Used 2016 Audi A8 Review

Edmunds expert review

It's no longer the freshest face among the luxury flagships, but the 2016 Audi A8 remains competitive on the basis of its fantastic interior, strong engines and athletic character. Key rivals offers more advanced technology features, though.




What's new for 2016

For 2016, the Audi A8 will be offered in only the longer-wheelbase L version on all trim levels. In addition, all 2016 A8s come with standard dual-pane acoustic glass, extended leather in the cabin (door armrests, center console and airbag cover) and upgraded 4G LTE WiFi. Audi has also added new wheel designs and revised the option packages, several of which are effectively no-cost add-ons depending on the trim level. For example, when a buyer selects the Executive package (18-way multicontour and ventilated front seats, a panoramic sunroof and side- and top-view cameras) for the A8 3.0T or TDI, Audi credits him or her for the full cost of the package.

Vehicle overview

Once you start shopping for an elite luxury sedan, you realize quickly that all of the sedans in this class are outstanding automobiles. They're all fast, supremely comfortable, elegantly appointed and loaded with more technology than you'll ever use. So your decision will probably hinge on small details like personality and prestige. Although the Audi A8 has never been held in quite the same esteem as its more famous German rivals, it has an athletic character that might really speak to buyers who like to drive.

For 2016, all Audi A8s are the longer-wheelbase L version. The shorter-wheelbase sedan is discontinued.

Standard all-wheel drive, along with a carefully tuned suspension, contributes much to this Audi's road manners. Regardless of the wheels and tires you select, this very large sedan grips the road extremely well, and you might be inspired to take back-road detours for the sheer enjoyment of it. Even if you stick to major highways, you'll still be impressed by the way the 2016 Audi A8 carries itself, as the ride is neatly composed and never harsh. All four of the available engines have their own advantages, but the 4.0T offers the best overall performance, while the TDI is hard to beat if you're looking to maximize fuel economy.

Beyond performance, the 2016 Audi A8 is notable for its stunning interior. Of course, its rivals have great cabins, too, but there's a warmth to the Audi's decor that we find especially inviting and, for 2016, all A8s have been fitted with extended leather on their doors, dash and center console. Although we've commented favorably on the integration of technology in past years, the current A8 is starting to feel a bit dated in this area. Even with the addition of 4G LTE WiFi for 2016, Audi's dial-operated Multi Media Interface (MMI) is now a generation behind the interfaces in the newly redesigned BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Those sedans also offer more in the way of collision mitigation technology and other advanced driving aids.

And there's no denying that the 7 Series and S-Class are the ones to beat in this class. Neither one is as engaging to drive as the A8, but they surpass the Audi in the breadth of their amenities, old-world charm and, yes, name recognition. On the other side of the spectrum, the Porsche Panamera is unequivocally the best-handling executive sedan and should fill the bill for the rare driver who decides the A8 isn't sporty enough (though it isn't as spacious for passengers as the Audi). Another interesting option is the Jaguar XJ, which is similarly athletic and overflowing with British character and eccentricities. Nevertheless, we remain fond of the Audi A8, and it absolutely merits consideration if you're shopping for a large luxury sedan.




Trim levels & features

A large luxury sedan, the 2016 Audi A8 is offered in a single, long-wheelbase L version. The lineup consists of two six-cylinder models, the 3.0T and the diesel TDI, along with the eight-cylinder 4.0T and the range-topping W12 version.

The 3.0T and TDI models are equipped with 19-inch wheels, LED headlights, a sunroof, dual-pane acoustic glass, heated and power-folding exterior mirrors, auto-dimming mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, power door closers, an adaptive air suspension, keyless ignition and entry, four-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery (with extended leather on the doors, dash and console), 14-way power-adjustable and heated front seats (with four-way power lumbar), front seat memory functions, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and power sunshades for both the rear glass and rear side windows. Electronic features include in-car 4G LTE WiFi, an 8-inch display screen, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, Audi's MMI infotainment interface, a navigation system, voice controls, a rearview camera and a 14-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system with a CD/DVD player, iPod connectivity and satellite radio.

Regardless of which rear-seat configuration you select, the accommodations are downright decadent.

The eight-cylinder A8 4.0T includes all of the above plus 20-inch wheels, a sportier bumper and side sill treatment, a panoramic sunroof, upgraded leather upholstery with a simulated suede headliner, 18-way multicontour front seats (with four-way lumbar, ventilation and massage), side- and top-view cameras, a blind-spot monitoring system, a head-up display and interior active noise cancellation.

The W12 adds additional exterior chrome and stainless steel accents, enhanced variable-ratio steering, a heated steering wheel, power-adjustable outboard rear seats with heating, ventilation, massage and a fixed console between them (reducing total seating capacity to four), a dual-screen rear seat entertainment system, a rear-seat pass-through and a glovebox-mounted six-CD/DVD changer. If you don't want the fixed console, a three-passenger layout for the backseat is a no-cost option.

Most of the extras on the upper trims are available as options for lower-line models. The Executive package for the 3.0T and TDI bundles most of the upgraded amenities from the 4.0T along with the heated steering wheel, heated rear seats and rear pass-through, and is being offered as a credit option for the 2016 model year. If you're buying a 4.0T, the Cold Weather package (heated steering wheel, heated rear seats and rear pass-through) is a credit option. Meanwhile, the Driver Assistance package includes adaptive cruise control, a frontal collision warning system (Audi Pre-Sense Plus), lane keeping assist and automatic high-beam control. It's optional on all 2016 Audi A8s, but there's a full package credit for the A8 W12.

Other notable add-ons include a night vision system, a 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen surround-sound audio system and sport seats. A variety of wheel designs and interior wood trim accents are also available.

On the A8 4.0T and W12, you can order up a sport rear differential that improves handling (on the 4.0T, it's part of the Dynamic package that includes the variable-ratio steering). The Executive Rear Seat Comfort package is limited to the W12 and includes a power foot rest for the right rear passenger, a cool box in the rear center console (deleting the rear pass-through) and a household-type power outlet. The front passenger seat loses some of its power adjustments and its massage feature when you select this package.



Performance & mpg

Powering the 2016 A8 3.0T is a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine that produces 333 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. As with all A8 models, the 3.0T uses an eight-speed automatic transmission that drives all four wheels through an all-wheel-drive system. In Edmunds testing, this model reached 60 mph in a short 5.3 seconds, which is quicker than other six-cylinder-powered rivals and almost as quick as some V8s. The EPA's fuel economy estimates for the A8 vary depending on which engine you opt for, but the 3.0-liter V6 gets an estimate of 22 mpg combined (19 city/29 highway).

The diesel-powered A8 TDI utilizes a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that's good for 240 hp and 428 lb-ft of torque. In Edmunds testing, the diesel Audi A8 hit 60 mph in 6.3 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy comes in at 28 mpg combined (24 city/36 highway).

Audi A8 4.0T models receive a turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine that makes 435 hp and 444 lb-ft of torque. In our testing, the A8 4.0T sprinted to 60 mph in just 4.2 seconds. Fuel economy is estimated at 22 mpg combined (18/29).

All of the engines are excellent in their own way, but the V8 in the A8 4.0T is our pick.

The range-topping A8 W12 produces 500 hp and 463 lb-ft of torque from its 6.3-liter normally aspirated W12 engine. These are big numbers, but bear in mind that the A8 W12 is significantly heavier than the 4.0T model. Audi estimates its 0-60-mph acceleration at 4.4 seconds, and the EPA's fuel economy estimates drop to 17 mpg combined (14/22). Unlike other A8s, the W12 does not benefit from an automatic engine stop-start function to conserve fuel while stopped in traffic.

Safety

Standard safety features for all 2015 Audi A8 models include antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front and rear side airbags, front knee airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, a rearview camera and Audi's Pre-Sense system that pretensions seatbelts and closes the sunroof and windows if it detects heavy braking.

Models equipped with the adaptive cruise control option also come with Pre-Sense Plus, which alerts the driver to imminent frontal collisions and, in certain situations, intervenes with maximum braking (although unlike rival systems, it doesn't detect pedestrians). Also included is Pre-Sense Rear, which reacts to imminent rear-end collisions by tensioning seatbelts, closing windows and adjusting the seats for optimal protection. Other features that may be standard or optional depending on trim level include a side- and top-view camera system, a night vision system (with pedestrian and animal detection), a lane-keeping assist system and a blind-spot monitoring system.

In Edmunds brake testing, A8 models equipped with summer tires have routinely come to a stop from 60 mph in distances shorter than 104 feet, which is exceptional for a large, heavy sedan. With all-season tires, those distances increased to 114 feet, which is also excellent.

Driving

With its abundant power and impressive fuel economy estimates, the V8-equipped 4.0T is our favorite among the gasoline-powered 2016 Audi A8 models. Of course, the supercharged V6 in the A8 3.0T provides brisk response in pretty much any driving situation, but the V8 model gets up to speed with a flood of power and such minimal effort that you'll be smitten with it. The same holds true for the diesel-powered A8 TDI, thanks to its wealth of torque. There's very little clatter coming from the engine, though the automatic stop-start function can be a little jarring. Thankfully, it can be disabled. Although it won't outrun the excellent 4.0T model, the portly W12 is destined to be the rarest A8, and it accelerates with the yawning ease that only 12 cylinders can provide.

Standard all-wheel drive provides high levels of cornering prowess and surefootedness on slick roads. Furthermore, the well-tuned suspension and intuitive steering response allow the big sedan to go around tight turns like a much smaller car. Drivers with high expectations for performance and handling should be quite happy with the Audi A8.

What's more, the A8 still delivers the superb ride comfort expected of an elite luxury sedan. The big Audi's suspension smooths out the roughest of pavement, and the cabin remains as quiet as a crypt over a variety of surfaces and at highway speeds. This desirable combination of world-class comfort and athletic handling sets the 2016 Audi A8 apart in this class.

Interior

Among large luxury flagships, interiors are arguably one of the most important deciding factors. The 2015 Audi A8 rises to the occasion with excellent materials, smart design and an abundance of high-tech features. Most Audis are notable for their businesslike austere design, but the A8 is decidedly luxurious in its execution, and rich wood inlays and supple leather surfaces are in abundance.

Comfort is in no short supply, even with the standard 14-way adjustable front seats. Upgrading to the optional 18-way adjustable ventilated seats enhances passenger satisfaction, and the massage functions should be enough to send most people over the edge (although most competitors also offer them). That same level of decadence can also be enjoyed in the rear seats by upgrading to the Rear Seat Comfort package. Even without that option, rear passengers enjoy a wealth of space and amenities.

Although the tech interface is dated, the A8's interior is still notable for its superb furnishings and warm ambience.

Audi's MMI infotainment interface features an 8-inch central screen and a dial-type controller on the console surrounded by useful shortcut buttons. There's also a small pad on which you can trace letters and numbers with your fingertip to enter addresses or search for phone numbers and music. Although MMI responds quickly to inputs, we've found that it generally isn't as easy to operate as rival systems. It's also starting to feel a bit dated from the standpoint of overall functionality, as BMW and Mercedes have rolled out next-generation interfaces with pinch-and-swipe capability that supports deeper integration for smartphone users.

Another potential downside is cargo capacity, as the A8 accommodates a maximum of only 14.2 cubic feet.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.