By Joe Santos
Audi flies under the radar in every segment that it competes because the subtle elegance of all of their models belies what's on the inside and under the hood. One grand example of this is the 2012 Audi A8 sedan, which competes with the likes of Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Lexus LS, Jaguar XJ and the BMW 7 Series. The Audi A8 faintly edges its way into the luxury sedan group by offering a host of tech-savvy luxuries and potent engine choices. There are two A8 models to choose from – normal (A8) and long-wheelbase (A8L) – as well as the specialized, sportier 2013 S8 (coming this fall) that boasts a new twin-turbocharged V8 engine.
The Audi A8's interior provides a more tactile feel over its competitors. With real aluminum trim pieces, and available walnut inlays and Valcona leather, the A8 puts the premium in "premium luxury."
While a 500-horsepower W12 engine is more than enough to scoot the A8 to freeway speeds in less than 5 seconds, the overall driving feel of the car is not as visceral as the BMW 7 Series.
For the 2012 model year, the Audi A8 is available with a selection of new interior packages as well as Audi connect with Google Earth-view maps. The high-performance 2013 S8 variant differs itself from the rest of the A8 sedans by offering sporty interior touches and a new twin-turbo V8 engine, which replaces the V10 that was offered in the previous S8.
Driving Impressions The 2012 Audi A8 offers a fine balance between a luxury cruiser and sports car when driven. The adaptive air suspension provides an overall comfortable ride but isn't afraid to...get the job done when pushed hard into a tight corner. And having enough is never a concern considering the potent V8 and W12 engine choices. However, we've also spent a deliciously good deal of time behind the wheel of the 2013 S8, which has a stiffer suspension setup than the A8 and a twin-turbo V8 under the hood. With 520 horsepower on tap, precise steering, Quattro all-wheel drive, and an 8-speed transmission with well-spaced gear ratios, the S8 felt just at home on a race track as it did on normal city roads.
Audi's MMI touch can easily be considered one of the best driver-to-car interfaces on the market. In order to select a destination or queue up an alphabetical category in your song collection, just draw the characters with your finger on the touch-pad.
TWIN-TURBO 4.0-LITER V8 ENGINE
Luxury sport-sedan enthusiasts will celebrate in fall of 2012 when the 2013 Audi S8 arrives. The S8 roars to life with an all-new twin-turbo V8 that is a work of art. With 520 horsepower on tap, it's enough to get the 4,300-pound car to 60 mph in less than five seconds.
As far as interiors go in the full-size luxury sedan segment, the 2012 Audi A8 comes second to none in terms of feel, fit and finish. The A8 comes standard with Valetta leather and can be outfitted with Valcona or Nappa leather depending on which package box is ticked. The HVAC and radio controls on the dash are elegantly displayed and logically placed and the MMI touchpad is intuitively located for the driver's convenience. To top things off, every button and knob offers some operational resistance, which is a telltale sign of impeccable attention to detail. The 2013 S8 has largely the same interior with the exception of a few minor details such as carbon paddle shifters, real carbon-fiber dash inserts, and a few well-placed S8 badges.Exterior
There's no mistaking the distinctive LED strip underneath the headlights of any new Audi model, and the A8 is no exception. These unique daytime-running lights rely solely on LED clusters for illumination and flank the large trapezoidal grille that takes up most of the real estate on the car's front fascia. These visual enhancements alone are enough to delineate the A8 from the rest of the Audi line, not to mention its luxury competitors. There are sporty touches on the upcoming 2013 S8 that differentiate it from the A8, including an aluminum front lip spoiler and rear diffuser, as well as a twin-tip exhaust system.
The Audi A8 is the company's flagship model so as one might expect, it comes with a lot of the bells and whistles standard. Some of the most notable equipment includes Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system, 8-speed automatic transmission, adaptive air suspension, a BOSE sound system, directionally adaptive headlights, and the MMI interface. The 2012 A8 comes with 19-inch wheels as standard, but 20-inch wheels can be had for an extra cost. All of these features are standard on the 2013 S8 as well, and it gets 21-inch wheels.
The Audi A8 is available with a multitude of safety, audio and interior enhancements as optional equipment. For those looking for more stately rear seating, an Executive Rear Seating package can be applied to the long-wheelbase A8, which includes a rear-entertainment system, a fixed center console with a refrigerator, seat massagers, and integrated footrests. For safety, options include lane assist, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and Audi Night Vision Assistant with pedestrian-detection and highlighting capability. And for the audiophiles, a Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound system with 19 speakers and over 1,000 watts of power is on the options list to suit their auditory needs.
The 2012 Audi A8 is offered with two different powerplants – a V8 and a W12 – and both are mated to an 8-speed Tiptronic transmission which sends power to all four wheels via Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system. The 2013 S8 forgoes the V10 it once had in favor of a lighter, more-powerful twin-turbo V8 that produces 520-horsepower and propels the large luxury cruiser to 60 mph in just over four seconds.
372 horsepower @ 6,800 rpm
328 lb-ft of torque @ 3,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/28 mpg
500 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
463 lb-ft of torque @ 4,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/21 mpg
4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8
520 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
479 lb-ft of torque @ 1,700 - 5,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A
The MSRP (Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price) for a 2012 Audi A8 is just under $80,000, while those looking to haul long-legged passengers will have to shell out around $5,000 more for the A8L. The visceral feeling of a W12 comes at a pretty penny as that trim level carries a price tag of around $135,000, and checking off all the option boxes elevates it to around $145,000. By comparison, the BMW 7 Series carries a lower price tag by a few thousand across its trim levels and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class comes in a little higher. Be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price to make sure you're getting the best deal on your A8. As far as resale values go, we expect the 2012 Audi A8 to hold values on par with both the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and the BMW 7 Series. Expect to see pricing for the 2013 Audi S8 sports sedan a little closer to its release in fall, 2012.
By Audi Truth In Engineering (GA) on Sunday, April 28, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 700overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "ONCE YOU HAVE IT, NOTHING CAN BE BETTER!!!!"
Cons: "MAKES ITS COMPETITORS RUN FOR THEIR MONEY!!!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have just bought my Audi A8L! The car is just phenomenal and super luxurious! It has all the features, technology, and design that screams luxury! Bird-eye-view camera with all possible angles of the car from any corner. 22 way seat adjustments with massage capability. A cabin that soothes your every sense making you feel in ecstatic state of mind with led lighting the entire car at night and with selection of three different color variations. The craftsmanship of the interior would be more than enough to buy the car but Audi didn't stop there-they introduced an exterior design with perhaps the best looking face a luxury sedan to date. Everywhere I take this car, it always gets noticed and people take there last chance to see it before it disappears. The car has a built in Wifi that can connect up to eight devices and especially a great feature for long drives with friends! Ventilated and heat seats are great as well! In short, it is the luxury sedan made for the person who knows what true luxury is! For people who have considered other luxury brands for their super luxury sedan, give Audi a chance and you will know what I'm talking about. This car is youthful, elegant, sophisticated, and most of all, the pinnacle of what a luxury car is all about! Experience it and be prepared to be dazzled!!!"
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By CarEnthusiast (PA) on Saturday, February 16, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 23,650overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Luxurious, sporty, fun to drive and reliable"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I own an Audi A8L which I have been driving for about 7 months and I constantly get heads turning and inquiries, especially from men. This is my third Audi, first was an Audi 100, then Audi A6. This is by far the best of the lot and has a price tag to match. I think it is worth every penny as you can easily drive these cars up to 200,000 miles or more with the same engine and transmission if properly maintained. I also own a Mercedes E320 which I love, but the Audi is more luxurious and special. Once you test drive this car, you will not want to get out and drive anything else. You won't see many on the road here in the U.S., so you really will feel unique driving one. By the way, this is the #1 selling super luxury car in Europe and China, compared to others in it's class, the Mercedes S class, BMW 7 series and Lexus."
3 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By BigBadBill (KY) on Friday, October 12, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 200overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "A blast to drive. Gas mileage. Great"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Nothing even came close. Mercedes, Jag, BMW. Drove all three. Audi was the only choice for me. I'm a big guy traded Escalade esv. Has more room front and back."
7 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By A VIII (Michigan) on Monday, April 18, 2011
overall rating 10 of 10rating details
"I took deliver of my 2011 A8L four months ago. After driving a BMW750 Li, Benz SL550, I chose the Audi. The car is a value when you compare it to the aforementioned vehicles. This car is beautiful and the interior is elegant. Not many on the road, so you get a lot of people taking a second look at it. Many gadgets to play with on this car. No problem with this car so far and I don't expect many as AUDI stands behind their product. IPhone sync's well with the Bluetooth."
31 people out of 34 found this review helpful
By steve (New york) on Friday, January 21, 2011
overall rating 5 of 10rating details
"Poor quality, with many tiny problems here and there... among other problems, transmission, engine and electronic problems..."
16 people out of 37 found this review helpful
By peanut (Muskegon, Mi) on Saturday, November 06, 2010
overall rating 7 of 10rating details
"The Audi a8 does everythig I could ever want or need a car to do. Love not seeing myself at every stoploght like I do the Benzs, Jags, Lexus cars. Can't wait to get my hands on the 2011 !!!!!"
6 people out of 12 found this review helpful