2012 Audi A8L: The Wine Country Look
November 01, 2011
As great as the Audi A8 looks, you really want to park it someplace nice and take a picture.
To help season this car a little before we took it to the test track, I drove it to Monterey for a pointless Porsche racing deal that was going on up there. And the A8 did its requisite time parked in front of a Vesuvio, a restaurant in Carmel that's not too bad. Probably I should have taken a picture.
But this car is so much more than dinner transportation.
It's the stuff that's under the style part that really makes you like it, and a drive through the Monterey wine country in the valley next to the Salinas River on my way back to L.A. helped me figure it out.
Swanning around the wine country seems like something best experienced in some slow sedan with a British nameplate, but it turns out to be a way messier business than you expect. If you're trying to get to some winery that's actually good, it's always up some back road that you've never been, and you've got to get across bad farm roads to get there. There's always a water truck on the road ahead, some tractor is always darting out of a vineyard and across the road, and the pavement (if there is pavement) is spackled with dried mud. Plus there's a good chance that many of the people on the road with you are either lost or drunk, which produce surprisingly similar driving techniques.
Forget all that propaganda you read in food and wine magazines, a trip to the wine country is really like rallying.
So the things about the Audi A8 that you really appreciate the most in an exercise like this have to do with the stuff under the fenders, like all-wheel drive, big brakes and wide tires, plus there's the navigation system's ability to display every little road (even if it can't always remember what it's called).
Never mind the picture of the Audi A8 in the food-and-wine style in front of a restaurant; here it is on a bad road next to some winery that I've never heard of and probably could never find again anyway. Even across a couple of ridges I could still hear the cars still racing back at the track, which is probably appropriate.
Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 1,180 miles