By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 8.2
Despite the fact that BMW and Mercedes-Benz have enjoyed a considerable head start in the field of large luxury sedans, the Audi A8 has proven it's a fast learner. When it comes to feature content, performance and prestige, the A8 holds its own against long-refined rivals like the BMW 7 Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Lexus LS. The 2014 Audi A8 receives a number of enhancements to keep pace with its posh competition, including a new diesel-powered TDI model that returns best-in-class fuel economy. Buyers may also choose between a standard wheelbase and long-wheelbase "L" versions, with the latter boasting an additional five inches of legroom. As for blending the highest levels of luxury and performance, you'd be hard pressed to do better than the 520-horsepower Audi S8.
The 2014 Audi A8 impresses with substance and style rather than glitz and glamour, making it the ideal pick for those who seek a sophisticated flagship sedan without the pretentious image.
While the A8 is certainly no slouch around corners, drivers looking for the most visceral driving experience in the category should explore the physics-defying BMW 7-Series. And if your idea of a flagship luxury sedan is dictated by unrestrained opulence, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class (available late 2013) might be the better option.
The 2014 A8 L is the latest addition to the ever expanding A8 lineup. Achieving an impressive EPA-estimated 24/36 city/highway rating, the A8 L TDI ushers in a new era of fuel efficiency to the full-size luxury segment. There are also several new option packages across the line.
Driving Impressions The Audi A8 offers a fine balance between a luxury cruiser and sports sedan. This dual personality is owed in large part to the adaptive air suspension, which delivers the...best of both worlds in terms of ride quality. With the push of a button, drivers can choose from a sofa-soft "Comfort" mode, performance-tuned "Dynamic" setting, or an "Automatic" mode that, as you may have guessed, automatically alters suspension damping to suit current driving conditions. The quattro all-wheel-drive (AWD) system must be lauded for giving the 2014 A8 a level of roadholding feel unmatched by its competition. Now available in a variety of Audi models, the new 3.0-liter turbodiesel signals a bright future for oil-burners, delivering a mountain of instant torque without the familiar agricultural noises at low engine speeds and idle.
TDI CLEAN DIESEL ENGINE
The A8 L TDI's turbodiesel powerplant packs hybrid-like fuel economy in a powerful yet user-friendly package. As a bonus, diesel engines have a longer life expectancy than traditional gasoline engines.
Audi's optional MMI Touch could easily be considered one of the best human-machine interfaces on the market. To select a navigation destination or summon an alphabetical category in a song collection, simply draw the characters with your finger on the touch pad.
The A8's cabin has the expected upscale atmosphere. Climate controls are logically placed on the center stack, and the MMI (multi-media interface) controller is surprisingly easy to use. Materials quality is nearly on par with the vaunted – and significantly more expensive – Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Out back, a spacious rear compartment and well-contoured seats provide limo-like comfort for rear passengers. To top things off, every button and knob offers some operational resistance, which is a telltale sign of impeccable attention to detail.Exterior
There's no mistaking the distinctive LED strip underneath the headlights of any new Audi model, and the A8 is no exception. Both the A8 and S8 feature Audi's signature – albeit oversized – trapezoidal grille, which occupies the majority of front-end real estate. The performance-oriented S8 is differentiated by twin-tip exhaust outlets and a bright silver-finished rear diffuser, front lip spoiler and mirrors. To reduce emissions and nitrous oxide levels, the 2014 A8 L TDI features an easily accessible diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) tank just beneath the trunk compartment.
Like most vehicles in this prestigious price range, the 2014 Audi A8 offers an impressive roster of standard features. Chief among them are adaptive xenon headlights that swivel in conjunction with the steering wheel, adaptive air suspension, 12-way adjustable front seats, a navigation system with an 8-inch pop-up display, a Bose audio system, and Audi Connect (Web-based applications, services and 3G Wi-Fi). When it comes to safety, the A8 L TDI offers ten airbags including rear seat side airbags, Quattro all-wheel-drive paired with a sea of electronic stability aids, and active front head restraints to help reduce the severity of whiplash injuries.
Highlights from the A8's lengthy list of available features include night vision control, a highly-recommended Bang & Olufsen sound system, a solar sunroof that provides power for the ventilation system when the vehicle is parked, and a rear seat entertainment system comprised of a DVD player and two 10-inch LCD screens. The Premium Package contains some of the most desirable options on the menu, such as full LED headlights and 22-way adjustable front seats complete with a 5-stage massage function.
Three gasoline-powered engines are available in the 2014 A8: a supercharged V6 with start/stop technology for improved fuel efficiency in city driving, a twin-turbocharged V8 with on-demand cylinder deactivation, and a W12. All three are mated to an 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission that sends power to all four wheels via Audi's quattro AWD system. The 2014 Audi S8 makes use of a twin-turbo V8 that produces 520 horsepower and enables a 0-to-60-mph sprint in just over four seconds. TDI models get their motivation from a 3.0-liter turbocharged diesel engine that churns out 240 horsepower and a heady 406 lb-ft of torque. Matched with the aforementioned 8-speed Tiptronic gearbox, the TDI accelerates to 60 in about 6.4-seconds, roughly 0.7 seconds slower than the standard supercharged V6.
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
3.0-liter turbodiesel V6
240 horsepower @ 3,750 rpm
406 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/36 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 2014 Audi A8 begins just over $75,000 and jumps to about $79,000 for the long-wheelbase version. The sporty S8 starts around $113,000, while the range-topping W12 opens at $140,000 and tops out just south of $160,000. The new Audi A8 L TDI starts just over $83,000 and cuts off in the neighborhood of $125,000 when fully-loaded. For comparison, the BMW 7 Series, Lexus LS and Jaguar XJ start in the mid-$70,000 range, with the current Mercedes-Benz S-Class commanding an almost $19,000 premium. To get the best deal on your Audi A8, take a look at KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price to see current transaction prices in your area. On the opposite side of the equation, we expect the 2014 A8 to hold resale values on par with the 7 Series and S-Class, but slightly below the values set by the Porsche Panamera and Lexus LS.