What is it?
This test fills two holes in our experience with the new Audi A8 saloon: the first time we’ve tried the long wheelbase version which is just hitting UK showrooms. And the first go in one powered by the 246bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel that’s going to be under the bonnet of the bulk of the A8s sold here. An eight speed auto ‘box with stop-start is standard. Like other A8s this is four-wheel drive but there will also be a front-drive version powered by this engine coming along soon.
What’s it like?
Let’s deal with the extra inches first. This A8 has 130mm extra metal in both the wheelbase and body, all of it directed into creating more rear passenger space.
It’s effective too. One of my principle criticisms of the ‘short’ version that I ran for six months was that the rear quarters were far too cramped for a limo, with the suspicion being that in order to create handsome coupe-like styling the designers had been forced to move the rear bench forward, restricting knee clearance. No such problems in this version though as there’s now plenty of lounging room and it’s easier to climb in too. To these eyes at least, it hasn’t affected the styling either.
The 3.0-litre TDi does a good job of whooshing your more pampered passengers about too. Of course it doesn’t have the almost indecent pace of the V8 diesel we’ve got plenty of experience of. But it’s brisk even from start off and just as smooth and free-revving as in other Audis where its a mainstay of the range.
It also feels just as agile as the shorter car, even if it’s still some way short of the Jaguar XJ. It’s not as supple as the Merc S-class either, although the 19-inch wheels on our test car go some way to bridging the gap and deliver a softer experience than the 20-inchers fitted to our long term test car.
Should I buy one?
There are sound economic arguments for the smaller diesel. Spec for spec you save just over £7000 on the purchase price, but, of more concern to you probably is the thousands you’ll save in company car tax and likely depreciation. Fuel consumption plays 42.8mpg to 37.2mpg but in the real world the gap is likely to be wider.