Audi A8 saloon
Price £60,235 - £98,570
- 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."
If you’re lucky enough to drive an Audi A8 – or if you’re even luckier and are chauffeur-driven around in one – then you’ll appreciate this car's sheer competence. Although the newer Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7 Series both pack in more technology, that's not to say the Audi is poorly equipped – more that the class has moved on quickly.
The entry-level A8 is the 258bhp 3.0-litre TDI diesel and in truth this engine makes the car as quick as anyone is ever likely to need. A more powerful 4.2-litre TDI is also available, while the blisteringly quick S8 has a 4.0-litre twin-turbo petrol engine that produces 513bhp. There's also an even faster S8 Plus available with 597bhp and a top speed of 189mph. These are only offered in standard wheelbase form. If you go for the long-wheelbase version, with more space for rear passengers, you can also choose a hybrid version or the W12, which has the huge 6.3-litre petrol engine also found in the Bentley Continental.
Combined with the A8's vast size, the more powerful models aren’t cheap to run, but if you stick with the diesels, official fuel economy figures hover around 50mpg.
All Audi A8s come with quattro four-wheel drive and a system called Audi Drive Select that allows you to tweak the steering, suspension and gearbox to make the car sportier or more comfortable, giving you the flexibility to change the car's character depending on how you want to use it. The interior boasts the highest-grade materials and is very logically laid-out and easy to use. While the boot isn’t the biggest in this class, there's room for several suitcases and even more space and storage inside the car for passengers.
Customers looking for even more space to stretch out in the rear can choose the long-wheelbase version, which provides limousine-like legroom for back-seat passengers. The Audi A8 comes in SE, SE Executive, Sport, Edition 21 and range-topping S8 and S8 Plus trim levels, while the long-wheelbase version comes in SE L, SE Executive L, Edition 21 L and W12 specifications.
The Audi A8 counts the Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7 Series and Jaguar XJ as its main rivals, and while the Mercedes is more comfortable, the BMW slightly better to drive and the Jaguar more eye-catching, the Audi is still an excellent all-rounder – but it's beginning to feel its age.
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