11 December 2003

Audi adds another model to its flagship range this week, as it makes a 3.0-litre six-pot petrol A8 available for UK order. The new A8 3.0 Multitronic becomes the first luxury saloon with a stepless continuously variable transmission (CVT), and costs £46,105 on the road.

Featuring a single, variable ratio, rather than several discreet gears, the CVT should offer exceptionally smooth and flexible performance, uninterrupted by conventional automatic gear changes, and free from the handicap of a power-sapping torque converter.

The all-alloy V6 block provides 220bhp at 6,300rpm, and 220lb ft of torque at 3,200rpm. Audi claims a 0-62mph sprint of 7.9sec, and a top speed of 150mph.

Running costs should be equally impressive. Ingolstadt’s assurances are that it will match the punchy 4.0-litre V8 TDi on fuel economy, offering an identical 29.4mpg on the combined cycle, and beat it on carbon dioxide emission, at 230g/km.

The range will be completed before next summer, by which time the Multitronic will be joined by a more frugal 3.0-litre TDi, which will meet 2005’s more stringent Euro4 emissions regulations, and the muscular 6.0-litre W12.

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