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?
It’s Audi’s newly revised A8, equipped with a 2.8-litre V6 engine, front-wheel drive and multitronic CVT transmission.
If that all sounds a little ordinary for the Ingolstadt manufacturer’s big saloon, it should do, because this is the base model. It does, however, emit just 199g/km of CO2, meaning that it will escape Red Ken’s £25 congestion charge. Most importantly, it offers a decent tax saving.
What’s it like?
The answer to this question depends on what you’re doing. If you’re accelerating, then all of Audi’s work on the revised A8 – much of it concentrated on noise damping – appears to have been futile. The blend of CVT and V6 results in free-spinning, high-revving engine noise that is harsh for something that costs a whisker under £50k.
On the other hand, once the A8 is up to motorway cruising speeds, it is near silent. There’s a smidgen of wind noise from somewhere around the top of the door frame, but that aside, Audi’s work on underbody cladding and suspension has paid dividends.
That said, the same applies to the 3.0 TDI diesel A8, and in all aspects bar company car tax it is a more attractive proposition than the 2.8 petrol. Its extra torque results in a driving experience that is both more rapid and more relaxed, and it costs only £1000 more than the 2.8 petrol.
All A8s, incidentally, have a decent basic spec now, including full leather upholstery, sat-nav, four-zone climate control and a Bose stereo system. The latter, in fact, is good enough to make the Bang & Olufsen upgrade – a cool £4500 option – seem like pure folly.
Should I buy one?
That’s the crucial question, isn’t it? If you’re asking if you, personally, should buy one, then the answer is no. For goodness’ sake, find the extra £1000 and buy a 3.0 TDI instead.
If, however, you recoil at the thought of every penny of company car tax you spend, then you could do far worse than recommend the 2.8 to your firm’s fleet manager. It is for situations like this that the 2.8 FSI A8 exists.