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Audi A8

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Whatcar? Review

For

The Audi A8 is a technologically advanced, refined and beautifully made luxury car. Standard equipment is comprehensive and the 3.0-litre diesel model combines effortless performance with impressive economy.

Against

It's not as roomy as some rivals, the subtle styling won't appeal to everyone and the numb steering doesn't provide much reassurance in corners.

Summary

The Audi A8 offers all the refinement and technology you could want, and has one of the classiest cabins around. It's not the biggest limo, but it's far from cramped.

Performance

The Audi A8 has a wide range of petrol and diesel engines. Most are V6s and V8s, but there’s also a hybrid version that combines a four-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor, and a rip-snorting W12. All have an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Our favourite engine is the 3.0 TDI diesel, which is effortlessly swift. The more powerful versions are seriously quick.

Ride & Handling

Every A8 has adjustable air suspension that provides a pretty supple ride when you select Comfort or Auto mode. However, sharp bumps can still send the odd shudder through the cabin (and those onboard). In most settings, body control is good for such a big car, but while the steering weights up with speed, it is devoid of feel.

Refinement

The A8 lets in a bit of road noise over coarse surfaces, but standard double glazing keeps wind noise to a minimum and the engines sound polished at all times. There's an unobtrusive engine stop-start system that cuts the engine when you come to a standstill and then restarts it as soon as you lift off the brake pedal. The hybrid model s whisper-quiet in electric mode, but the four-cylinder engine is far too noisy when it kicks in.

Buying & Owning

Prices undercut those of key BMW and Mercedes-Benz rivals, but the Audi A8 still isn't cheap and, like any big limo, it will suffer heavy depreciation. The V8 engines are respectably efficient given their power, although the V6 diesels make far more financial sense, averaging mid-forties mpg and attracting a relatively low company car tax rating.

Quality & Reliability

Audi has a reputation for outstanding cabin quality, and the A8 shows it's well deserved. All of the materials are beautifully textured, the screen's graphics look great and the interior panel gaps are all millimetre-perfect. The JD Power customer satisfaction survey suggests that Audi's reliability doesn't always match its standards of assembly, though.

Safety & Security

You won't want for safety kit. Every A8 comes with eight airbags, stability control and Audi's pre-sense system, which automatically activates the hazard warning lights, closes the windows and tightens the front seatbelts if an accident looks unavoidable. A more sophisticated version that also brakes the car is available as an option, as is a night-vision system that's capable of identifying pedestrians. Security kit is comprehensive, too.

Behind The Wheel

A huge range of electric seat and steering wheel adjustment makes it easy to get comfortable in the A8, while Audi's MMI control system keeps clutter to a minimum by letting you access most functions via on-screen menus. The A8 also has a touchpad that lets you write your destination into the sat-nav, so you can programme it without taking your eyes of the road. However, some of the MMI menus can be a bit distracting.

Space & Practicality

The standard A8 isn't as roomy as a BMW 7 Series, or even some family hatchbacks, but there's plenty of space for four six-footers, and all the seats are comfortable and supportive. The boot is a decent size, at 510 litres, although it's a bit short. The ‘L’ long-wheelbase version has more rear legroom and is a genuinely comfortable four-seat limo.

Equipment

The long list of standard equipment includes climate control, leather upholstery, a DAB radio, satellite-navigation and all-LED headlights. SE Executive trim adds electrically operated boot closing, a rear parking camera and larger alloys. Buyers can also specify anything from massage seats to a thumping Bang & Olufsen stereo.