From £55,700
Not much fun to steer, but if you have to drive it yourself, you probably can’t afford one anyway

Our Verdict

Audi A8

The Audi A8 is a highly capable and desirable luxury saloon that's very easy to live with, despite its flaws

Nic Cackett
1 December 2011

What is it?

Assessing Audi’s plutocratic flagship from the driver’s seat is a little like summarising the RMS Queen Mary 2 after a tour of the engine room, but it’s worth taking the helm of this enormously expensive long-wheelbase model just to experience the quilted bludgeon wedged beneath its bonnet.

Audi has gone to the trouble of boring out its W12 engine to 6.3 litres and equipping each of the 12 cylinders with direct fuel injection. The result is a 49bhp increase in output to 493bhp and a 460lb ft wave of torque at 3250rpm via an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

What's it like?

Those figures would be news to anyone who has driven the car at normal speeds. The vast petrol powerplant is intended to be neither seen nor heard, and it goes about its business with the noiseless industry of a good valet. However, should the mood take you, there’s sufficient poke at the end of the accelerator to crack 62mph in a preposterous 4.7sec.

Of course, the A8 never feels quite that quick. Instead, it feels like Audi has gone to the vast expense of having the earth pulled rapidly from beneath you while you hold a steering wheel in the aural equivalent of a church vestry. The feeling of disconnect from your surroundings is brought hammering home when it comes to the unpleasant job of stopping and turning this 2055kg gin palace.

There’s enough quattro-inspired stability to handle most misjudged corner entries, but even that potentially stimulating experience is wrought sterile by anaesthetised control surfaces.

Should I buy one?

Our advice is to leave the tiresome act of driving to an underling and retire to the rear, where the deluxe surroundings – and 130mm of extra legroom – can be savoured at leisure.

Audi A8 L W12

Price: £104,505; Top speed: 155mph (limited); 0-62mph: 4.7sec; Economy: 22.8mpg (combined); CO2: 290g/km; Kerb weight: 2055kg; Engine: W12, 6299cc, petrol; Power: 493bhp at 6200rpm; Torque: 460lb ft at 3250rpm; Gearbox: 8-spd auto

Join the debate

Comments
16

8 December 2011

Funny, as it must say something about myself, but this is the only audi i would really like to have!

Somehow, the idea of that colossal engine drinking all that petrol makes it rather naughty, but all in a soberly clad shell - like a nun wearing agent provocateur...

8 December 2011

I know we wouldnt be seeing this at all if it werent for the Chinese, but credit to Audi for sticking the steering wheel on the correct side for what we i doubt ever reach sales figures in triple figures, infact if Audi didnt register any them selves, double figures would probably be impressive.

But as a way to travel it sounds every bit as good as the soon to be dead Maybach. Its so politically incorrect that its glorious. Well done Audi and anyone who buys one

8 December 2011

If you're going to let an underling drive it, give him the V8 diesel.

DKW

8 December 2011

[quote il sole]like a nun wearing agent provocateur...[/quote] I like the analogy. Fairly discrete luxury, slightly spoilt by the presumably limited range.

8 December 2011

[quote DKW]slightly spoilt by the presumably limited range[/quote] sorry, are we talking about mother superior, or the audi???!!!

8 December 2011

[quote il sole]are we talking about mother superior, or the audi???!!![/quote]

This is the part that struck me most...

[quote DKW]slightly spoilt[/quote]

Perhaps she wasn't always a nun...spent too much time around men with cars with large petrol engines


8 December 2011

[quote DKW][quote il sole]like a nun wearing agent provocateur...[/quote] I like the analogy. Fairly discrete luxury, slightly spoilt by the presumably limited range.[/quote]

We need to qualify this a bit more...

...like a hot nun wearing Agent Provocateur.

8 December 2011

That has got to be dullest looking £95k car I've ever seen.

However in a world of tacky 'new money' blinged up Range Rovers and tinsel trimmed cars on sale these days it's quite refreshing!

8 December 2011

I can't afford this car, but I'm glad that it's still there. It is nice to see that there are still cars out there that are different from the norm.

8 December 2011

I wouldn't say I am a fan of this car but the review reads as if it were written by someone determined to dislike the car and dismiss it in as few words as possible. Are you saying, however indirectly, that the ride and the noise suppression are great? If so, isn't that desirable? Are you saying that Audi have built a 100K car with bad brakes?

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