Currently reading: Nearly new buying guide: Audi A8
One of the most discreet luxury limousines is also one of the best
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4 mins read
3 November 2021

The Audi A8, now in its fourth generation, is probably the most discreet luxury limousine around. But don’t mistake discretion for indifference: this is a techno-fest, with a host of features that maintain the A8’s reputation for innovation.

There’s the choice of a 282bhp 3.0-litre diesel (the 50 TDI) or a 335bhp 3.0-litre turbo petrol (the 55 TFSI). Both engines have a mild-hybrid system (a small battery and electric motor) and can cut out while you’re coasting for up to 40 seconds at a time in the name of efficiency.

If you want a plug-in hybrid, the 443bhp 60 TFSIe has an electric-only range of 28 miles. Or if you care little for fuel-saving, there’s the 563bhp 4.0-litre petrol V8 in the new S8.

When launched in 2017, there were just two trim levels on offer: no-name base and S Line. As you would expect, even that entry-level A8 is very well equipped, with the S Line being for those who desire sportier looks and trick matrix LED headlights.

Chauffeurs can opt for the A8 in long-wheelbase L form, in which case your passengers get heated rear seats, touchscreens for controlling the infotainment system, four-zone climate control and electric rear-window blinds.

Later A8s adopted a Sport, S Line, Black Edition and Vorsprung range. The former pair echoed the original trims, while the Black Edition got styling tweaks and the Vorsprung added all sorts of goodies, including 21in alloy wheels, front seat cooling, all-wheel steering and washer jets integrated into the wipers. Phwoar!

The A8 doesn’t have the precision of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class when it’s hustled along a back road quickly, but few, if any, A8 owners are ever going to drive their cars in this way.

No, limos are about relaxation, and the A8 is about as relaxing as driving gets. Its air suspension wafts you over bumps seamlessly, while engine noise is all but absent. There’s a faint whisper of the wind and a background hum of road noise, but that aside, all is silent. Inside the A8 is a marvellous place to be. It’s not as glitzy as the S-Class, but its more understated furnishings are deeply appealing, with slivers of open-pore wood, top-quality materials and glossy touchscreens and touch controls everywhere.

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That latter point is a bugbear in use, mind you, for while these items look snazzy, they’re a pain to use, because you have to take your eyes off the road to use them – and a few prods soon render them grubby.

Space is a key element of a luxury car and the A8 delivers it in spades, even in standard-wheelbase guise.

All is well up front, too, with lots of useful cubbies and big, deep door pockets, while the boot of petrol and diesel cars is one of the biggest in the class, with almost as much volume as that of some small estates.

 

BUYER BEWARE

Electronics There's much to go wrong here so check every last feature works.

Suspension Scroll through the various ride modes to make sure they work.  

Body Even casual dents may be more than a simple job for Dentmaster.

Wheels They're so big you'd have to be blind to miss any kerbing damage.

Service history Only full main dealer will do.

Warranty Negotiate a good one as part of the purchase price.

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Need to know

The latest WLTP economy figures are 29.7mpg for the 55 TFSI and 40.9mpg for the 50 TDI. The 60 TFSIe PHEV’s 113mpg will be hard to achieve, but it will certainly do better than the 24.6mpg of the S8.

There have been four recalls, over the rear shock absorbers; a gearbox oil leak; problematic front-seat guide rails; and missing clips in the active head restraints.

The PHEV’s battery eats into the boot to make it less capacious than that of the much smaller Audi A4.

Prices start at around £30,000 for a 2017 or early 2018 A8 with an average mileage and a full service history. The rarer L cars command a premium of as much as £5000.

Our pick

L 50 TDI Quattro: The regular diesel will do quite nicely, thanks, but we would go for the 5.1in-longer-wheelbase A8 L, because we would enjoy reclining with all that extra leg room. We just need to find a willing chauffeur…

Wild card

S8 Quattro: We can’t fail to mention the Ronin-spec S8 in this section. A stonking 563bhp 4.0-litre petrol V8 can propel this leather-lined barge from 0-62mph in 3.8sec. Few armed convoys will be able to get away from one of these…

Ones we found

2018 A8 50 TDI, 50,000 miles, £26,490

2018 A8 L 55 TFSI, 40,000 miles, £30,000

2019 A8 50 TDI Vorsprung, 10,000 miles, £65,999

2021 S8, delivery mileage, £89,790

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