2012 Audi A8 Long Term Road Test - Audio & Technology

2012 Audi A8 Long Term Road Test

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2012 Audi A8L: Listening Old School

October 12, 2012

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.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor

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2012 Audi A8L: Fourteen-Hundred Watts of Sonic Awesomeness

October 11, 2012

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.

Chief Whoa'd Editor, Chris Walton @ 12,275 miles

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2012 Audi A8L: Spa on wheels

October 11, 2012

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.

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2012 Audi A8L: Analog

October 9, 2012

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.


Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

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2012 Audi A8L: Its Own Favorite Playlist

September 27, 2012

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.

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor

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2012 Audi A8 L: Actual Trip Miles

August 07, 2012


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.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 19,046 miles

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2012 Audi A8L: Which Way Is Up?

June 28, 2012

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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?

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2012 Audi A8L: Radio Presets

June 27, 2012

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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.

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2012 Audi A8 L: Born to Borrow

June 19, 2012

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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.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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2012 Audi A8L: What Causes ACC To Cancel Itself?

June 12, 2012


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.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2012 Audi A8 L: Audi-O Comparison

June 07, 2012


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.

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @ 14,883 miles

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2012 Audi A8L: Future Audi A8L To Have 4G?

June 05, 2012


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.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2012 Audi A8L: Phennighausen, You Were Right

June 04, 2012

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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?

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 16,232 miles

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2012 Audi A8L: Der Kofferraum Ist Kaputt (Updated)

June 04, 2012


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.

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2012 Audi A8L: The Sound of No Hands Clapping

May 22, 2012

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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).

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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2012 Audi A8L: Ready for Its Close-up

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.

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2012 Audi A8L: Frantic Fan Speed

March 31, 2012

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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....

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2012 Audi A8L: Messing With Radar Detectors

March 30, 2012


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.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor 

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2012 Audi A8L: Yesterday's Driver

March 30, 2012


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.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

And p.s. after driving the Audi A8 last night, I would add it to my Mega Millions list.

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2012 Audi A8L: 22-Way Adjustable Seats

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.

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2012 Audi A8L: Blogging at 70 mph

March 26, 2012


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!

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 11,957...11,958... miles

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2012 Audi A8L: Seat Cushion Length Adjustment -- Good Range

March 22, 2012


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.

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2012 Audi A8L: 18-Way Adjustable Front Seats

March 21, 2012


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.

Very accommodating.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2012 Audi A8L: High Rider

March 19, 2012


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. 

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2012 Audi A8L: As BSM Goes, I Do Like This One

March 16, 2012


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.

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2012 Audi A8L: Self-Sealing Doors

March 14, 2012


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. Video after the jump.

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2012 Audi A8L: Technology Deployment

March 14, 2012


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.

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2012 Audi A8 L: Audi-O Impressions

March 12, 2012


$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.

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2012 Audi A8L: The Other Home Office

March 02, 2012


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.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2012 Audi A8L: Stuck In Traffic? Let ACC Take Over

February 29, 2012


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. 

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2012 Audi A8L: Needle Need

February 22, 2012


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."

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @ 9,888 miles

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2012 Audi A8L: Power Soft-Close Doors Still Awesome

February 21, 2012

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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.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 9,852 miles

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2012 Audi A8L: Dog Report

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.

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2012 Audi A8L: Volume Currently Unavailable

February 15, 2012


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?"

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 9,715 miles

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2012 Audi A8L: Lane Assist

February 10, 2012


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?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2012 Audi A8L: Heated Steering Wheel

February 02, 2012


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.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 9,228 miles

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2012 Audi A8L: Massaging Seats Make Me Giggle

February 02, 2012


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?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2012 Audi A8L: I Want It All

February 01, 2012


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.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2012 Audi A8: Least Favorite Shifter in the Class

January 28, 2012


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...

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2012 Audi A8 L: Setting Up the WiFi

January 27, 2012


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...

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2012 Audi A8L: Setting the Mooood

January 26, 2012

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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."

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2012 Audi A8L: How It Handles Low Fuel

January 25, 2012


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.

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2012 Audi A8L: Dynamic Steering (with video)

January 24, 2012


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.

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2012 Audi A8L: MMI is OK

January 24, 2012


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.

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2012 Audi A8L: Mirrors are Too Easy

January 20, 2012

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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.

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2012 Audi A8L: Service Due!

January 16, 2012


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.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 8,538 miles

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2012 Audi A8L: We Should've Got the Night Vision

December 31, 2011

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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.

Mike Magrath, Features Editor, Inside Line

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2012 Audi A8L: Seat Heaters Give You 10 Minutes

December 16, 2011

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Dear Audi, 

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. 


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2012 Audi A8L: Audi Connect

December 12, 2011


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?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2012 Audi A8L 4.2 FSI Quattro: Where Am I?

November 09, 2011

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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.

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2012 Audi A8L: Massages for Everyone!

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.

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2012 Audi A8L: Starting Video

November 03, 2011


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.

Video after the jump...

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2012 Audi A8L: Interior Video Tour

November 02, 2011


Video after the jump...

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2012 Audi A8L: The Zero Volume Pause

October 31, 2011


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.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 2,140 miles   

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2012 Audi A8L: LED Headlights

October 30, 2011


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.

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2012 Audi A8L: About That Shifter...

October 28, 2011


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.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line

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