By KBB.com Editors
Audi's approach to luxury and performance takes a decidedly subtle route, choosing to impress with substance and style rather than flash and shameless self-promotion. Nowhere is this philosophy more evident than in the 2013 Audi A8, a luxury sedan of impeccable tailoring and sophistication but with a low-key attitude. Compared to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class or BMW 7 Series, the A8 seems almost demure. That is, until you get behind the wheel and unleash the power from any one of the A8's three available engine choices, including a 500-horsepower W12. In addition to the luxury side of the A8, there is a new performance sedan for 2013, the S8, which displays a bit more aggression and lot more fun-to-drive attitude.
If your definition of luxury means an interior that looks as if it were custom-built by the finest artisans just for you, you'll be more than pleased with what Audi has created inside the 2013 A8 luxury sedan. The choices of leather, wood and soft-touch trim pieces fall together in a way unmatched by cars costing twice as much.
While a 500-horsepower W12 engine is more than enough to scoot the A8 to freeway speeds in less than five seconds, the overall driving feel of the car is not as visceral as the BMW 7 Series. The new S8 helps close the gap, but we still give the edge to the 7 Series.
For 2013, the Audi expands the A8 lineup to four trims: a 3.0T V6, 4.0T V8, S8 and W12. The twin-turbocharged V8 is more powerful than the outgoing 4.2-liter V8 it replaces, and the 3.0T creates a new lower price point for the A8 without sacrificing power or standard-equipment levels. New features include a hands-free trunk release and top and corner-view cameras.
Driving Impressions The 2013 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 (AWD), and an 8-speed transmission with well-spaced gear ratios, the S8 felt just at home on a racetrack 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. 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-sports-sedan enthusiasts will celebrate the 2013 Audi S8's introduction. 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.
For 2013, Audi's A8 comes standard with Valetta leather and can be outfitted with Valcona or Nappa leather depending on which package box is ticked. The heat/vent/air-conditioning and radio controls on the dash are elegantly displayed and logically placed, and the MMI touch pad 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 AWD system, 8-speed automatic transmission, adaptive air suspension, a Bose sound system, directionally adaptive headlights, and the MMI interface. The 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.
For 2013, 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 2013 Audi A8 is offered with three different powerplants – a supercharged V6 with start/stop technology, a twin-turbocharged V8 with on-demand cylinder deactivation and a W12. All three are mated to an 8-speed Tiptronic transmission that sends power to all four wheels via Audi's Quattro AWD 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.
3.0-liter supercharged V6
333 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
325 lb-ft of torque @ 2,900 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/28 mpg
4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8
420 horsepower @ 5,000 rpm
444 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/28 mpg, 16/26 mpg (long wheelbase)
500 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
463 lb-ft of torque @ 4,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/21 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: 15/26 mpg
The 2013 Audi A8 has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just over $73,000 for the 3.0T, and jumping close to $80,000 for the long-wheelbase model. The visceral feeling of a W12 comes at a pretty penny as that trim level carries a price tag of around $138,000, and checking off all the option boxes elevates it to around $145,000. The performance-oriented S8 starts just over $110,000. 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 KBB 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 and S8 to hold values on par with both the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and the BMW 7 Series.