From £55,700
Six into Eight fits just fine

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

27 April 2004

Audi’s A8 TDi V8 was one of our office favourites last year. We loved its style, titanic torque and peerless build quality, and fought among ourselves for the keys whenever the opportunity arose. Nevertheless, affection didn’t blind us: in our group test the Audi suffered precisely because of the V8’s drawbacks in terms of list price, handling, frugality and emissions relative to the six-cylinder opposition. Choosing the V8 TDi meant putting heart before head.

Now there’s an A8 with the Audi’s ‘new generation’ 3.0-litre TDi unit. Also available in the new A6, the twin inter-cooled turbo V6 features common-rail technology with piezo injectors that allow fine control of the fuel delivery – improving power (230bhp) and economy while cutting diesel clatter.

Refinement is immediately apparent: from outside it’s hushed at idle, and inside, whether murmuring on part throttle or smoothly spinning to its red line, the V6 is a sophisticate. Performance is more than adequate: Audi claims 0-60mph in 7.8sec, and 332lb ft of torque means the step-off to 30mph is performed with authoritative ease.

The lighter engine has allowed Audi to fettle the air suspension, and the result is an improvement in ride quality – the A8’s main weak point. Although it still can’t match the serenity of the Mercedes S-class, the nagging intrusion of surface detail imperfections that blight the eight-cylinder car is reduced. Without the anchor-like iron V8 slung out front, the A8 is more resistant to understeer and keener to change direction. Lifeless steering still denies it genuine sporting status but it responds well to smooth, accurate driving, shrinking around the driver in the process.

With improved fuel economy over the V8 (32.8mpg versus 28.8) and cleaner emissions (231g/km and Euro4 compliance), the V6 should keep you on friendlier terms with your accountant. Those in the 40 per cent tax bracket can expect to pay £537 pcm – the same as for a BMW 730d, if more than for a Merc S320CDi.

At £47,380 the 3.0-litre TDi is a bargain compared with the £58,600 V8 TDi. That it is also the nicest A8 to drive means this time, heart and head can be satisfied.

Adam Towler

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    23 March 2018
    Fully-loaded, big-hitting diesel CLS shows the potential perils of ticking too many options boxes on your order form. A good car with a bad suspension combination.
  • BMW M5
    First Drive
    22 March 2018
    Super saloon deploys four-wheel drive to improve every facet of its driving experience. Faster and more capable than any, and more exciting than most, of its celebrated predecessors
  • Range Rover Sport SVR
    First Drive
    22 March 2018
    More power and an intoxicating soundtrack have breathed new life into our love affair with the biggest, baddest Range Rover Sport variant
  • First Drive
    21 March 2018
    The new Vantage has been developed as a Porsche 911 beater, and our first taste on UK roads suggests it can live up to that bold claim
  • Nissan Leaf Tekna
    The is the new Nissan Leaf
    First Drive
    21 March 2018
    The new version of the world's best-selling electric car gains a bigger battery and more power. How does it compare to rivals such as the Volkswagen e-Golf?