"Quiet, comfortable and luxurious, but packs huge amounts of performance and can be genuinely fun to drive when you want it to be."
It doesn't matter if you're looking for a car to drive, or to be driven in, the Audi A8 is thoroughly impressive in both areas. It packs a host of clever technology to make the driving experience as seamless as possible, including lights that are connected to the sat-nav and will illuminate junctions, bend round corners and even dip when they sense oncoming traffic. A system called Audi Drive Select also features, and allows drivers to tweak the steering, suspension and gearbox to make the car more sporty or more comfortable. The cabin itself is finished in high-grade materials and is very logically laid out. Customers looking for a bit more space to stretch out in the rear can opt for the long wheelbase version.
For a car of its size and weight, the A8 is a fantastic on-road performer. Even the most basic 3.0 TDI diesel can launch the Audi from 0-62mph in 6.6 seconds. The 4.2-litre petrol and diesel engines manage 5.7 and 5.5 seconds respectively, which is faster than many sports cars. All cars are fitted with an eight-speed semi-automatic gearbox which offers quiet and quick shifts and is even hooked-up to the sat-nav so it can select the correct gear before approaching corners or a long straight. Audi's Drive Select system can alter suspension, steering and throttle response to make the drive a bit sportier or more comfortable, depending on customer preference. This makes the A8 a fantastic all-rounder, but not the most exciting driving experience in this segment.
To give you an idea of how comfort-oriented the A8 is, you just have to look at the options list. The seats can be heated, cooled and even offer a massage function. The windows are double glazed to insulate the cabin from outside noise and the suspension is extremely adept at soaking up road imperfections. All-in-all the A8 is one of the most relaxing cars on the road, and the luxurious leather seats are soft but supportive.
There's plenty of standard safety kit on the A8, including electronic stability control, an advanced anti-lock brake system and Audi's PreSense system. This can close the windows, activate the hazard lights and tension the seatbelts if it senses an accident is about to happen. There are a few extra safety options though, including a system which can brake the car for you, and Night Vision Assist, which can spot animals and people walking in the road at night time. All Audis have a decent reliability track record and dealers are good at handling problems when things do go wrong.
The A8 is all about space and comfort. Even the standard wheelbase model will sit even the tallest adults in the rear seats with plenty of knee, leg, shoulder and headroom. Go for the long wheelbase model and you'll struggle to touch the seat in front of you – no matter how much you stretch out. There are cars with larger boots in this segment, but the 520 litres on offer here is enough for almost all uses.
Value for money
The A8 is quite expensive to buy, but it's not out of place in this luxury segment. The range starts with SE models which get cruise control, a DAB digital radio, keyless entry, full leather upholstery, air-conditioning and sat-nav as standard. Buyers can go for SE Executive or Sport Executive models which get larger 19-inch alloy wheels and a reverse parking camera. There are plenty of optional extras available too, but be careful, as prices can soon rocket beyond £100,000.
The great thing about the A8 is that the frugal 4.2 TDI diesel delivers faster acceleration than the 4.2-litre petrol engine. It's also just as smooth, meaning you get excellent diesel fuel efficiency with no trade off in performance or comfort. It claims 37.2mpg and emissions of 199g/km, compared to the 30mpg and 219g/km offered by the petrol engine. Most impressive is the 3.0 TDI diesel, which can average 47mpg.