October 15, 2012
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.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor
August 14, 2012
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.
Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 19,255 miles
August 01, 2012
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.
Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 18,826 miles.
July 30, 2012
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.
June 11, 2012
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.
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 16,803 miles
April 05, 2012
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.
April 04, 2012
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.
Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 12,657 miles.
April 02, 2012
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.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor
March 29, 2012
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.
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor
March 26, 2012
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.
March 13, 2012
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.
March 06, 2012
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.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 10,361 miles
February 24, 2012
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.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor
February 20, 2012
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.
February 06, 2012
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.
January 29, 2012
Yep, seat heater AND seat cooler on at the same time. Like leather-wrapped Icy Hot.
Mike Magrath, Features Editor, Inside Line
January 28, 2012
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.
Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief
December 16, 2011
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.
November 03, 2011
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.
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