On first acquaintance, the Audi A8 presents a well ordered, high-quality and businesslike environment to the prospective punter. There’s glossily polished wood in here and brushed aluminium, as you’d expect. But the closer you look, the more bewildering it becomes. There is so much to try to understand as you delve into the capabilities of not just the navigation, entertainment, information and communications systems but also options like the sports seats.
As it is, the A8 is easy enough to operate at a fundamental level. The driving position is pretty much whatever you want and all-round visibility better than you’d expect, given the pillar thickness that usually comes with aluminium cars. But there is so much here to learn.
Nor is this the most spacious of luxury cabins, even taking into account the long-wheelbase version. The rear seat package, in particular, is surprisingly tight for tall adults, with barely adequate head room and marginal knee room, although at least there is good space under the front seats for your feet to rest comfortably. Likewise, it seems strange that a car this large should have such a relatively small boot.
But it is the ambience of the interior that will play such an important role in the long-term success of the A8, and the way it marries technological know-how with traditional materials so comfortably merits special praise.
A pity for Audi, then, that Jaguar’s XJ has moved the goalposts to the other side of the field, before BMW and Mercedes-Benz decided to pick them up and take them with them. For all of its comfort and luxury, the A8 interior still feels like a place where you pass the time waiting to be somewhere you’d rather be. It's rivals interiors are destinations in themselves, cabins you might actually not want to leave
Expect the A8 to come with a wealth of standard equipment, especially as it has had its mid-life facelift, but also expect the options list to be extensive and expensive. There are three key trims - SE Executive, Sport and Black Edition, with the entry-level trim the only one available on the long-wheelbase versions.
SE Executive A8s come with adaptive air suspension, 18in alloy wheels, a sports differential, LED headlights, parking sensors, reversing camera, double-galzing and cruise control as standard on the outside, while inside there is Valcona leather upholstery, 22-way electrically adjustable and heated front seats, climate control, LED interior lighting, and Audi's MMI infotainment system complete with an 8.0in display, sat nav, DAB radio, Bluetooth, media player connectivity and 20GB of HDD space. If you opt for the long-wheelbase model then you'll find outer heated rear seats, 4-zone climate control, and a sunroof included in the package.