the steering wheel moved toward me. Neato! Donna will have a video of this soon.
Anyway, back to the interior materials of this ultra-lux Audi. Alcantara, leather, highly polished inlay, polished wood. It's all so gorgeous. I just sat in the car and enjoyed its new car smell for five minutes before starting the car. For the record, I shot these close-up shots with my iPhone 4S and not my regular T3i.
What do you think? Does this look like the interior of a $100K+ car?
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.
I'm going to sit down this weekend and go through the owner's manual of our A8. Yes, really. This car has so many features, I'm sure you want to know everything it does.
There was a soft chime that went off a few times on my drive to work this morning. No cars were around me so it wasn't the proximity sensors. I've experienced them and they are not soft. Quite the opposite. I don't know what the chime was trying to tell me. At first I thought it was part of my music. No warning lights flashed, no messages. So, I'll have to RTM. (I'm trying to cut all swearing out of my life so I left out the F.)
I found this small storage compartment (pictured above) inside the door armrest this morning. Here it is closed:
I've heard rumors of a zen lighting feature that I want to find. It's like a treasure hunt.
Sorry for the soft photos. I was in a low-light situation and master Oldham frowns on camera flash.
I know you're probably all dying to hear how our 2012 Audi A8L drives and someone will get to that soon, I promise. But I just want to call out the massage feature in the car. OK, not only does it offer pulse and wave to the driver but also to the passenger! Yup, now the front-seat passenger gets the full treatment, too (including memory seats). Now THAT's luxury. So you don't have to feel guilty (not that I would) getting pampered.
Here you get five different massage options: Wave, Pulse, Stretch, Lumbar and Shoulder. And you get to choose the intensity of each one by selecting 1 to 5. Honestly, I couldn't really tell the difference between the first three massage functions or all five of the different levels of intensity, but who cares? It felt niiiiice! It actually moved up and down on either sides of my spine. Pair the massage with the seat heaters and I am in heaven.
The massage function shuts off automatically after 10 minutes. If you're bored there's a tutorial by Audi on how the massage (1:58) and memory seats work after the jump.
A few of you asked for a video of the Audi A8 starting so you could see the navigation screen and the tweeters pop up. I shot this in two different locations in case you can see better in one than the other.
When most people use a navigation system, they want to know where they're going. Right, left, right, over the bridge and then to the address. But personally I've long since given up on knowing where I'm going.
I just want to know where I am.
And at this, the navigation system of the Audi A8 seems pretty good.
What I want from a navigation system is more than just an address finder. What I want is also a kind of adventure map when I'm driving cross-country. Probably I'm the only person who thinks about what's outside the map screen. I want to know what the nearby towns are, and the main geographic features, and the points of interest that are not McDonald's.
The Audi's navi seems to work out for me because it's pretty good at finding those little squiggly roads in the middle of nowhere, the back roads along the creek that I'm always looking to drive. The Audi system's bird's-eye view combines these roads with a geographic perspective in a way that's more than just the abstraction you typically get from other map systems with this view.
The trouble is, the Audi's map logic also seems reluctant to name all the side streets in a town like Monterey unless you actually have a destination plugged in, and this keeps you from knowing where you are when you look at the map display. This is trouble for me because either I don't know where I'm going because I'm wandering around, or I do pretty much know where I'm going in a general way and am just route-finding on the fly, and in both cases there's no destination programmed into the system.
At least that's what I think is happening. A complete navigation system is singularly complex and I need to use this one more and read the owner's manual more carefully.
But at least it knew where I was when I parked in front of Brown's Cycles, which is in an old gas station on the north side of Paso Robles. Since the 1940s, three generations of flat-track racers have run this shop and there's always an interesting bike in the window. I saw this 1970s Yamaha-powered dirt-tracker as I passed by on U.S. Highway 101 and wanted to let photographer Kurt Niebuhr know, since he would be running the same route the next day.
Like me, Niebuhr likes a certain kind of motorcycle, something very extreme and yet very basic. Maybe this is why we both like our long-term 1985 Porsche 911 Carrera. After all, it's just a motorcycle with a roof.
We'll see where else the A8's navigation system leads me. But as to the exact destination, there's no telling. As the saying goes, I might not know where I'm going, but at least I'm making good time in getting there.
So what happens after your aluminum-bodied 2012 Audi A8 is damaged by freeway debris? It's time to call in the pros. And when you don't own the A8, Audi of America decides which body shop you visit.
DC Autocraft in Burbank received our A8 yesterday. This shop isn't the closest to our offices, but they are certified for aluminum work and they've earned the respect of Audi. That in itself holds some weight. When you find a trusted shop, you stick with them. I wonder what it will cost to repair. Any guesses?
We had our 2012 Audi A8L for merely a week or so before it had to go to the body shop after a little mishap. And I only got to drive it twice, luxuriated over its interior materials, sigh, but am jonesing to get back in it.
With Thanksgiving around the corner, we had hoped it would be ready for a holiday road trip but unfortunately it's not looking good.
In any case, I've been Googling the car to feel closer to it (unfortunately it doesn't have a Facebook page), enjoying its commercials (aw, Goodnight, Moon), a video of an A8's lighting sequence and got sidetracked into watching Top Gear. After all that, what's the first thing I want to do when it gets back?
Have someone take me for a nice, long road trip somewheres while I sit in the back, heh.
But, seriously, what would you like us to blog about it upon its return? I know we're overdue for driving impressions. Anything else?
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.
Because our Audi A8 has the MMI Navigation Plus package, it also comes with a three-month complimentary subscription to Audi Connect, which brings wireless into your car. We just had it activated and will be exploring its features over the next months. Besides enhanced navigation, weather, and gas prices, it can make your car a WiFi hotspot with access for up to 8 devices.
Anything in particular you want us to try?
I'm a grown up. I know when I'm hungry and what to do about it. I know when I'm cold and know what to do about it. I know when I have to use the potty, when I should sleep and when I need to pay the electricity bill. I also know — because I'm an adult and because I have pain receptors — when I'm too hot. I don't need you to automatically turn down the seat heaters from level 3 to level 2 exactly 10 minutes after I've turned it on. You've provided a button for turning it down. One I've already proved I could use by turning it on in the first place.
Let me, and the people smart enough to afford this car in the first place, make our own decisions. Thanks.
Ten minutes almost to the second after I took the fist photo I took this one. Level 2. Not what I requested. Not what I wanted. Barely warm. Like sitting on the couch immediately after a sleeping cat had vacated the spot.
Yes, there have been cases of malfunctioning seat heaters burning people or of disabled drivers being injured because they couldn't feel the seat heaters causing burns. These conditions, however, are not the norm. Not even Toyota is this paranoid.
I woke up sick today. Like full blown flu sick. So I'm going to make this short and sweet.
This morning I checked the Audi's oil level. Took a few seconds and I didn't have to leave the driver's seat. As you can see there has been some consumption, but not enough for me to engage in the labor of popping the hood and pouring some in. I'm sick remember.
I should also point out that the Audi is starting to warn us that its first oil change will be due at 5,000 miles, which seems a bit early. I'll check the sedan's owner's manual and get back to you on that one.
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.
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...
...the way it looks. Audi sweats the details, and it has detailed the A8's V8 perfectly. I've started opening the sedan's hood just the gawk. Few automakers are still making this kind of effort under the hood. But Audi has turned engine and engine compartment dress into an art form.
Check out the finishes, the shapes and the intricate detailing. Notice the red coils, the badging and the proper display of intake runners. Everything is symetrical. This is the kind of specialness you see on a handmade, one of a kind hot rod designed by guys like Chip Foose. Cars that win the AMBR and Ridler awards.
Audi gets it.
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|
|0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec.):||5.2||5.0|
|1/4-mile (sec @ mph):||13.8 @ 101.6||13.6 @ 102.5|
|Skid pad lateral accel (g):||0.83||0.87|
|Slalom||65.1||66.3 (stability on)|
Vehicle: 2012 Audi A8L
Driver: Mike Monticello
Drive Type: Longitudinal, front-engine, all-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Eight-speed automatic
Engine Type: Naturally aspirated, direct-injected V8, gasoline
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 4,163 (254)
Redline (rpm): 7,000
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 372 @ 6,800
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 328 @ 3,500
Brake Type (front): 15-inch ventilated discs with 2-piston sliding calipers
Brake Type (rear): 14-inch ventilated discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Suspension Type(front): Independent multilink, pneumatic springs, driver-adjustable multimode variable dampers, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Independent multilink, pneumatic springs, driver-adjustable multimode variable dampers, stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): 255/45R19 M+S 104H
Tire Size (rear): 255/45R19 M+S 104H
Tire Brand: Continental
Tire Model: ContiProContact
Tire Type: All season
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 4,460
0-30 (sec): 2.3 (2.4 w/TC on)
0-45 (sec): 3.7 (4.0 w/TC on)
0-60 (sec): 5.5 (6.0 w/TC on)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 5.2 (5.7 w/TC on)
0-75 (sec): 8.1 (8.6 w/TC on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 13.8 @ 101.6 (14.1 @ 100.8 w/TC on)
30-0 (ft): 31
60-0 (ft): 121
Slalom (mph): 65.1 ( 64.6 w/TC on)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.83 ( 0.83 w/TC on)
Db @ Idle: 44.1
Db @ Full Throttle: 72.1
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 60.9
Acceleration: Awesome grunt off the line. Power braking with transmission in Sport switches the A8L to "Audi quick-shift mode," with super-fast-but-abrupt upshifts, dropping 0-60 time by a half second. Otherwise, transmission shifts very smoothly. Hearty V8 sounds. Button on steering wheel engages Manual mode for the paddle shifters. Will not hold gears to the rev limiter (shifts at 7,000). Blips throttle on downshifts.
Braking: Short stroke, firm pedal, minimal nosedive, zero side-to-side wiggle but lots of ABS commotion. First stop was shortest at 121 feet. Longest was fourth stop (out of six) at 126 feet. No pedal fade.
Skid pad: Having the A8L in Dynamic mode gives heavier steering than we usually find in the slow speeds of the skid pad. Reasonable grip, but throttle is rather abrupt, making on/off transitions to adjust understeer more difficult. Still, chassis is surprisingly cooperative to change its attitude. ESC just barely cuts throttle and adds brakes.
Slalom: Soft suspension (even in Dynamic) with plenty of roll, but grip is decent and the A8L is both communicative and forgiving. Steering is, not surprisingly, artificial in its weighting but the A8L goes right where you point it. ESC cannot be fully defeated. The system's limits are pretty high, but there was always some brake intervention by the last couple of cones when really honking along. Seats hold you in place pretty well. And yes, I had the seat coolers on.
Vehicle: 2011 Audi A8
Driver: Chris Walton
Drive Type: Longitudinal, front-engine, all-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Eight-speed automatic
Engine Type: Naturally aspirated, direct-injected V8, gasoline
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 4,163 (254)
Redline (rpm): 7,000
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 372 @ 6,800
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 328 @ 3,500
Brake Type (front): 15-inch ventilated discs with 2-piston sliding calipers
Brake Type (rear): 14-inch ventilated discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Suspension Type(front): Independent multilink, pneumatic springs, driver-adjustable multimode variable dampers, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Independent multilink, pneumatic springs, driver-adjustable multimode variable dampers, stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): P265/40R20
Tire Size (rear): P265/40R20
Tire Brand: Goodyear
Tire Model: Eagle F1
Tire Type: Summer Performance
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 4,336
0-30 (sec): 2.2 (2.5 w/TC on)
0-45 (sec): 3.5 (4.1 w/TC on)
0-60 (sec): 5.2 (6.2 w/TC on)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 5.0 (5.7 w/TC on)
0-75 (sec): 7.7 (8.7 w/TC on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 13.6 @ 102.5 (14.1 @ 100.9 w/TC on)
30-0 (ft): 27
60-0 (ft): 106
Slalom (mph): 66.3 ( 65.5 w/TC off)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.87 ( 0.82 w/TC on)
Db @ Idle: 45.5
Db @ Full Throttle: 69.4
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 62.7
Acceleration: Slight delay in default Drive/Auto modes. Engine is freakishly quiet and distant. Engine is very smooth; however, in Sport/Dynamic modes all that changes dramatically, especially with brake-torque launch where it leaps off the line and bangs off harsh upshifts. The result? A full second quicker to 60 and another 2 mph in trap speed in the quarter-mile. Deceptively fast.
Braking: Moderately firm pedal throughout seven runs. Started out short and got progressively shorter distances. Near zero dive in dynamic mode and arrow-straight. Powerful, fade-free and trustworthy.
Skid pad: Tires are easily tortured with ESC off but chassis does a good job of staying composed with informative (but light) steering. With ESC on I felt the throttle close slightly, so no tire abuse.
Slalom: After realizing how long this car is I eventually found understeer at the limit with ESC off. Rewards slow-in, fast-out technique. Crisp turn-in, plenty of grip and good transitional response. Went faster with ESC on. Couldn't beat the electronics this time. Impressive.
This isn't the dash of our Audi A8. We decided against this $2,300 option. This is the dash of a 2012 Audi A6 we tested back in July.
Now, I'm sure there are a lot of safety reasons to have night vision, but here in L.A. it's never dark enough for the system to work properly. It does, however, show you which vehicles have been driven recently and thus lets you know how long your boss has been in the office before you. Or, if you're the boss, how long your underlings have been there.
Not sure if it's worth the price, but it's pretty neat to play with beyond avoiding pedestrians and animals walking around at night.
This morning photographer Scott Jacobs and I put our long-term Audi A8L up on our 2-post Rotary Lift for a look at its guts and gizzards.
Photographer Scott Jacobs and I are driving our long-term 2012 Audi A8L to Detroit. We left Santa Monica this morning.
If you have to ask why it's time to turn in your Car Guy membership card.
Fact is I had this trip in mind when I speced out our A8 many months ago. I ordered the long-wheelbase and the smaller (19-inch) all-season tires because I was already thinking, "What a great car to drive to Detroit in the middle of winter to attend the auto show."
I did this once before. A few years ago I drove to Detroit (also in January for the auto show) in our long-term BMW X5 and back in our long-term Cadillac CTS. It was a blast.
Jacobs is coming with me because we have a a bit of a road trip history. Twice we've crossed this country in the pursuit of great BBQ. The first time in our long-term Audi R8 and the second time in a Porsche 911 Turbo we nicknamed the Brisket Express. Both times we dined in Texas.
Not this time. This time we'll hit Kansas City and St. Louis. Maybe Memphis on the way home, but honestly I don't think there will be time.
The Audi's Sat Nav says Detroit is 2,400 miles from my house. We will get there Sunday, hit the auto show Monday and Tuesday and I'll drive back solo starting Wednesday morning.
Wish us luck.
When we left Santa Monica for Detroit back on Thursday Jan. 5th the Audi's odometer read 3,246 miles. In other words, we knew this milestone would take place near Topeka, KS on Saturday morning. And it did,
It also marked the end of a trouble free first 5,000 miles for the big, silver sedan.
We knew this was going to happen. We knew when the A8 hit 5,000 miles it would be due for its first oil change. We knew it would happen and we had a plan.
Turns out we had a bad plan.
"When we get to Kansas City," we thought. "We'll just call the local Audi dealer and zip in for a quick oil change."
Yeah well. When we got to KC we called. But the service advisor on the phone said the procedure on the A8 would take two and half hours. We were shocked.
"Really?" we said to him. "What would take so long? It's just an oil change."
The man told us there was an abundance of undercar shielding that needed to be removed and other general complications. We cried bull, but he insisted that was the deal.
We didn't have that kind of time. We needed to be in Detroit early the next day for auto show business. More importantly we had an appointment with some quality bbq in St. Louis that night.
We passed. Don't tell Audi, but we didn't have much choice. We would just have to get the oil changed back in Santa Monica the following week. Yes, after 3,500 more miles of driving.
And it will finally happen tomorrow morning. We have an appointment at Santa Monica Audi at 9:30.
We'll let you know how it goes.
This morning I dropped our long-term Audi A8 at the newly refurbished and quite lavish Santa Monica Audi for its 5,000 miles oil change. The staff was polite and organized. Our service advisor Angel Aguilera had us in and out in just a few minutes.
He also asked me if I needed a loaner vehicle for the day. I declined, as Magrath was already waiting for me outside in our Volvo S60. Next time we'll take him up on it.
Yesterday Scott dropped our 2012 Audi A8L off for service. Now I know why. Audi of Santa Monica has an approach I haven't seen at other dealerships.
See this young lady at the valet booth? She greets every customer at their door and escorts them to a service advisor who is waiting in a warm office about 10 steps away. Then it's back to her post to resume texting. Maybe Words With Friends? Anyway, I watched her do it four times while waiting for a porter to pull out in our A8. That's her job.
I'm sure there is a caption contest in here someplace, but I'll leave that to you...
Oh, and you might want to hear about the service too. This first service was complimentary. In addition to the oil change there was a TCM software update and a rearview camera module update. Neither were problems we'd experienced so far.
Too Much Oil
Yesterday we had our 2012 Audi A8L serviced at Audi of Santa Monica. Perhaps they should spend more time monitoring the amount of oil they put in customer cars and less time dressing the valets.
The A8 with the 372 horsepower V8 calls for 8.14 quarts of oil (the 12-cylinder calls for 12.16) and, as far as we can tell, they charged us for only 8 quarts. So either they didn't drain it enough or their oil distribution device is miscalibrated. Or that they didn't change the filter out, but that seems unlikely since they charged us for a new filter. (Note: Charged here means noted on the work order, the service was free.)
Eagle-eyed readers will remember that this is not the first time we've had issues with VW over-oiling. Back in '09 VW of Santa Monica overfilled our Jetta.
It's back at the dealer now.
I got into our long term A8L the other day and immediately noticed something I hated: The side-view mirror on the passenger side had tilted downward to show me the bottom of the pole I was trying not to hit.
The mirror presumed I was going to park next to a curb and was protecting its too-big (but not as silly big as they could be — we didn't get the goofy 20s) wheels.
So, instinctively, I went into the MMI to custom tailor this. Here's what I found instead: I can adjust the passenger seat with the driver seat controls; I can adjust the brightness of the interior accent lighting in either the front top, front footwell, rear top rear footwell or all areas; I can customize the door locks (all open on unlock, do not autolock); I can set the wipers to a service position; I can set easy entry (off) and probably 1,000 other things I've since forgotten, but I could not figure out how to turn the curb mirror off.
Foiled and tired of looking at the ground, I knew it was time to RTFM.
That's it?? I mean, I'm grateful that this feature is a) available and b) easy to use, but with everything else bundled into the main computer system, I'd assume this would be as well.
Sometimes the most obvious solution is the one you try last.
One day after our routine service visit we received a warning that we had too much oil. That was yesterday. So we drove the car straight to Audi of Santa Monica and told our advisor that we wanted the issue remedied:
"Do you need a ride anyplace?"
"Nope, we'll wait for it."
Just about 90 minutes later our phone rang:
"Your car is ready. We drained the old oil and filled it with the correct amount."
It was a good thing that we changed our mind and didn't wait after all. I sure wouldn't want to be the guy stuck in the Audi lobby for an hour and a half. We are back on the road nonetheless. As you might expect, no charge for this visit either.
A couple of weeks ago Scott Jacobs and I drove our long-term 2012 Audi A8L from Santa Monica, CA to Detroit, MI and back. It was a total of 5,080 miles covering 17 states; California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico.
Along the way we drove on Route 66, ate two bbq lunches in Kansas City (Oklahoma Joe's and Arthur Bryant's), ate a bbq dinner in St. Louis (Pappy's Smokehouse), hit Las Vegas, stopped at the Mighty Mississip, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Cooter's Garage and we took a tour of Sun Studios, the birthplace of Rock and Roll in downtown, Memphis, where we also ate more bbq (Central BBQ).
During the adventure the Audi drank 12 tanks of fuel.
It averaged 23.0 mpg during the trip. Its best tank was its last. We averaged 25.1 mpg over the final 445.1 miles of the trip, which was through northwestern Arizona and California.
Ironically, the Audi's worst tank was its first. It averaged 21.0 mpg from Santa Monica out past Las Vegas.
I'll post about other aspects of the trip all week. Also, look for a huge photo gallery of the adventure on the Inside Line homepage tonight at midnight eastern time. I hope you enjoy it.
This Audi A8 has a laaaaaaarge gas tank. Audi says it will hold 23.8 gallons. Fuel mileage is respectable as well. As I reported yesterday, despite the EPA rating the A8 at 28 mpg on the highway, we averaged 23.0 mpg over the entire trip.
That gives this big sedan some serious range. As you can see in the photo above, the car's computer says it'll travel 610 miles on a newly topped off tankful.
After living in this car for seven days and 5,000 miles, I believe it. This car can easily top 600 miles per tank on the highway if the driver wants it too, and drives accordingly. If we averaged 28 mpg the Audi's 23.8 gallon tank should deliver 666 miles of range.
We didn't want it badly enough. Fact is, our bladders couldn't last that long. Also, when you're out in the middle of nowhere late at night, fuel availability can be questionable, so we would stop and fill up when we could. Better to be safe than sorry.
Still, we did have two tanks over 500 miles, with the best covering 526.8 miles. When we stopped, the Audi drank 21.707 gallons, which means there were two gallons left and we had averaged 24.3 mpg. We also had nine other tanks cover over 400 miles with six of them over 450 miles.
This Audi is like a camel.
As I promised yesterday, we've gathered up all the photos from our Ultimate Audi A8 Road Trip, which covered 5,000 miles from L.A. to Detroit and back, and we've put them together in the Ultimate Audi A8 Road Trip Photo Gallery. There's 190 images, including a few I personally consider embarrassing. Do me a favor a skip over the shot of me sleeping in the Audi's well heated, shaped and massaging passenger seat.
Which is your favorite photo?
While I'm generally a fan of new technology, sometimes I feel that some things don't need improvement. In fact what some call improvement, I call unwanted change.
That leads me to our Audi A8L's dynamic steering. According to everything I've read, the steering ratio is modified, depending on vehicle speed. It's more responsive (wheels more with less steering input) at low speeds, where it's just the opposite at highway speeds.
In theory, this sounds like a good idea. Fewer turns lock-to-lock in a parking space, is always a good thing. My problem is this weird transition zone, where the system goes from slow mode to highway mode. I found it a bit surprising (and alarming) that I couldn't confidently predict how sharp it was going to turn when at parking lot speeds.
Maybe it'll go wide. Maybe it'll turn in sharp this time and clout that concrete pillar. If there was a more gradual transition, perhaps it wouldn't bother me. Furthermore, the steering seems to get heavier at slower speeds, which is the opposite of what I'm used to.
I dropped-in a video explaining (even though there's no sound) the system. Ingenious, no doubt, but I think it still needs some fine tuning.
Audi's MMI infotainment interface has been one of my favorite systems of its kind. I prefer it to BMW's iDrive and definitely Mercedes-Benz' COMAND. But this latest iteration in our long-term A8 hasn't quite warmed me over.
First off, the placement. It's in front of the gear selector on the upslope of the center stack. At least for me, that's not ideal. I preferred it when it was directly in front of the armrest, allowing me to lazily flick the dial and buttons. The same goes for the gesture touchpad, which, as it's positioned requires you to rest your hand on the shifter.
I think Audi got it right with our departed A4 Avant. The positioning was just right, plus, there was more space between the bigger buttons. As a chronic music shuffler, the hard skip buttons were especially welcomed.
What do you think? A4 or A8?
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.
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.
This weekend I was on my way to Seal Beach with our 2012 Audi A8L when suddenly the car dinged a warning. It was telling me that it was really, really low on fuel and needed to find a gas station asap.
It even pulled up a list of the nearest gas stations on the nav. So nice! Only problem with that list is that I couldn't tell if any of them were on my route. And I wasn't familiar enough with my surroundings to know where anything was. That Chevron is 3.8 miles that way and there's a Shell 1.7 miles this other way. Um.
Not wanting to go off course I opted to just take the next exit to pull over and look for a gas station on my iPhone. OK, found one that was just a quick hop back on and off the freeway. Problem solved.
Now it should be noted that I usually try to gas up cars before they ever get to the point where they have to tell me they're low. But looking at the fuel gauge, it was difficult to tell right away that was the case as the only indication that it needed gas was one red dash. That white dash in the photo that extends from the E to the next red dash turned red. That was it. Really easy to miss that, right?
Not a big deal as I'm sure it's something the owner of an A8 could get used to but figured it was worth noting.
Another thing worth noting? How much it cost to gas up the luxury sedan. If you were curious, hit the jump.
That's for premium gas. Again, this is most likely something the owner of an A8 would get used to.
I've been in cars with ambient lighting before but never to the technological degree as our 2012 Audi A8L.Check it out. Not only can you select all the different areas of the car's interior where you want the lights, but you can select brightness in these various areas as well as "Color Profiles."
Here's a description of each color profile:
Ivory: A golden light that makes anyone look good. Very flattering. Best used on a first date.
Polar: A soft white light which isn't conducive to night vision or looking good. If you use this, best keep it really dim.
Ruby/Polar: The door panels and center console have the red light for easy nighttime adjustment but then the overhead and footwells have the white light.
What do you think, is this something you'd find useful?
There is a ton of tech in our Audi A8 L — so much that we could blog about its myriad features incessantly (as we have, and will), and so much that we had forgotten to set up the WiFi network. It's not like Audi is alone in offering an in-car WiFi router, but I love the idea of having this feature in the car, and getting it working was my first order of business.
Yet, I'm not sure it's something I'd use every day. Indeed, the Google Map data that's part of the WiFi service is cool, but since I'm usually driving, and not sitting in the backseat with an iPad using Facebook, I'm not realizing the full benefits of the WiFi.
Where WiFi really becomes useful, in my opinion, is when you're out on the road and need a signal strengthener for your smartphone or, more important, when you need to blog and don't feel like carting your laptop into Starbucks. Audi has chosen T-Mobile (aka, Deutsche Telekom) as its exclusive provider, and despite that company's so-so coverage in the U.S., it's still far better than nothing.
During the cross-country barbecue adventures of Scott and Scott, their phones were picking up the Audi's WiFi signal, but they were unable to connect. Upon their return, we realized we had spaced and forgotten to insert the SIM card, which explains this "SIM card no good" display...
Straightening out that issue was as simple as inserting the SIM card in its designated slot under the nav screen. Here you can also see the SD card ports, which are one means of transferring music to the A8's 20GB hard drive.
Although Audi's MMI system is probably the most straightforward and user-friendly of its kind, the WiFi password (which had already been entered and saved in the car before we got it), is a little bit hidden in the Telephone menu.
Here's the sequence of steps in photos (I shot these in the safety and comfort of the garage, so that's why the car has no 3G service). Probably the best thing about the process is the breadcrumbing at the top of the display — you never get lost in MMI.
Audi provides a free data plan for the first six months. It's yet to be decided who will pay the bill once that trial period is up.
OK, my bad. Turns out our 2012 Audi A8L has a distance-to-empty display on the dash. But since it was so tiny and not anywhere near the fuel gauge, I didn't notice it when I pointed out the hard-for-me-to-read fuel gauge in a previous post. Editor Scott Oldham had to tell me there was one, and he should know. He spend 5,000 miles with it.
Anyway, after diving into the owner's manual I found out that the bottom red LED light in the fuel gauge and the low fuel indicator light turn on when the fuel level drops below 4 gallons. And then that bottom LED light will start blinking red when the fuel level is VERY low.
So there you have it. Good to at least know what the A8 considers a low fuel level.
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...
And I see the dreaded N yet again and feel very annoyed.
For the $101K it costs to buy our car, I should be able to order a bespoke A8 with a manual gearbox, I feel. Better yet, throw in a diesel V6 while you're at it. I want more torque, and it's not like this V8 makes cool sounds like the one in our long-term S5 did. Or maybe it does, but I can't hear them.
A few days ago I blogged about the A8's awesome range. Well, it combined with the Audi's very comfortable heated and massaging seats to keep us on the road. We drove between 700 and 1,000 miles a day, with only one exception. The final day eastbound we slept in Fort Wayne, Indiana and drove the final two hundred miles to Detroit the following sunday morning.
The first day we left L.A. late, about 11 am. Stopped to see my parents out in Palm Springs and then drove to and slept in Richfield, Utah. Because of our late start and family obligation it was a short day at just 600 miles.
Day two we drove to Salina, Kansas. Slept there. Total miles 912.
Day Three we drove 815 miles to Ft. Wayne.
The next morning (Sunday) we were in Detroit by noon.
On Wed. we drove south from Detroit to Memphis. 800 miles.
Thursday was westbound on I-40 to Tucumcari, New Mexico, an old time Route 66 town, and home to this very cool old gas station, which serves the town as a welcome center. Total miles 840.
And then Friday it was 980 miles to Santa Monica. We were home by 11 pm.
Great car. Great trip.
Yep, seat heater AND seat cooler on at the same time. Like leather-wrapped Icy Hot.
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.
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.'
If you were going to spend over $100,000 on a car, wouldn't you want all of the nifty features you could get? I was RTMing today and made a list of the things I wish our long-term 2012 Audi A8L included.
1. Night Vision Assist. This features helps you track zombies in parking lots or so the pictures would lead me to believe. Mike Magrath wrote about the more practical uses of this feature here.
2. The full-length center console which includes a folding table. If you're going to have WiFi access, you might as well have a desk to work on, right?
3. W12 engine because 500 horsepower is better than 372 horsepower to outrun the zombiepocalypse.
The juvenile in me giggles when I hear a car has massaging seats. It seems slightly naughty to me in a way that only a Catholic school education can teach you. When you got detention for chewing gum or rolling up your sleeves or even wearing nail polish ("you bold, brazen article!") massaging seats sound almost sinful. That's a direct nun quote by the way.
Massaging seats are an innovative way to keep a driver awake on long trips. They can also provide relief on your commute home if your desk chair isn't particularly supportive. Or it can help your sore posterior after you've spent an hour at the gym.
The seats in the Audi A8L have several settings and intensity levels. Wave was my favorite. Pulse was pretty good. Stretch was subtle.
What's your take on massaging seats in a car?
I like heat. Our 2012 Audi A8L has a heated steering wheel. I'm happy.
I'll admit I didn't know our A8 had a heated steering wheel until I RTMed. I never felt it past that large switch for adjusting the position. It was a surprise find. And a good reason to always RTM.
I had our buxom A8 for the weekend because my in-laws were in town and the two coupes in our household were not going to be roomy enough for squiring the Texas Tornados around town, particularly to a festive dinner and brunch to celebrate their 28th anniversary.
On the night that we went to Sky Room, a deco-style rooftop restaurant in Long Beach, we rolled in what I've always heard called Jersey Style, meaning guys in front, girls in back. It cemented for me the fact that the A8L is really meant to be a chauffeur-driven vehicle.
It goes without saying that it's not nearly as much fun to ride in the A8 as it is to drive it, but it is a pretty luxurious perch back there. There are untold amounts of legroom, seat heaters, reading lights, nicely placed speakers, power rear privacy shades that let you "keep out natural and social elements" as the Audi brochure so delicately puts it. There's also some nice horseshoe-shaped burl wood trim on the back of the front seats upon which to meditate while James or Jane or whoever your driver is takes you to your destination. My mother-in-law and I were tempted to practice our QEII wave to the hoi polloi as we purred by.
As discussed in our intro, we didn't even spring for the full backseat package. You can see some of its elements below, as described in an Audi brochure: 10" viewing screens, worktables — everything you need to be a mobile captain of industry.
But the car's visual appeal transcends the usual class/cost/country-of-origin boundaries. One of my neighbors, the owner of a slick new orange-as-a-supernova Dodge Charger flagged us down when we were parking the A8.
"Man," he said, shaking his head and smiling. "That is a gorgeous car."
And so it is.
There's a long list of things to get excited about within the swanky confines of our impeccably crafted A8, but one of my favorite things about the cabin is its handsome, well-designed steering wheel.
I like the grip circumference of it; it's easy to wrap your fingers around yet has a chunkiness about it that conveys just how substantial this car is. The steering wheel is one part of the car that the driver is always in contact with, and with the A8, it's interpreted in a way that's a pleasure to look at and to use.
Our Audi A8 has a feature called Lane Assist. It helps the driver stay in his lane by detecting when he strays and vibrating the steering wheel to get his attention. Great for long drives when you start to get a little tired and bored.
The system uses a camera to detect lane markers such as painted lines. It only works at speeds exceeding 40 mph and when the turn signal is not activated. You can turn this feature on and off by a switch on the turn signal stalk. According to the manual, it doesn't operate so well in snow or heavy rain for obvious reasons.
In Los Angeles, despite it being against the law, people text and talk on the phone all the time. I see many offenses every day. On my way home last night I saw a distracted driver texting on the freeway and swaying over the line to his left and right. Good thing the people around him were paying attention or he could have LOL'd himself right into another car.
I'm sure this happens in many other cities not just L.A. Wouldn't it be nice if all cars had this warning system?
As Jay mentioned earlier today, I'm also a fan of a freshly cleaned windshield and I often use the washers when I get into a long-term car. (Can you tell it rained here today with two wiper posts?)
I have come to like cars that offer a gentle mist that blankets the window. Our Audi A8 is quite the opposite. It shoots a high-powered stream in several places on the window. Seems a little old-school, low-brow for a $100,000+ car. Although to its credit, it doesn't obscure the view out the glass like a full-cover spray.
How do the washers in your car work?
Here is video of the Audi A8 wipers in action:
It's no surprise that when I pull into our underground parking garage, I lose the signal to satellite radio.
In our Audi A8 I also lose the ability to control the volume. I usually lower the volume so that the next person doesn't get blasted with my show tunes when they pull out of the garage. But once I'm in the garage, I get a "Currently unavailable" message. It also does this if I try to change the station.
It's like as soon as it loses the radio signal, the car says "radio, what radio?"
Last night since I was going to an event at the chichi, members-only Soho House in West Hollywood, I signed up for our 2012 Audi A8L. After all, waiting in a valet line at such a fancy private clubhouse has gotta be the epitome of you-know-what-swinging contests and I just wanted to see what it felt like to play along for once.
But then when I was waiting for my ride to be delivered I observed the mix of Porsche Panameras and Mercedes CLSs and realized our A8 wouldn't turn anyone's head here. I suspect even if it were an R8, no one would give it a second look. Should have taken the NSX for a big swinging effect. As it was the A8 blended in nicely. Thing is, it blends in nicely in most places. Whether you opt for street parking or the mall valet. Not that that's a bad thing...unless you're the type who goes in for you-know-what-swinging contests.
Speaking of which, I'd say the car that snagged the primo spot at this valet won that contest. Hit the jump to see it.
Speaking of President's Day, my dog Mya looks very presidential in the back of the 2012 Audi A8L, don'tcha think? I had to take her to the vet this weekend in our luxury liner but somehow think the plushness of the leather seats and the rear-seat heaters were lost on her.
Many of you are probably cringing at the thought of a pit bull sitting in a fancy car like this but I'll have you know that Mya is well-behaved. When I buckle her in, she just sits/lies down, doesn't lick windows or claw at the seats.
And I know no A8 owner would use their car to transport their dogs but on the off chance that they do...
The seatbelt fasteners are buried into the seat so I couldn't really tuck in her dog blanket and buckle her in too easily.
For rear air there are vents in the back of the front center console and in the B-pillars facing the backseat but for some reason I couldn't figure out how to get air back there just by looking at the controls. Too bad for Mya our car doesn't come with rear-seat controls like the Equus which she also tested.
Just made sure to open the vents in the backseat. I didn't check to see how she'd like the seat heaters, though. I'm guessing she would have hated them.
And anyone having to wrangle a dog with her dog accoutrement and a huge purse will be grateful for the car's keyless entry.
Don't know if Mya's stress of a vet visit was eased by the comfort of the A8 but I'd like to think that it helped.
OK, yes, the soft-close feature for cars has been around for awhile now but that doesn't make it any less neat-o. I know our 2012 Audi A8L had a power soft-closing trunk but didn't realize it also had power soft-closing doors (standard in the A8L, optional in A8) until, with hands full, I tried to swing the driver door shut but then didn't use enough force. Just when I was about to reshuffle the bags I was holding and grab the door handle for a redo, the Audi slurped the door flush for me. Why thank you, A8L!
I realize this feature is old hat for those out there accustomed to driving fancy cars all the time but for me it's a novelty that I now wish was available in EVERY car.
Hit the jump for an oh-so-compelling video of this feature in action.
Driving west in the morning or driving east in the evening. That's when the sun has a tendency to wash out gauges and nav screens. In the case of our Audi A8L, it's a few gauges.
So here's the question I needed an answer for this morning: "how much gas do I have?"
Instead of using a traditional needle to indicate fuel levels, Audi opted for some segmented LEDs. That's fine at night and in most daytime conditions, but when the sun hits it, here's no telling until you get it in some shade.
Call me old-fashioned, but this is one example of, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."
Deep in non-descript California farmland territory, our Audi A8L cleared 10,000 miles yesterday. It's been less than four months (including the month car was out due to body repair), but the odo was obviously helped along when Scott and Scott drove the A8 to Detroit and back.
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.
"Hey Brent! Nice Audi A ... umm ...."
This was my friend. I had gone to visit him at his office on Saturday with the A8. He had seen me pull up from his window.
"A8L," I told him. "It's pretty fancy-pants."
My friend knows cars. So his reaction is similar to the point James made in a previous post about the A8's conservative styling and how it doesn't look much different from A4 in back.
For me, I'd agree the styling distinction between Audi's sedans is subtle. The rear, in particular, it's hard to tell what you're looking at. But at a glance it's hard to tell the latest BMW 5 Series from the 7 Series, too, so Audi's hardly alone.
A few A6 and A8 screen grabs from Audi's configurator.
I was looking at the A8 the other day trying to figure out why I find its sheet metal so appealing. Big sedans like this can run the risk of looking like old-man transportation but I never get that sense with the A8, which comes across, to my eyes, as sleek and youthful and modern.
That gargantuan grille helps — it's so clean and seamless, assertive without being too aggressive. Yeah, I think the grille is probably what seals the deal for me.
Heavy traffic is a common occurrence in any major city. In Southern California, there's no rush hour, just brief windows when it's slightly less bad.
If you care to disengage from the driving experience a bit more during times like these, just click on the A8's adaptive cruise control. Like others of its ilk, it's just not for freeway cruising — the Audi's system is fully capable of slowing and bringing the car to a stop when it detects slowing traffic ahead and then accelerate the A8 again once the car ahead starts to move. No real need to use the pedals, just steer to stay in your lane.
I used it this morning for a while. It worked just as it should, accelerating and braking smoothly based on the car ahead. That's not to say I was snoozing at the wheel. But the A8's adaptive cruise control certainly does add to the luxury flagship feel of the car.
It's too bad I can't just sit in our A8 L all day and work. It's certainly a lot more pleasant than my office chair.
Not surprisingly, the A8 has a lovely interior. But perhaps you'd like some details as to why. So I've taken some pictures of the details I like most.
First of all, I like the look of the overall dashboard and center stack design. There's a definite "cockpit" feel to it, particularly if you're resting your right hand/wrist on the gear selector. You don't experience this is many other cars.
I also really like the interior color selection of our car. The dark brown for the leather and wood trim is really attractive and certainly more interesting than if we just had the typical black.
The faux-suede door inserts are a nice addition. This isn't something you normally see in a car. The solid-feeling door release handle and the metallic speaker grilles are also nice.
I also like the extra padding used for the center stack where you knees might come in contact.
LED strip accent lighting. It's kind of hard to see in the photo, but there's a strip around the sunglass holder/map light area and then strips above the B-pillars. Classy.
OK, there is one thing I don't like. Overall, the MMI controls/switchgear aren't quite as nice as I'd like. Many of the buttons have a lightweight feel to them. That alone isn't really bad, as the quality is still there. But the silver plastic buttons on the dash and for the memory seating do feel a little cheap. They too have an overly light feel to them and wiggle around a bit when you put your finger on them. Seems out of place given the rest of the car.
Still, I really like the overall ambiance of our A8's interior.
It occured to me this morning that my opening comment is yesterday's post — "It's too bad I can't sit in our A8 L all day and work" — isn't correct. The A8's got mobile WiFi, comfortable seats, cupholders, heated rear seats, rear sunshades and a high-end sound system. Why not sit in it on my driveway and do work?
So I tried that. And yeah, it was fun for the novelty. But I was pretty limited by the A8's two bars of T-Mobile 3G connection speed. My home's WiFi wasn't much better outside. I drove around until I got five bars of T-Mobile, but at that point it seemed a little creepy to be parked in front of some stranger's house.
A big German flagship sedan is a usually a good way to impress your friends. So when my wife and I met up with another couple a few nights ago for dinner, generalized store perusing and evening away from kids, I volunteered my chauffeuring services.
The A8L was a hit. Our friends drive a Honda Element and a Toyota Sienna, so the A8 was something they don't normally get to experience. Sitting in back, they were duly impressed by the massive amounts of legroom, the comfortable leather seating and the heated rear seats. They also commented about how smooth the A8 was, yet also stable.
They were smitten. I told them all they needed was $101,575. Or friendly Audi PR people willing to loan them a car for a year.
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.
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.
I will say that the A8's manual transmission mode is a little disappointing, though. The main issue I have with it is that downshifts aren't completely rev-matched, making them a little herky-jerky. It's not a huge deal considering the A8's primary mission of luxury, but at the same time it's kind of expected, right? Also, the shift paddles are just generic plastic paddles and are incongruous to the rest of the rest of the interior in terms of quality.
$6,300 is a lot of money. That's what I'd expect to pay for a decent used car or one helluva vacation. But six-grand for a stereo upgrade? Color me skeptical.
Full disclosure: I have never been a big fan of Bang & Olufsen. In terms of design, I thought their home products were amazing feats of packaging, but the sound quality never lived up to the appearance. Also, I'm not a true audiophile or mobile electronics expert, but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.
Alright, let's start from the base stereo, which is a 14-speaker Bose system that puts out 630 watts. Our long-term A8 is packed with the $6,300 Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System with 19 speakers and 1,400 watts. I'm guessing right off the bat that the base Bose system will do just fine for the vast majority of drivers, but for the rare individual who can discern the differences, perhaps the B&O would be worth it. After all, the starting price for an A8 L is $84,700, so maybe another seven-percent added to the bottom line isn't such a big deal.
When I go about testing an audio system, I start by leveling-out the bass, treble and centering the balance and fader. Unlike the pros, I go straight to the iPhone, since I think most drivers prefer mobile devices to CDs (at least for convenience's sake). I then cue-up John Williams' Olympic Fanfare and Theme, which is my personal test track.
Wow. The brass fanfare was incredibly clear and when the trumpets take off on their own, the pop-up tweeters allow them to sing without any detectable distortion. The same holds true when the thundering tympanis bellow through the cabin, and you can feel each hit in your chest. Good stuff.I played around with the Digital Signal Processing (DSP), which allows you to alter the staging to favor all seats, rear seats or the fronts (which was my preferred setting). With my eyes closed (parked, duh) it sounded as though the sound was emanating from an arms-length away and enveloped me fully.
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 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.
I'm also a fan of the controls and displays. The main screen is tack-sharp and getting around the menus is intuitive and easy. I'd still prefer the MMI controller to be centered in front of the armrest, but this isn't a deal-breaker. The buttons and knobs have a solid feel and a positive click when pressed. I also appreciate that when you spin the wheel quickly, the display skips forward through the list so you don't have to turn for an eternity. Finding Paul McCartney among the artists menu took only about seven seconds.
After years of using Audi's click-wheel controls on the steering wheel, I'm still not sold on it. I like leaving the iPod on shuffle and skip over the songs I don't want to hear. With the A8, you have to roll the wheel down one detent then click it. I know, it's not the end of the world, but I'd rather have a standard skip button on the steering wheel. Then again, I can see how having the ability to scroll through songs while viewing the tracks on the instrument panel might appeal to some.
And let's not forget the cool factor of the pop-up tweeters on the dash. So cool, in fact, that I thought it fitting to give them their own video.
The ovoid disc atop the stalk serves to bounce the sound in a controlled spread. I have something similar to this in my Mirage Nanosat home theatre system speakers, and they're quite effective.
So there it is; a layman's take on our long-term Audi's $6,300 audio system (I just had to mention that price one more time). Is it worth it? Well, that depends on how much value you place on audio quality.
As if you needed more reason to think so, just check out how he drives around. This is how I found the Audi's HVAC set up last night after he had it over the weekend. Don't get me wrong, I'm as big a fan of dual-zone climate control as anyone. But does any couple really need a 17-degree differential between passenger and driver? My wife wears a jacket when it's 70 degrees and I've never seen her do anything this radical when it comes to temperature settings. In fact, sometimes I think my colleagues do this stuff just to test me. Well Magrath, just so you know, I'm paying attention. And you're a weirdo.
More self-defeatism after the jump.
Because when the air blowing on your hands is ice cold, you'll certainly need a heated steering wheel to keep them warm. This is nuts. And it makes about as much sense as cooling the seat back and warming the seat bottom, which, near as I can tell, is the only thing the A8 won't let you do in its seats.
This car is awesome.
I'm a big fan& of the idea that soon enough we won't even have to drive these things we call cars. A good portion of what we do now in L.A. isn't really driving anyway. Along the path to fully autonomous cars, we'll of course encounter other technologies that make our lives easier.
Like self-closing doors.
The A8 won't do the whole job for you, but it'll take up the final bit of slack should you be too tired, lazy, preoccupied or rich to do it yourself.
Remember this the next time fully closing the door on your hoopty becomes a burden. It's how the other half lives.
There's a lot going on in our A8. As proof, one needs to look no further than the multiple deployments made from the big sedan's dashboard upon starting the engine. Click through for a few deployment videos.
Perhaps you've seen the nav screen emerge from a dashboard before in an Audi or a Benz or a Cadillac. Not really anything new here. But the next one is fairly unique.
I leave the audio system on intentionally when I shut the A8 down just so I can watch the tweeters prairie dog out of their holes in the dash when I refire it.
The A8's trunk has it all: tie downs, pockets with restraint nets, grocery bag hooks, a 12-volt power point and an elastic cargo net. Also, as you'd expect in a massive sedan like this, it's huge. And flexible.
The pocket seen here — this time with its restraint net pulled down — is on the driver's side. There's another just like it on the passenger side. The cargo net stretches horizontally between four tie downs at the corners of the trunk rather than holding cargo vertically like the Camry's cargo net. I prefer this design which pins cargo to the trunk floor rather than letting it flop around in the open space at the rear of the trunk.
There are two of these bag hooks under the rear decklid.
OK, OK, I'm wrong about the A8's trunk being "huge," but I'm sticking with its practicality. Let's say it's merely "sufficient" at only 13.2 cubic feet. Relative to others in its class it is small. The Mercedes-Benz S550 offers 16.4 cubic feet and the BMW 750i offers 14.0 cubic feet.
But there is this: A space-saver spare tire. It's not a full-size spare, but it's also not an inflator kit for run-flat rubber.
Just an FYI.
Two blind-spot montioring posts in one day. You guys are so blessed! To the point, though, Josh's earlier post today on our Mazda 3's blind-spot monitoring system made me think of our Audi A8's setup. Setting aside the argument of BSM effectiveness in Los Angeles traffic for the moment, I do like the way Audi designs its BSM system.
Rather than put a little warning light in the mirror like a lot of automakers do (stock Mazda 3 photo here), Audi uses the setup pictured in my main photo, with four brighter lights mounted in the housing. I find this design suits me better as the Audi's lights are more easily seen just using peripheral vision; I barely have to shift my eyes to see if the BSM light is illuminated or not. On other cars, you pretty much have to look at the mirror to see the integrated BSM light.
The above is especially true if you position your side mirrors properly for the blind spots to begin with. In this case, the Audi BSM means you can just readily rely on the light to supplement what's going on in the mirror, allowing you to focus more on what's going on ahead of you. Maybe some people would argue they don't want to see lights so easily (preferring the subtler light-in-mirror and audio approach,) but for me its preferable.
Incidentally, our A8 is also currently set up to just flash the light if you engage the turn signal with a car in the blind spot rather than sound off an audio warning. As for a possible audio option within the MMI system, alas, I'm not currently near the A8 to check it out.
The Audi A8 comes standard with an adjustable air suspension that includes two ride height options. Unlike some other systems that automatically raise (Land Rover's low setting) or lower (Lamborghini) when you accelerate past parking lot speeds, the A8 will stick with your desired ride height.
Now, some would stick with the A8's lower setting and be done with it. Lower center of gravity, better handling, etc. I, however, chose the high setting this weekend. Why? Well, Los Angeles is filled with stupidly steep driveways, huge speed bumps and severely crowned roads for drainage. This leads to scraped chins. Now, the A8 is high enough to clear most of them, but with the raised suspension, I didn't have to worry about them at all. If anything, I think the A8 could go even higher. 2012 Audi A8L all-road has a perfect ring to it. Think about it, you can lower the suspension when blitzing down the highway at 103, then jack it up when you want to venture into some field for a ... I don't know, what does one venture into a field for? Turkey hunting? Snogging? Either way, the possibilities seem endless.
As for something practical, one accesses the suspension adjustment by pressing the Car button in the MMI button grouping, then pressing the upper left MMI knob-flanking button to activate whatever suspension setting isn't presently chosen.
(PS: I wouldn't, however, want it to do this)
From an aesthetic standpoint, radio preset buttons are usually just kinda... there. But in the A8, they actually look pretty stylish.
Just one more piece of eye candy in a cabin that's loaded with it.
There are many ways to adjust the driver seat in the new 2012 Audi A8. Besides having the usual fore and aft, up and down, and angle of the backrest, the multi-function lever allows you to personalize your seat in many ways. You can lengthen or shorten the seat cushion, raise or lower the seat belt, add or decrease lumbar support, adjust the bolsters, and of course, get a 10-minute massage.
When I signed out our A8 for the night, it was obvious that a very tall person had been driving it before me. The seat was low to the floor, far away from the steering wheel and reclining very far back. Easy enough to adjust those condition in most cars. But the Audi's seat cushion was also too long for my short legs. It was very uncomfortable and made it difficult for me to safely reach the pedals. With the multi-function lever I was able to shorten the cushion to suit my frame. And I'm sure the taller driver was happy to be able to get the extra support when he needed it.
Our Audi A8L, as you know, stickers at over $100,000 (with several option packages that put it over). It has the plush interior to match. Everyone I've had in the car has commented on the interior materials, the roominess, the solid, quality feel of every surface.
But I think the outside looks rather plain in Ice Silver Metallic. I configured a darker one on Audi's Web site. Instead of opting for black, I chose Oolong Gray Metallic and I think it shows off the details of the exterior design much better. The massive grille and fancy LED lights really stand out. It looks more like its $100K price tag.
Yesterday Donna posted about the A8's highly adjustable driver's seat. Specifically, she mentioned the seat cushion length as being highly adjustable. Well, it is. Here's a shot of the cusion in its fully retracted position.
Not bad, eh? I'd say there's a solid two inches of reach adjustment here.
More on the A8's crazy seats tomorrow.
I don't smoke. But if I did, oh boy, this would be the car. I mean, really, just look at that thing. All cast aluminum and solidly built. Nothing gives a deadly addiction a sense of purpose like lifting the lid on this baby. Nothing, I say.
Seriously, because we don't smoke in ;press cars, we've been ignoring this lovely piece of German craftsmanship — letting it roll around in the center console like a forgotten Cheerio on the floor of a minivan. Well, no longer. Those days are over.
Today is the day I begin to celebrate this coffin-like piece of beauty. Today is the day I start cycling its heavy lid, caressing its shapely form and lifting it in and out of the cup holder like a dumbell of death. Also, note its handy placement next to the cigarette lighter — perfect for conveniently serving up a nicotine-charged reaper stick anytime you desire.
This, I say, is the best ashtray made.
Our A8L has 22-way adjustable seats. That's a lot of ways. Following is a brief photographic explanation of how Audi makes controlling so many functions easier to understand.
The round knob with the tab allows the A8's driver to toggle between various menus displayed on the navigation screen. Inside each menu is an icon showing what the four-way controls on the knob do in that particular menu. It's a fairly intuitive way to explain the use of many functions. Below are pictures of every menu.
That's right, I'm blogging to you from our 2012 Audi A8L traveling 65+mph down the freeway in Northern California. Obviously I'm not driving at the same time, Editor JayKav is behind the wheel. But I just wanted to demonstrate how the Audi's wifi hot spot is working out.
Sometimes the loading times for Web pages and files/pictures lag as it's dependent on whether the car gets a strong 3G signal. Varies wildly on the stretch of I-5 from NorCal to SoCal. (Don't bother trying when it dips to 2G.) 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.
I've got the massage function going, the heated seat on high and am connected to the Interwebs. I'm in heaven. Now if only I didn't get so carsick. Erp!
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.
For this trip up north to the 24 Hours of Lemons race at Infineon Raceway, we dragged dog Mya along. She's enjoyed seat time in the 2012 Audi A8L before but never for a 800+-mile roadtrip. In any case, yes, it was all plush and cozy back there. Even during the really chilly mornings, I turned on the seat heater for her. Couldn't tell if she liked that but it made me feel good doing something for her.
The only real issue was the fact that we STILL couldn't figure out how to make air come out of the rear-seat vents. The B-pillar vents work just fine, but no luck with the vents tucked behind the front-seat's center armrest.
For what the owner's manual says about it, hit the jump.
OK, it says this.
But doesn't give you that option on the screen.
What gives? And as I said in the previous doggy post, there aren't any controls in the rear seat's center armrest or near the vents. Anyone have an idea how to get air back there? As it was we just aimed the vents on the dash Mya's way.
During the 24 Hours of Lemons race up in Infineon Raceway this past weekend, I spent a majority of my time in the backseat of our 2012 Audi A8L (with my dog Mya). On Saturday when it was raining buckets and the temperature was in the 50s, the Audi proved to be a welcome haven with its heated, plush seats and quiet cabin.
I initially tried sticking it out in the back of Team Eyesore's box truck but since I hadn't planned for the weather and wasn't dressed warmly enough, I couldn't take it. (I'm a cold-weather wimp.) So retreated to the backseat of the Audi. Sinking into the plush backseat I was able to take advantage of the Audi's wifi (yay!), blast on the seat heater and put up the sunshades so I could get some peace from the chaos of the paddock. It was niiiice.
The only thing is that it sorta made me nervous to have a car as fancy as the A8 around these Lemon racecars and rag-tag racers. Folks leaving jack stands everywhere, as well as shredded bits of metal ("We might need that for later") lying about. I kept worrying about people tracking mud into the car and about how long our A8 was out of commission for a couple of scratches.
Fortunately nothing happened, though, and the Audi was the belle of the ball with grown men fighting to get a ride in it, oohing over its soft-close features, and having their minds blown over all the space and quality leather inside. And I didn't even get to show them the massage feature.
It definitely was a nice change of pace hanging out in a luxury sedan rather than the trucks and SUVs we had for past Lemons races. I'm hoping this is how we're going to roll to Lemons from now on.
This morning as I was driving to work it occured to me how striking these buttons are. Yes, that thought actually crossed my mind. They're buttons. Not a steering wheel. Not a shifter. Not a seat.
They look and feel like they're made of aluminum. They're elegant, purposeful, embossed and provide a sense of symmetry to the dash. They're even satisfying to push. So the only question, then, is...
Are they really aluminum?
Since a couple of teammates wanted to ride in our 2012 Audi A8L when we were driving back to our hotel after Day One of the 24 Hours of Lemons race, I jumped in another car, a Mazda 3. We followed the A8 through the pits and the Valentine radar detector in our car just started going crazy. It wasn't pointing at the Audi but rather bouncing all over the place. Finally, after following the A8 on Highway 37 with all the beeping and lights, the driver couldn't take it anymore and shut it off.
Yup, that was all thanks to the Audi's Side Assist which sends out radar signals at speeds over 18 mph. Now I understand why that speeding Explorer we encountered on I-5 on the way home suddenly slowed wayyy down when we approached even though no CHPs were around. "He must have a radar detector," editor JayKav, who was driving, said.
I like to play a little game when I get into a long-term car. I try to guess who was driving it before me. I'm easy to guess because I leave the satellite radio station tuned to the Broadway channel.
When the seat is really far back, my choices narrow to Dan, Ed or James, the over-six-feeters. A certain former employee always brought the car back on fumes, a big no-no around here, so he was an easy guess.
Last night, the seat was further back than I would have it and the seat cushion was extended for longer legs. But my real clue was the radio. I can always tell when I get in a car after Josh because he likes the Pearl Jam station.
And p.s. after driving the Audi A8 last night, I would add it to my Mega Millions list.
So, t'other day I was driving in our Long Term 2012 Audi A8L when I noticed a small feature that was incredibly irritating. I stopped, took some photos of the offending piece of equipment and then returned to driving this otherwise spectacular sedan.
Then I got home, looked at the pictures and thought to myself, "You know, I might be the only person in the world who's irritated by this." So I ditched that idea and went with something else. And then I read this quote by cr_driver in Josh's "Magrath is a Weirdo" blog, "Like this is news Josh! LOL The little baby girl of IL that has a reputation of whining about everything is Magrath."
On that note....
With the "auto" function off on our A8, turning the temperature up or down results in a change in fan speed — I can't live with that. If I wanted the fan to go faster, I'd turn the fan to one of the 900 other settings. I don't. What I want is the temperature of the air to rise or fall. Think the difference between being in a house with radiators and one with a central heating fan. Or the difference between being in a smoky room and having someone blow smoke directly into your face.
I'm fully aware that by keeping the fan speed lower the car will not get cool as quickly. I'm okay with that. I'm not okay with cars telling me how I want things AFTER I've already turned off the automatic features.
Maybe cr_driver's right, but I like what I like, and I do not like this.
Over the past couple of days I spent some time with our 2012 Audi A8L. I learned something. These pedals are too close together for my tastes.
I can see the benefit of placing the gas and brake close together when there is a 3rd pedal involved, but not in an automatic. See, I tend to brake with little more than my big toe on the pedal. When the brake is first depressed there is no issue. As the pedal lowers and becomes flush with the accelerator, the outside of my foot make makes contact.
Audis have a brake override, so even with my foot pressing both pedals the car stopped. With practice I was able to retrain my wide soles to manage the close quarters. So this situation only arose a handful of times. Still, it made what should be seamless somewhat awkward.
Taking our longterm 2012 Audi A8L up to Sonoma for my LeMons race a couple weekends ago was a big change. I usually take a truck or, lately, something less, well, grand.
You might not be stunned to read that the A8L is supremely well-suited for long-distance driving. Or maybe you are. In any case, it's a genuine mile-eater. It's quiet, and feels totally unflustered by high speeds.
But it's not some smothery cushmobile. Its ride is actually quite well-snubbed, meaning it acknowledges bumps and simply dispatches them. No float here, so the A8L feels sure-footed and stable at high speeds. It makes 100+ seem like 40. The variable-ratio steering that find bizarre at parking lot speeds really comes into its own on the open road, too.
Plus, 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.
Will compile the roadtrip fuel economy in a followup post.
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.
What do you do when your cabinet maker's car breaks down and you have the key to our long-term 2012 Audi A8L? Well, if you're me, you pull off the doors needing attention, load them into the car and deliver them to his shop. My impromptu trip opened my eyes to the spatial limitations of the A8's trunk.
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 2012 Toyota Camry to confirm my suspicion. The Camry holds 15.4 cubic feet of space in its trunk. So anyone cross shopping the Camry and A8L should take note.
Anyway, these pantry doors weren't going to fit in the trunk of either car without lowering the seatbacks. And I didn't really want to do that. Thankfully, the width of the Audi's rear seating area made for a perfect fit.
If you're wondering about what it's like to drive the 2012 Audi A8L, try flying first class. (The irony being that far more people fly first class than ever get to drive an Audi A8.)
And we're not talking some kind of austere business-class ride where bad champagne comes in a plastic glass. We're talking full-on wine glasses and table linen, multi-adjustable seat with leather upholstery, and an entertainment center where you can track your flight across a Google Earth map. You know, like you were in the top deck of the Clipper Ingolstadt, flying in a Boeing 747 during the great days of Pan American Airways.
It's an exhilarating feeling at speed, but when you're in traffic, I have to say it's a little bit like trying to taxi a 747 into the parking lot of a mini-mall to pick up your dry cleaning.
This is a big car, and you particularly notice that it's a big car if you've been driving small, snappy cars for a couple weeks like I have. You have to stretch your imagination a little further to keep track of the distant corners of very expensive aluminum. (Just how expensive, Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager, can tell you after recent repairs to the A8's sheetmetal.)
In fact, almost everyone initially sets up the A8's chassis a little tighter than it needs to be on the rough concrete freeways of L.A., just because the tauter damping and steering enhance the feeling of control. Once you settle in, though, you dial the settings to comfort, which is where they belong during commute hour.
Sure, it's great to be on the top deck of a real transcontinental machine, but there are times when you feel like you're two stories above the terminal ramp and you wish there were someone with orange paddles on the ground below to guide you into the gate.
A television station in Sacramento wanted someone to talk about yo-yo financing and spot delivery scams and I was tapped to be the Edmunds spokesperson. We arranged to do the interview remotely, from the KCBS newsroom at the CBS Studio Center in Studio City, not far from Edmunds HQ. My colleagues, PR man extraordinaire Aaron Lewis and consumer advice editor Ron Montoya, joined me for the visit. How often do you get to check out a big-league TV newsroom? We thought the A8 would be the perfect for our mini-entourage.
Ron was the driver. I took shotgun and dialed up the nav screen — once I remembered how to get to it. Ron tried out the system's write-it-yourself touchpad interface and found that the character recognition worked fine, despite the fact that he's a southpaw and was using his right hand. Aaron sprawled in the backseat and ran me through a mock interview as we drove.
Twenty ridiculously comfortable minutes later, a guard waved us through the gate at CBS Studio Center. It's a city unto itself: a 40-acre site with eighteen sound stages, exterior locations and three permanent sets: a residential street, a reproduction corner of Central Park and this New York City street.
On our way to the Broadcast Center, we took a left on Gilligan's Island Road and passed by Mary Tyler Moore and Gunsmoke avenues. (I would have liked to take a side trip down My Three Sons Street, but there wasn't time. Ditto for visits to Elaine's Beauty Salon and Carla's Cafe.)
Before my interview, we took a minute for Ron to snap the image of the A8 on the top of a parking structure. We couldn't wait for golden hour, but it's a nice glamour shot nonetheless. Where do you like to pose your car to capture its unique star quality?
Many LA sports fans are missing the Zen Master about now. I'm not sure the A8 is the right ride for those seeking clarity and empty mind, though. This thing has button upon button, engraved and etched with both hieroglyphics and familiar icons. You don't casually ease this car on the road without first studying the wiper stalk. If you do, you risk being that guy, like me, flashing the A8's high beams randomly while trying to set the cruise control.
Seems like the higher you climb into the rarified air of these luxe-bruisers, the more a computer science degree comes in handy. Or a couple of advance hours with the manual and some abridged notes. As performance benchmarks approach parity at this level, toys and features become one of the few ways to stand out.
I doubt the Zen Master spends too much time dialing in his adaptive suspension settings. I imagine he simply does what the A8 is over-equipped for: finding an open lane and standing on the throttle. Stable and strapped to the road at speed, the A8 offers an ideal environment to ponder this koan:
what is the sound of a leaky defense allowing a group of streaky jump-shooters into the paint for bucket after bucket after bucket?
(Stop calling for Mike Brown's head, Lakers Fan. You know this is true).
Study up. Lotta buttons to learn.
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.
Occasionally when driving our A8 I think back to our 2009 BMW 750i. Same type of car — premium large luxury sedan — but I never really warmed up to our 750i. In contrast, I really enjoy driving our A8. I prefer its interior design to the 7's, no question. (And for this class of car, that certainly counts for a lot.) Neither car really floats my boat exterior styling-wise, but I'd still pick the A8 over the BMW for this quality. And there's probably some love-of-the-underdog going on here, too. The 7 and the S-Class are so popular, I like driving the more rare A8 around.
The 750i handled better around corners. But that's about the only thing I truly liked more about it. A8L for me, please.
The odd thing about driving a car like our A8L is that I always feel a little out of place in it. Clothing wise, that is. Typically I'm wearing shorts and a T-shirt. That just doesn't seem right. Well, maybe it would be OK in Silicon Valley. Expected, even. But normally the driver would look professional, just like the car.
As chance would have it, I had to wear a suit a few days ago. I also drove the A8. I thought I'd feel more comfortable this way, tricking myself (or others) that I actually owned the car. Didn't happen. I just felt like a limo driver. But if I was dreaming, I could at least be like Jason Statham as the Transporter.
I'm at the car wash watching other people clean up our A8L. Another patron comes up to me. Middle aged guy, not particularly remarkable. He's wearing jeans and a frumpy shirt. "That your A8?" he asks. Always a tricky question to answer.
I tell him yes, but it's actually a test vehicle for Edmunds.com. He seems interested. He's got a black Mercedes E550 being wiped up a couple cars back from the A8. He starts telling me how he wants to sell the 550 for something else, but that the Mercedes dealership is giving him a runaround on a new one. Says maybe he should get an Audi instead. I tell him the A8 is pretty nice.
He wants to know about it, so I give him a few tidbits. "How much is it?" he then asks. Well, our car is $101,000, I tell him, but it depends on what you get and the options. He doesn't seem fazed. I break out my iPhone and show him the Edmunds app. (He's never heard of Edmunds.) We look at base and option pricing. He still seems interested. Mostly, I think, he likes the styling, though. Says it's "racy." He thanks me and says he's going to go to the Audi dealership today to check it out.
We chat a little more. I ask him what he does for work. "Oh, I don't work," he says. Ah. Well, there's your 1 percent for you.
The Audi is all clean and I'm on my way. Perhaps Audi will be getting some extra business thanks to our long-termer.
I took our A8L in for its 15,000 mile service to Michael Automotive Audi in Fresno, CA (where I live). I met up with the service advisor and he took our car's information. The owner's manual lists the 15K as a major service. Besides the oil change, it includes a cabin air filter change, a host of inspections (battery, belts, lights, brakes, axles, etc) and a road test. The total came to a not insubstantial $476.32 (including a $25 tire rotation, which I opted for).
The labor portion of that was $331.20. Audi does offer an Audi Care prepaid maintenance program — which we don't have — that for $1,000 (A8) covers the first four services after the initial 5K service. Seems like a better deal.
I certainly can't complain about the service treatment, though. The service advisor (he actually rememebered me from a Jetta service I did here almost a year ago) was very courteous and said he needed to keep the car for a few hours. I was prepared to take the shuttle and somehow find a ride back later on when the car was done. But when the advisor learned his shuttle had just left, he offered me a loaner A4 to take. First time I've ever gotten that for basically an oil change. They also washed and detailed the A8 for me.
Remember that you can read and write reviews of dealerships on Edmunds.com.
That working here doesn't suck. The A5 and A6 only visited for a couple of weeks. That's our Big Bessie on the right.
Although former BMW Guy is now Audi Guy — faux hawk, gold aviators and too-tight Ed Hardy t-shirt riding bumper in rush hour — and has soured my impression of the brand, something about that A5 is still money. Not in white necessarily. Also needs the S5's dual exhaust and blacked-out diffuser. Or maybe it just needs to be the S5.
Saving for the Pinterest IPO...
LOS ANGLES — The LAPD reported finding a dead windshield on Friday afternoon. Responding to a 911 call at 2012 Inside Line Audi A8L Lane, police found the windshield unresponsive. Official cause of death is said to be blunt trauma.
The only witness, a man later identified as Brent Romans, claims to have seen the assailant.
"I was just there minding my own business driving on I5 near Bakersfield when this rock jumped out of nowhere and attacked the windshield. Poor guy. It was like, bam! Then it was over. The rock took off before I could follow it. I could tell that the windshield was in bad shape. I thought about calling Safelite but within the hour the windshield was hemorrhaging cracks all over. I knew it was going to die. The sad thing is I don't know what the windshield did to deserve it. It seemed so nice."
Police are asking motorists to be on the lookout for a rock described as brown in color and about .75 inch in diameter. It is considered very dangerous. If spotted, the LAPD says to call 911 immediately.
The windshield was eight months old. Donations to the Inside Line A8L repair budget are currently being accepted.
— AP Wire
The automatic opening trunk lid of our A8L has stopped functioning. Pull on the rear trunk release, push the key fob button or lift up on the interior button release — none of these work. The only way to retrieve your goods is the old-fashioned way. Yes, a key, which is stowed in the fob.
Unfortunately, this happened just after we were at the dealer for the 15,000-mile service. (It would seem trunk operation was not one of the items on the checklist.) Of course, I didn't notice it until it was too late, either.
Update: Commenter phennighausen made a good point in that the trunk might not be opening because the MMI valet mode is activated.
I'll check on this and update as soon as a I can.
We've since confirmed that this is indeed the case. Valet mode was on, is now off. Trunk is fine. I get the dunce cap for the day.
My bad for not telling Brent that it in fact WAS the Valet Mode left on that made our 2012 Audi A8's trunk release buttons, etc. unresponsive, as commenter Phennighausen suggested in Brent's post.
On Friday when Brent sent out an email to me (this weekend's driver of the A8) and Vehicle Testing Manager Mike Schmidt about it, Schmidt suggested I check the Valet Mode button. Sure enough it was lit up just so. After turning that off, the trunk release is functioning normally...and I neglected to tell Brent.
However, another issue seems to have popped up with our Audi: the function where the mirrors fold in automatically when you park is glitchy. Once upon a time when you kept the knob in the "fold mirrors" position, every time you parked and shut the car off the mirrors would tuck in, reminding me of a bird tucking in its wings while it settles in. But now, even with the knob in that position, I have to manually switch the knob around for the mirrors to react. And then when I go to start the car and flip the switch back to unfold the mirrors, most times it doesn't respond right away. Phennighausen, any ideas?
Good news, future Audi owners. Wireless communication manufacturer Sierra Wireless announced today that Audi is working on bringing 4G LTE connectivity to its infotainment system for future models. It's all still in the development and testing stage with drive tests having started late last year, and it has already been showcased at industry events like January's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. But for those who like to stay plugged in while on the road (or blog at 70 mph) this news is exciting. Sure, not as exciting as making the whole world one big wifi hotspot or putting up more cell phone towers on the I-5 aka "Dead Zone," but still a step in the right direction.
Yes, I just made a Harry Potter reference.
I live on a dark, curving street. Even the street lamps don't do much to illuminate the block at night. But check out the strength of the Audi A8's headlights. Our long-term car has the LED package which was a $1,600 option. The low beams, daytime running lights, high beams and turn signals all use LED lighting. According to Audi, they consume only 40 watts of power.
(For all of you geeks out there, 40 watts equals 0.053640884 horsepower. That's your superfluous fun fact of the day.)
The Audi's LEDs give a nice clean bright luminosity to my otherwise shadowy block. I hope I didn't disturb my neighbors as I drove down the street last night. Oh wait, I forgot. I do hope I disturbed the neighbors with the Audi's headlights. They deserve it. Now, if only Quietus worked as well as Lumos.
Back in March, I posted my impressions of the $6,300 Bang & Olufsen audio option in our long-term A8. In a nutshell, I thought it sounded great, but I didn't have any reference as to how great compared to the base Bose system. Until last night...
We have a short-term A8 L in the lot right now, so I decided to give it the old apples-to-expensive-apples treatment. I'll admit, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to tell the difference, but that fear was shelved in a few seconds.
There's an obvious difference between the two. The bass is weak in the base system and it also lacks the clarity in the highs that the B&O system delivers. Using the same tracks in both cars, the screaming highs simply fell apart with the Bose. Now, don't get me wrong, it wasn't some crackly mess that I would've heard in some econobox; not at all. But there IS a difference and you don't have to be an audiophile to pick up on it.
The big question, of course, is, "Is it worth $6,300?"
Honestly, if you're already throwing down $84,700 for the car, kicking it to $91,000 wouldn't bother me. Then again, I'm a fiscal idiot. You know what they say about a fool and his money? Yeah, that's me.
It was time for our longterm 2012 Audi A8L's windshield to be replaced.
The transaction was smooth and quick — we gave the dealer a heads up on Monday, so they ordered the part(s). We dropped the luxoship off yesterday and it was ready for pickup later the same day.
Parts were $580, labor $200.
We may not have apprehended the nefarious and rugged offender, but at least the victim was put to rest with dignity intact.
This weekend I took our 2012 Audi A8L up to Paso Robles, which is over 200 miles away from Edmunds HQ in Santa Monica. For such road trips, I'm usually the passenger so this was a rare moment when I actually got to experience what the A8L felt like for a driver over that many miles. And, you probably saw this coming, but I am a huuge fan of its plushness, peaceful cabin, seat massagers and smooth and quiet power.
Only thing is these same great elements also conspire to induce the dreaded highway hypnosis, especially on monotonous Highway 46 east. Add in adaptive cruise control and it becomes very difficult to stay focused on the task at hand during hundreds of miles. Because what's to stop you from hitching your wagon to another driver and let them do all the "concentrating"?
In an effort to stay awake, in addition to drinking a latte with an extra shot, I avoided using the cruise control and seat massagers during the boring stretches and blasted on the tunes. Barely worked. Sigh, road trips alone are not fun.
Our long-term Audi A8 L is equipped with the 372-horsepower 4.2-liter V8. Base price: $85,575.
Audi has now released pricing on the 333-hp 2013 A8 L 3.0T. Base price: $79,395.
Would you still spend $6,200 more for the current V8?
While I was driving the 2012 Audi A8L back from Paso Robles this weekend, during one of the rare moments when I actually used the adaptive cruise control, the above message popped up and shut off the cruise. When I pressed the button to resume the cruising speed, this message just appeared again. Eventually it cleared up on its own and I was able to engage ACC again. But then many miles later it popped up and turned off cruise again.
By the time I returned home, the car's cruise was working fine. But I wonder what could have caused the issue in the first place. Maybe something flew in front of the sensor? Any ideas?
By the way, for those who don't know what a braking guard is, it's a safety function that alerts the driver of the risk of a collision. First, it emits a warning tone and then issues a warning jolt like a wake-up shake. Thing is, the brake guard stays on even when you're not using ACC. So whatever caused the above warning turned both off.
With any car that passes through the fleet here, I ultimately wonder if it's a car I'd buy myself. Some answers are immediate, others come slowly. More importantly, I wonder if it's a car I'd keep long.
I bought my Cherokee new in April 2001. At the time, I remember thinking I'd try to keep it 10 years. I don't know why I picked 10, but it sounded like a good way to maximize the investment. Pay it off in five years, then get five years free. Eleven years and 158,000 miles later, I still have it. It's showing its age.
The Audi A8 doesn't feel like a car you keep for a decade. It feels like a car you lease for three years, or trade within five or six. Mostly it's because of all the electro-motive gadgets. Everything is motorized in here: the display, window shades, massaging seats, power folding mirrors, steering column. It's all great and fancy and feels like what you expect from $100,000.
But the A8 will be a pain in the ass in 10 years when all those little motors start breaking down. Maybe the powertrain and chassis remain solid after a decade and close to 200,000 miles (I realize it's an Audi, but suspend your disbelief for a minute). That's probably the most important thing. But I'd still be cheesed as one component after another on this car started to fail.
Eventually you'd just stop fixing things. The screen would remain stuck in place, you'd reach over your shoulder to raise the window shades, and you'd end up clipping your mirrors in a tight parking garage.
Finally you could just give up and rally-prep it.
Shuttled the Wife and Kid to the airport this morning in the A8L, and loading the luggage was a tighter fit than I anticipated. The empty trunk seemed suitably cavernous when I peered in there a few days ago, but it only just swallowed one of the suitcases and two boxes full of gifts. Not unreasonable of course, but behind the wheel of this car you sometimes get the impression it could carry enough kegs for a Homecoming weekend frat bender.
Did appreciate the disappearing gooseneck hinges, though. And no, there wasn't enough clearance to stand the case on its side. Tried.
The long wheelbase came in handy, as a second, slightly smaller suitcase slotted right in the gap between the rear seat and front passenger seatback, leaving room for a couple of carry-on bags next to the Kid in her car seat. Would've been a real puzzle with another traveler/passenger, and a reminder that this big cruiser - despite its size and length isn't the low-slung SUV you might imagine.
"Hey Mike, I have some family coming this week and I'll be playing tour guide. Could I get one of our big and fancy cars?"
This was my request to Master of Keys Mike Schmidt and he was kind enough to sign me out for the biggest and fanciest of our cars. As a fancy car, it has certainly not disappointed. As a big car, though ...
Obviously the back seat is enormous, but to be truthful, it's overkill for my aunt and cousin who are both under 5-foot-7. Surprisingly, the trunk is actually not that enormous and I was surprised that my cousin's huge suitcase just barely fit lengthwise (the seat also doesn't fold flat). Had we had the A8 two years ago when I drove with three others to Vancouver for the Olympics, the trunk would not have been enough despite being the hands-down choice given its cabin space, all-wheel drive and the fact it's an A8.
And then there's the matter of driving such an enormous car. When I drove another A8 recently down to San Diego for the weekend, it couldn't have been better over a few hundred miles of open-road driving. This weekend, however, it's been a giant pain in the butt as I've been crisscrossing Los Angeles city streets, maneuvering through tight parking lots and finding street parking spots big enough to house the SS Audi. I couldn't imagine driving this car every day in the city and I really couldn't imagine doing it without the backup camera and front parking sensors — when a car is this long you need to be as far in as possible. At least its suspension can raise the car to prevent scraping against the sort of abrupt angles found in many parking garages. I've practically been in high rider mode all week.
So in retrospect, I guess I should've just made sure I didn't get the FR-S, Wrangler or MiEV.
Perhaps my biggest beef with Audi's MMI over the years has been the lack of traditional radio preset buttons. If I want preset 3, I want to press a button labeled 3. I don't want to click radio, then press the upper left button for presets, then twirl a knob to 3 and then click the knob. Similarly, I don't want to spin the little roller on the steering wheel until I get to presets, then click the roller, then spin it until I get to 3 then click. Simplicity, please.
As such, I greatly appreciate the next-generation MMI.
It features little preset numbers on the touch-sensitive pad that is otherwise most famous for allowing you to "write" letters and numbers into the nav system. I press 3 and I get 3. Sure, I can't do it without looking, but it's better than nothing.
I also appreciate that Audi has improved the steering wheel controls, with the addition of left-right menu buttons. Unfortunately, the audio controls still default back to scrolling through each radio station of the mode you were last in (FM, AM or Sirius) when you spin the roller rather than sticking with the presets menu you were in when you shut off the car. I'm not sure why it does that, but I wish it wouldn't. I want channel 3, not 33, thank you.
I guess you can't have everything.
Remember when you were a kid and your dad taught you if you forget which way was left then to just hold out your hands palms down? The one that formed an "L" with the index finger and thumb indicated your left hand. I find myself having to do something like that when changing the radio station in our 2012 Audi A8L. Except instead of holding out my left hand, I remind myself which direction to scroll by just going against my instinct.
For example, if I want to go from the '80s Sirius station to the '90s, even though many cars I've been in go from left to right (down to up), the A8L requires that I scroll left. "Just do the opposite of what you want to do," I tell myself.
But another editor I asked made sense of this non-intuitive scrolling by saying that, if you're right handed, the direction your thumb scrolls shows whether you're scrolling up or down. Blargh.
Granted, this isn't just in the Audi A8L but in all Audis. Still. Why?
So this what you get in a six figure luxury sedan. That's right, wood trim on the seat back.
A nice touch? Or simply out of place? I'm not sure. I noticed it while sitting in the back seat admiring the furnishings and thought it looked odd at first. I mean, why do you need trim on the back of the front seat?
Of course, you don't, but Audi figured it classed things up a bit. I can't think of another car that has this, but I checked the Rolls-Royce Phantom and noted that it doesn't include any such trim. Neither does the Mercedes S600, although its fold out trays are made of wood.
As you can see our A8 has seat heaters for the rear seat passengers. Amenities like this used to qualify a car for ultra-luxury status, but not anymore.
It got me thinking, what does the A8 need in back to seem special to the average person these days?
Does it need extendable foot rests? (They're available for a substantial price)
Dimmable side glass? (This would be instead of its current power sunshades)
Direct TV? A completely translucent roof? What's left? What's left to be invented?
Wow. Now that's a door.
Everything about it is so wonderfully big and heavy and rich. Solid. And that imitation suede insert just south of the wood panel is pretty soft to the touch.
Last weekend it was a rafting trip to northern California in the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8. This weekend it's a road trip to Monterey in the Audi A8L for MotoGP at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Four of us are leaving tonight. The car is washed and ready to go. Can't wait.
And unlike with the GC SRT8, I have no pre-trip reservations about the Audi A8L.
The A8's ride is considerably softer than the GC SRT8's, and the rear seat area of the "L" is gigantic. This might be one of those rare cars where the rear seat is a better place to spend time than the front. We'll see.
The front-seat passenger will have lots of "techery" to fiddle with and I'm looking forward to my own personal massage. From the seat.
So, who is joining me at MotoGP this weekend? There's nothing quite like seeing/hearing a race in person.
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.
Trunk was just right for four people over a three-day weekend, including our larger-than-needed cooler.
Because we left late on Thursday night, we stayed in San Luis Obispo. Which meant breakfast in Morro Bay. Hence the Morro Rock, below.
On the Pacific Coast Highway we took a break to stop at this gallery/cafe, below.
This is the view (below) from the outdoor lounge of the Post Ranch Inn, where we stopped to have a drink in Big Sur. Except me, of course.
I don't want to say me and Yamaha's Ben Spies are best buds, but, yeah, we're best buds, as this pre-race photo of us hanging out in his motor home clearly shows. Apparently my suggestion that he try to take the Corkscrew flat-out during the race proved too hard on the bike's swingarm...
There's also a shocking similarity between us, don't you think? Must be how close we are in size...
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.
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|
|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|
|Front track (inches)||64.7||61.4|
|Rear track (inches)||64.4||61.8|
|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|
When I exit the Audi A8, it lifts the steering wheel to make it easier for me to get out. And usually when I get back in, it lowers it back into place.
But not always. I was wondering if I was doing something differently each time. Maybe I pressed the unlock button once instead of twice. Or twice instead of once. I haven't changed any personal settings so I don't know what's up with it.
I really like the actual trip mileage that shows up on the Audi's IP, letting you know how many miles you've traveled since starting the engine, without having to reset the official trip odometer.
Today the little sub-odometer finally answered a question I've been meaning to calculate ever since we moved to our new house: Exactly how many miles is it from my driveway to our office parking garage?
Answer: 36.2 miles.
I refuse to consider the amount of time it takes to cover those 36 miles, which usually falls somewhere between 70-90 minutes.
Welcome to So Cal, folks.
640,000 Los Angeles Unified School District students went back to school this morning.
That kind of early morning action wreaks havoc on the "summer light" traffic patterns.
Since I spent twice as long as usual sitting on the freeway, I was especially grateful for the comfort of our luxurious Audi A8.
Matter of fact, maybe I'll just hang onto the Audi until around mid-November. It usually takes that long for the back-to-school driving chaos to normalize.
This morning I came a little too close to spilling a cup of coffee in the A8's center console. The cup didn't fit well in the Audi's smallish cupholders, and when I hit the brakes, it tipped forward.
Lucky for me, there wasn't much coffee left in the cup, and therefore, no actual mess was made. But I got that cup outta there asap, didn't wait to take a pic first.
It got me thinking, though. What's the worst thing you've ever spilled in your car?
When the Jaguar XF joined our fleet, I was certain it would be a shoo-in to replace the A8 as my favorite luxury sedan in our lineup (and yes, I know the two models aren't direct competitors).
But it hasn't turned out that way.
While the Jag is more nimble and energetic than the larger A8, it has nothing on the Audi when it comes to sheer opulence. Not the gimmicky opulence that has to do with shiny parts rising up to greet you when you start the engine; I'm talking about the kind of luxury that comes from impeccable materials quality and solid craftsmanship.
Speaking of solid, I also like the tank-like way in which the A8 covers pavement — so substantial and assured. The XF scores great marks for being eager and engaging, but I love luxury, and on that front, it's still the A8 for me.
Turns out we're not the only ones impressed with the flat-out, all-around goodness offered by the Audi A8. Those fancy leathers and woods will get you every time.
A new quality study — the 2012 Strategic Vision Total Quality Index — has the A8 ranked ahead of all others in the luxury segment. Rankings were calculated based on feedback from 45,390 buyers who bought 2012 models from September to December 2011.
More on this, plus a look at other segment winners, here.
Photo by Scott Jacobs
August sales were kind of meh for the A8; with 470 units sold, the model showed a mediocre 0.4 percent increase year-over-year. Across all models, though, the manufacturer reported its highest August sales ever. With 11,527 in total new-vehicle sales, Audi's performance last month represents a 13 percent increase over the record set in August of 2011.
- August 2012 ranks as the best August in Audi of America history.
- Audi A4 sales up 21.5% compared to August 2011; YTD sales grew 6.3% compared to previous period.
- Audi A5 sales up 26.9% compared to August 2011; YTD sales grew 9.1% compared to previous period.
- Sales of Audi A6 increased 58.6% compared to August 2011; YTD sales up 112.3% compared to previous period.
- Sales mix for Audi TDI clean diesel models finish the month at 56.2% for the A3 TDI and 19.2% for Q7 TDI.
- For the record-setting month of August 2012, four Audi models recorded year-over-year sales increases of 20% or more, including the Audi A4, the Audi A5, the Audi A6 and the Q7 models.
- Audi Certified pre-owned sales set an all-time record of 3,366 vehicles sold, amounting to the best August in Audi history, despite the reduced inventory of available models for the program.
We have about a month to go in our 12 month test of this 2012 Audi A8, and early this morning it crossed the 20,000 mile mark.
Unscheduled repairs or maintenance up to this point have been zero. The A8, which has an MSRP of over $101,000, has been dead reliable.
Our Audi is a bit of a diva, swanning about in grand style and demanding extra room to accommodate her imposing dimensions.
I took La Audi to Bristol Farms yesterday afternoon and the thought of shopping carts and door dings put me into a cold sweat. I parked her far, far away. And brought her some macarons. Chocolate ones, to match the interior.
Our Audi A8L has been in the fleet almost a year. It only makes sense to progress to the next step by getting an S8 next. That's my thinking, anyway. Are you listening Audi?
I happened to catch this new-ish "Suspect" S8 ad last night while watching football. Hence the inspiration. Oh, and now I want to watch Ronin and Heat again, too.
It's not easy being the most luxurious car in the Edmunds fleet, and maybe the strain is beginning to get to the A8. After its most recent trip to the car wash, I noticed a bit of loose, dangling rubber on our luxo-barge's driver-side door. A cry for help? Perhaps. In any case, it's definitely not a good look.
Was it a simple problem to fix? Click after the jump for the riveting details.
As it turns out, though the rubber looked like it had become unglued somehow, all it took was a gentle nudge to take it from this...
Looks like it should stay put, too. Now we can continue to practice safe door opening and closing. Thank goodness for rubber.
It never fails. Whenever I get in either an Audi or Porsche (I know, poor me and my first-world problems) and connect my iPhone, it selects my "Chill" playlist. Rather than pickup on the song I last listened to, or even going to the top of my music library, it starts in with La Mujer di Mi Hermano Theme.
Riswick ridicules my modern electronic music, saying that it sounds like the stuff the German auto makers play before every press unveiling. Perhaps it's just the German cars trying to recreate that uber-cool vibe?
Magrath has the same issue. It plays one of his playlists every time, too. I'm guessing it's whatever playlist is on top alphabetically, since "Chill" is on top of my list. In any case, it's not a big deal. It's not like I hate that playlist, but if any of you have the same issue and know a fix, let me know. You'll earn my undying respect for at least a few days.
Oh yes, just when you thought you were safe from my ramblings on seat heaters, autumn has arrived. Mwah-ha-ha.
It's still sunny and warm during the day in L.A. but the nights are getting a bit nippy. The seat heaters in our Audi A8L get very hot on level 3. They dial themselves back down to 2 after a little while, leaving a nice glowing warmth.
They will automatically come on when you start the car again. So, when you share a car like we do, I need to remember to turn them off.
I love the fall.
As you might have imagined, you don't have to be sitting in the back seat to benefit from the rear sunshades featured in our A8.
They've done a great job of keeping the cabin relatively cool over the past few days, despite the scorching temperatures brought on by our current heatwave. Makes me wish that sunshades were more widely available across all vehicle segments.
It's not like you asked or anything, but here are three things I love about the leather found in our A8:
1) Its texture. The leather is perforated, and to my eyes, this helps give it a finish that's simultaneously modern and vintage.
2) Its color. That lighter, soft shade of brown helps give the skin a sophisticated and expensive appearance.
3) Its durability. With over 20,000 miles on the odometer, the hide in our A8 looks a good as new.
I'll let you in on a little secret: The very same parking structure that houses the Edmunds fleet is also used by a nearby Audi dealer as a storage facility.
Our A8 was desperate to connect with some long-lost family members, so I obliged the stately sedan with a spin through that far corner of the garage, and took a photo to commemorate the event.
That walk through Audi-land reminded me that I'd really, really like to get some seat time in the A6.
Those of you following these blogs for any significant period of time will know I'm fairly particular about thigh support and the way door locks work. Specifically, I hate auto-lock.
Well, a new door-lock-related problem has crept up recently and it doesn't seem to be going away. Here's what's happening....
So here's what I do: I get out of the car and I open the back door or the trunk based on where my gym/work bag is and then, with the door still open, I attempt to lock the door. Why? Because in about 3 seconds I'm going to have both hands full and want to get the locking out of the way while I still can. (Or let's say your girlfriend is incredibly slow at getting out of the car, but a very fast walker so you want to lock the door while she's half out and you're halfway down the driveway.)
It's a solid plan. I've been driving for some decade-and-a-half and I've never locked my keys in the car. Ever.
Now, let's say you try to do that in our Camry or our Impreza (and I think our Lexus GS and the FR-S/BRZ and the Mazda 3) or a number of other cars with truly keyless proximity systems. No dice, friend. The car simply beeps a panicky beep that says "Oh noes! You're going to lock your keys in there! Careful. BEEEEP. BEEEP. CAREFUL."
Our Audi doesn't do that. It trusts you. You want to lock the doors with all of the doors open? No problem. Trunk? Fine!
It's nice to have a car do what you want it to do and not what some team of lawyers and development guys think it should do.
This weather seal came off the A8 over the weekend. Not a big deal as it went back into place with little effort. Doesn't seem to be anything holding it in place except a (once) tight interference fit with the door itself. We'll see if it holds.
It's possible that this clock is the only analog device in the A8. And even that is questionable. Still, this thing eats up some pretty good real estate on the dashboard.
I think it's worth it. I'm a fan of the analog clock found in most luxury cars and the A8 is no exception.
I was about to post my impressions of, and a few facts about, the sound system in our Audi A8L, and found that Edmunds has a page devoted to entire system review here. I'll just say this (in the voice of Bill), "Whoa."
While I'm not an audiophile like our reviewer (who found fault with the boomy bass and harsh treble), I was slack-jawed by the 1,400-watt 19-speaker stereo. I heard things (like a squeaky bass-drum pedal and a guitarist's wrist thumping the body of his guitar) that I've never heard in songs that I have listened to hundreds of times, in other cars and at home on my "big" system.
Sure, door dings are a fact of life, but it can be fun to try and come up with ways to beat the system. Carroll certainly had the right idea in this post. But in my experience, even when you park on the far, deserted end of a parking lot, chances are you'll return from your shopping or whatever to find that some other driver has ignored the 2 billion other empty parking spaces to park right next to you. And he's probably dinged your door.
That's why I do a happy dance inside whenever I nab parking spaces like the one shown above. Wall on the left, column on the right. Virtually ding-proof.
I'm not indicting anybody here — no harm; no foul — but we never heard if the bike fit or not.
Yesterday morning, for no reason other than the inestimable number of people all trying to occupy the same space, it took me 3 hours to commute from home to work (a mere 41 miles). That was in our Jaguar XF and I wish I had been driving the Audi A8L instead. It's year with us is nearing an end, and last night was my first and perhaps last drive in the spa on wheels. Whoa, what an escape pod: Heated, massaging seats, multi-mode suspension/trans/steering (I selected Comfort), amazing audio system, and a hushed cabin. Now I understand why this car is never available by the time my name comes up on the sign-out. I wouldn't give it back either.
Those seat controls may look simple, but the one toward the front of the seat has a menu all to itself. Not only does it provide a way to select a massage and the intensity of it, it also provides myriad adjustments to the bolsters, lumbar, and seat-top and thigh support.
Incidentally, I know this post isn't revealing anything "new" about the A8L, but I was so impressed and grateful for the chance to drive it for one night. What a car, what a car.
My 16-year-old cousin and I share a similar taste in music, so when I eagerly returned from Best Buy the other day with three new CDs in hand I felt compelled to let her know with a picture via text message.
Then, suddenly very well aware of my age, I also felt the need to explain myself. I was quite sure she'd know what a CD was, but would no doubt be wondering why the hell I bothered to buy one (let alone three) in this world of iTunes and iPods. You're probably doing the same.
The reason is days like this when I get to drive cars like the Audi A8 with incredible sound systems. CDs still have superior sound quality, and if you're going to be using a stereo that comes with a four-figure price tag, you want to maximize its potential. Having the original CD on hand in the case of a calamitous hard drive failure isn't a bad idea, either.
Frankly, if I drove the same car every day, I'd definitely keep my big old-school book of CDs on hand. Certainly for the reasons above, but I'd be lying if I said there wasn't some nostalgia involved as well. Damn it, I'm getting old.
The Audi A8's rear head restraints are enormous, which is nice for the heads resting upon them, but not so great for visibility. It would be nice if they could flop back onto the parcel shelf in some way.
Our Audi A8 said goodbye yesterday and I was honored to enjoy our last weekend with it. As always, it was supremely comfortable, capable and impeccable. The seats are astonishing, the engine is potent and the adjustable drive settings are an example for other makes (cough, BMW, cough). It remained a handful in tight spots, though, and I'm still not sold on its anonymous styling.
Still, it was a good year.
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.