First DriveUK drive confirms that this facelift improves the A8, but doesn’t make it a class leader
First DriveThis third-generation luxury saloon offers mild styling changes and a new suspension set-up, but the big Audi fails to keep pace with its rivals
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