Audi A8 saloon
Price £63,520 - £99,265
- Well equipped
- Efficient diesel engines
- Comfortable and refined
- Expensive to buy
- Boot small compared to rivals
- Some cars in class more fun to drive
At a glance
"The Audi A8 is quiet, comfortable and luxurious, but packs huge performance and can be fun to drive when you want it to be."
Not many people can afford to drive an Audi A8, and even fewer still get to be driven around by a chauffeur in one, but these two small groups of society will appreciate just how accomplished the A8 is as a limousine-like saloon car. The latest Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7 Series, the A8's nearest rivals, are both newer and come with an abundance of cutting-edge technology, but that's more of a testament to the demands of the latest cars in this class, rather than a criticism of the current A8.
The basic A8 comes with a 3.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine that produces 258bhp and makes the car sufficiently quick that it's hard to mount a particularly compelling case to pay the extra for the even more powerful 4.2-litre diesel. The sporty S8 model has a 513bhp 4.0-litre twin-turbo petrol engine, and if for some reason that's not quick enough, there is a S8 Plus model that produces a whopping 597bhp.
There's also a long-wheelbase version of the A8 that offers more space for rear-seat passengers and is available with the same massive 6.3-litre petrol engine used in the Bentley Continental.
The A8 is big and if you combine its weight with the larger, more powerful engines, you get a car that consumes a lot of fuel. Sticking to the diesels is the best bet in terms of keeping running costs down, as official figures come in at around 50mpg.
All Audi A8s feature the manufacturer's famous quattro four-wheel drive system, as well as Audi Drive Select, which allows the driver to switch between different setups to make the car sportier or more comfortable depending on how it's being used.
As we’ve come to expect from Audi, the interior of the car is well designed and the fit and finish are both excellent. There are cars with bigger boots in this class but there's still plenty of space for several suitcases in the A8's, as well as plenty of storage spaces dotted around the inside of the car.
The long-wheelbase A8 enhances the car's limousine credentials, providing even more space inside. This version of the car comes in four trim levels; SE L, SE Executive L, Edition 21 L and W12, while the standard version is available in SE, SE Executive, Sport, and Edition 21 trims, with the top-of-the-range S8 and S8 Plus models existing essentially as standalone models.
If you’re considering buying an Audi A8, the main alternatives to consider are the Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7 Series and Jaguar XJ. The Mercedes is more comfortable, the BMW better-to-drive and the Jaguar more striking to look at, but the Audi is still an impressive all-rounder, even if it is starting to show its age next to newer rivals.
If you’re looking to buy an Audi A8, we’d recommend the 3.0-litre TDI model in SE trim. Although it's the most basic version, there's nothing basic about the standard equipment or performance on offer. If you’re after one of the fastest luxury saloons available, however, the S8 Plus is the car you’re after, as it's now quicker and cheaper than the Mercedes-AMG S63.
The Audi A8 is surprisingly economical for a car of this size, but it'll still be expensive to run
All the engines available in the A8 deliver impressive performance
The A8 is one of the most comfortable cars on the road
Some rivals boast bigger boots but the Audi A8 is very spacious inside
The Audi A8 boasts plenty of safety equipment and decent reliability