This week we’re looking at the 2014 Audi flagship A8 through the eyes of Vince Bodiford who got me into the newspaper business and reviewing cars just about 20 years ago. I guess he thought since I owned an automotive repair business this might just be up my alley. Vince has a column that runs in some of his papers in the South Bay area of California and his website www.theweekenddrive.com where I also contribute. Vince and I partnered up with Price Cobb in the newspaper business in Colorado and Texas in the 1990s. Price had just retired from active racing as a driver where he gained international fame as a winner of the triple-crown in racing for Jaguar.
So herewith Vince’s take on the Audi A8.
2014 Audi flagship A8 line offers five enticing variants
By Vince Bodiford
At the very top of the Audi product range is the A8 – a large, comfortable grand touring saloon that we love to drive – especially on long or interesting drives with a full load of passengers and gear. The A8 is the pinnacle of the Audi experience.
The model line includes five variants: the A8 3.0T, 4.0T, S8, W12 and the new 3.0 liter TDI. Each one fulfils its separate niche mission with ease and elegance. Available in normal and long wheelbases, the A8 embodies premium and functional design, progressive technology, and advanced engineering and performance. For this test, we drove the long-wheelbase A8 L TDI clean diesel – but I like each of the five flavors equally.
We’re very impressed with the fuel efficiency of our test car. The A8 L TDI delivers the best fuel economy in its segment with an EPA estimated 24 city/ 36 highway/ 28 combined miles per gallon that exceeds that of diesel and hybrid competitors alike. At the same time, the 3.0 liter V6 turbocharged clean diesel engine generates 240 hp and 406 lb-ft. of torque, easily launching from 0-60 mph in 6.4 seconds delivering all of the efficiency benefits without compromising performance.
The A8 3.0T, the entry to the A8 model line, continues in 2014 with a TFSI V6 supercharged engine that produces 333-hp and 325 lb-ft. of torque and sprints from 0-60 mph in 5.5 seconds.
The A8 4.0-liter TFSI biturbo V8 engine produces 420 hp and 444 lb-ft. of torque, propelling from 0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds/4.8 seconds (normal wheelbase models/long wheelbase models).
The S8 is the performance heavyweight of the group. It delivers great performance through its 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged, direct-injected V8 engine, sport air suspension, and high-performance brake system. Producing 520 hp and 481 lb-ft. of torque, the S8 rockets from 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds and reaches a governed top speed of 155-mph. The Audi A8 L W12, the pinnacle of the A8 model line, is equipped with a 6.3-liter FSI W12 engine that delivers 500 hp and 463 lb-ft of torque.
All engines are mated to an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission and feature the legendary Audi quattro all-wheel drive system. Clearly, any of the five models with any engine is the stuff you’d love to drive on an open road.
The A8 sedan is a beautiful car, with its sheet metal artfully crafted in aluminum. It exudes modern elegance, luxury and dynamism. With its sweeping lines and uniquely bold Audi grill, the A8 delivers a striking visual statement. New for 2014, the Audi A8 Premium package option includes full LED headlights that give the A8 a distinctive and unmistakable Audi appearance.
Inside, the spacious A8 cabin features meticulous craftsmanship and modern yet functional design elements. A new Premium package for the A8 3.0T, 4.0T and TDI includes 22-way front seats with ventilation, making any long drive enjoyable. Ventilated and massage rear seats have been added to the Rear Seat Comfort plus package for the long wheel base 3.0T, 4.0T and TDI models, which can be combined with the diamond stitch interior of the Luxury package.
Short- wheelbase models now have the Convenience package standard and include power door closers, Audi advanced key with foot-operated power trunklid, and Audi parking system plus with rearview camera. All models offer the optional Audi lane assist, which warns the driver by means of vibrations in the steering wheel if the vehicle begins to wander out of its lane.
Our favorite and coolest new feature for 2014 is the Driver Assistance and Camera Assistance packages, which have been combined, including the 360 degree view of the car which offers an entertaining (but useful) birds-eye view of the car and its surroundings using the fore, side and rear cameras to create a flattened image.
The line is equipped standard with Audi connect infotainment system. Audi was the first to offer factory-fitted in-vehicle Wi-Fi connectivity for passengers, enabling connectivity to up to eight wireless devices. With Audi connect, the onboard Audi MMI Navigation system is enhanced with Google Earth maps for a true aerial view of the route – and this combination in my opinion is the best in the business.
The driving experience of the A8 is unique and different from its rivals, in that it delivers a feel and ride quality of a very substantial, large and stable platform. Braking, throttle response, steering input, and visibility are all world-class and exceptional.
Overall, the Audi A8 range is a strong contender in the fine luxury car segment. Pricing for the A8 range starts at $75,100 up to $112,500, depending on which model, wheelbase, engine and option choices. Rivals include the BMW 7-Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, and Lexus LS460-L.
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