By Joe Santos - Updated Date: 6/4/2012
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.You'll Like This Car If...
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."You May Not Like This Car If...
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.What's New for 2012
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 It 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.Favorite Features
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.Notable Standard Equipment
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.Notable Optional Equipment
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.Under the Hood
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.