Lower-powered versions of luxury saloons are often the most neglected. The point of view of the chooser, usually a top manager, is easy to understand: if his company will pay for a Ritzmobile, why not choose the one with the biggest inventory of smockets and frippets?
Well, biggest is not always best, as shown by the new entry-level Audi A8, the 3.0 V6 Multitronic. In its basic but well-equipped state it costs £46,175; that’s around £9000 less than the most powerful 4.2-litre V8 versions, and £13,000 less than the various long-wheelbase versions. And here’s the key point: when you drive the A8 V6 you don’t feel as if you’re missing anything.
The 3.0-litre V6 pumps out a thoroughly decent 217bhp at 6300rpm, more than enough to punt you along briskly (top speed 150mph; 0-60mph 7.9 seconds). And how does a real-world average of 26-28mpg sound?
More important, the V6 is powerful enough to waft you along as effortlessly as a limo should, not least because this is the lightest A8, weighing just 1680kg unladen. That makes it 200-600kg lighter than all rivals except Jaguar’s XJ.
The A8 V6 feels smooth, refined, sophisticated and thoroughly limo-like, aided by the fact that it puts its power through a continuously variable transmission called Multitronic that ensures the car is invariably in the right gear for the job.