A couple of things became very clear the minute I sat down in the 2011 Audi A8:
1). It is one of the nicest luxury sedans I have ever been in, and
2). This could possibly be the most expensive review of my career, I don’t think I have ever been more tempted to rush out and buy a car.
I became an Audi fan some years ago. I love any car that at a glance you know what brand it is, but it was about 2005 when I really began to pay attention to, and appreciate what Audi was doing.
The full-sized luxury segment is my personal favorite, but I admit to enjoying large cars, and always have. There are so many good entries between Lexus, Mercedes, Jaguar, BMW, and others. It is a very close race for my favorite and I admit that the last one I drive is usually the winner….at least until the next one. But this third-generation A8 truly is a special car.
The Audi signature four rings adorn the massive grill of the A8 and shout AUDI at you from a long distance away. The unique lines of the car are stunning from every angle including the rear view. The exterior overall of the A8 stirs emotions power, speed, and luxury all at one time. My test car is black with a brown interior, which sounds odd I know, but trust me it works.
Under the hood, there is only one choice, the 4.2-liter V8 with 32 valves and dual over head cams. It is all-wheel drive and the engine is married to an 8-speed automatic transmission that shifts so smoothly you cannot feel it. The end result of all that is it produces 372-horses, and 328 lb-ft of torque. This provides the 4400-pound Audi flagship strong and steady acceleration from a dead stop.
The interior is as nice as any I have ever seen or been in, and the back seat is cavernous. Interior room for all five passengers is like being in the lobby of a Ritz Carlton.
I don’t even know where to start with the electronics in this car. They are much simpler than I recall from the last A8 I drove. The car has a $6300 Bang & Olufsen stereo system with 19-speakers, two of which pop up from the dash. It is like being at a concert every time you turn it on.
A screen pops up to let you see everything from the radio station presets to the climate control, to Bluetooth. As you would expect, the car has it all, including heated and cooled seats, back-up camera, automatic temperature air, power sunroof, rear shade, and way more than I could ever list, all that comes as standard.
One astounding feature on this car is called the Audi MMI. The central element of the MMI terminal is a control button that can be turned and pressed, with four control keys grouped around it. On either side of the terminal there are a total of eight function keys with which the main menus can be called up directly.
By about the coolest thing I have ever seen in any car is a touch pad located directly to the knob’s left, and it’s why the new system is now known as MMI Touch. The touch pad is mainly for entering addresses or points of interest into the navigation system, by writing naturally with your fingertip. You actually write letters or numbers with your finger and the system repeats the letter to make sure it is correct. It also acts as the map’s scrolling device and can control six preset buttons when the screen is showing the radio.
Options on this car include the previously mentioned sound system, a $2350 convenience package which includes power opening and closing trunk, keyless entry, and the Audi parking system. Another $2000 will get you more wood, and 22-way power seats that massage you, and $2600 more will make you see better with LED lights and look better with 20” wheels.
If there is a knock on the car, it’s the gearshift in the center console. It is driven electronically, not by linkage, and although smooth, I have yet to get the car in reverse the first time. It is a little annoying to be honest, but minor when you consider all the GREAT things about this car.
Being an Audi, it comes standard too with the Quattro system which gives every Audi a truly unique driving experience and incredible handling. The A8, although large, is no exception. It is not too floaty, but not too firm. It is, in my opinion, the exact right mix of both.
So far now, this is my all-time favorite luxury sedan. But admittedly, I don’t know how long it will be that way.
What I liked most: Exterior boldness, luxurious interior.
What I would change if I could: Give me 40 more horses and make the shifter easier to operate.
MSRP as tested: $93,525.
Fuel Economy: 17 city/27 highway, it EASILY does the 27 highway.
A8 coupe in a few words: Amazing car, worth selling your house for if necessary.