Audi took a big risk in bringing to New Zealand only the NZ$245,000 diesel-powered version of the new Flagship A8, which may well put the more conservative buyers off. However, they need not worry as when the engine is being pushed hard it sounds more like lusty V8 petrol than a turbodiesel, and only at idle from outside the car is it obvious that petrol does not power this car.
Audi A8 4.2 Liter V8 Turbodiesel
The 4.2 liter V8 produces 258kW and an impressive 800Nm of torque, which is enough, according to Audi, to accelerate the car from a standstill to 100km/h in just 5.5 seconds, which is very quick for any car, let alone a diesel-powered one. And because it’s powered by diesel the A8 has a claimed combined fuel economy of just 7.6L/100km.
Eight Speed Automatic
The eight-speed automatic gearbox can be operated manually, but the software is competent enough to just leave the gearbox in Drive most of the time and let the gearbox work out what the driver desires. The optional air suspension enables the driver to select Comfort, Automatic, Dynamic, or a further customized setting. It works well, as when Dynamic is selected the steering becomes detectably more direct and the car feels like it has turned into a smaller sports car rather than a plutocratic barge.
High Technology In A8
Fans of technology will be rapt with the Audi A8, as the driver is almost overcome with all the electronic functions. And for an extra NZ$5,700, a thermal imaging camera hidden in the grille can be optioned, which provides extra nighttime viewing distance. It can even be used during the day, an option which will interest anyone in the IT business. It is very much like one of those television police shows, as you can even see which parked cars in a line have recently been running as the wheels and exhaust systems still show up bright white on the screen.
Most of the functions in the A8 are controlled through Audi’s Multi-Media Interface, which remains much more intuitive than BMW’s often difficult-to-navigate iDrive system.
Select the navigation system in the A8 and a large screen slides up and out of the dashboard from behind a panel. There is a separate permanently located screen on the lower center console that shows the functions of the MMI and the driver can usually find their way through the many menus that come up. Those with less of a computing background may find this hard going though.
Both the driver’s and passenger’s seats are power-adjustable in almost every way possible, and also cooled and heated. The heat level is of course adjustable, but the A8 goes one step further, with the balance between seatback and cushion adjustable through the MMI. There is plenty of room in the rear of the A8, with sufficient leg and headroom for virtually anyone. Move further back, and due to the Quattro four-wheel-drive system and full-size spare tire, the boot is very shallow, quite possibly the smallest space in the market segment.
For the technology enthusiast, the Audi A8 can be optioned with almost anything, turning it into a technological tour de force. Only the lack of conventional petrol-powered A8 may put potential buyers off, but once behind the wheel, the sheer technological appeal of the car should be enough to convince the undecided.