The A8 is Audi's flagship sedan, and it makes a strong case for the manufacturer's gift for crafting exquisitely realized luxury vehicles. Introduced in 1997, the A8 is currently in its third generation, and it's known for offering ample features and refinement at a comparatively reasonable price.
2011 to Present: Audi A8
The A8's current generation hit the market in 2011. It separates itself from its predecessor by being longer and wider, and it rides closer to the ground. One unique aspect of A8 is its aluminum construction, and this gives it a curb weight that's unusually light for a full-size luxury sedan. Initially, both standard and extended-wheelbase versions were available.
Audi's A8 provides seating for five passengers. All-wheel drive is standard, and all models utilize an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The A8 greets its admirers with a broad, square-jawed front fascia dominated by a massive trapezoidal grille. Deep character lines sculpt the sedan's sheet metal, while alloy wheels serve as a bridge between car and pavement.
Within its cabin, the A8 offers testimony to Audi's impressive knack for creating an impeccably luxurious environment. The design cues are tasteful and plush, and materials quality is above reproach. Glossy wood and gleaming aluminum grace many of the cabin's surfaces. There is a wealth of legroom in both rows, especially in extended-wheelbase models.
With the A8, there's always a surplus of power underfoot, and its standard all-wheel drive keeps the sedan secure in rain and snow. This is undoubtedly a big car, but it feels much smaller and tidier than you'd expect when you're behind the wheel. The earliest A8 models from the current generation are motivated by a 4.2-liter V8 that generates 372 horsepower.
Base models entice with standard features such as adaptive air suspension, a sunroof, a navigation system, leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, Bluetooth connectivity, dual-zone climate control and a surround-sound audio system. Available upgrades include 20-inch wheels, a dual-screen DVD entertainment system, four-zone climate control and a Bang & Olufsen premium sound system.
For the 2012 model year, the A8 introduced the range-topping 6.3 L trim, which was motivated by a 500-horsepower 12-cylinder engine. In 2013, the 4.2-liter V8 was replaced with a supercharged V6 offering 333 horsepower, and a turbocharged 420-horsepower V8 joined the lineup.
In 2014, a turbocharged diesel V6 was added, and it produces 240 horsepower. All A8s added keyless ignition and a power-operated trunk lid as standard equipment.
The 2015 model year saw the A8 benefiting from revised front-end styling, and LED headlights became standard. Lane-keeping assist and a head-up display were added, and the V8 engine got an output increase of 15 horsepower.
For 2016, the standard-wheelbase A8 was dropped, and the extended-wheelbase version became the only choice offered. Dual-pane acoustic glass became standard, and extended leather coverage was added to the cabin. Also, upgraded 4G LTE Wi-Fi was introduced.
The 2017 model year also saw the suspension of the diesel and 12-cylinder engines.
The Audi A8 runs with a crowd that includes the BMW 7 Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Jaguar XJ, Lincoln Continental, Genesis G90 and Porsche Panamera. The A8 stands out by offering genuine Germanic quality and refinement at a relatively reasonable price.
Earlier Audi A8 Models
The A8's first generation was introduced in 1997, and it's offered with a choice of front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. Both a 3.7-liter V8 and a 4.2-liter V8 are available, and all models are governed by a five-speed automatic transmission. Standard features include leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, driver memory settings and a power sunroof.
The second generation of the Audi A8 was on the market from 2004 to 2010. Its base engine is a 4.2-liter V8 good for up to 350 horsepower, and both a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive are standard. A 12-cylinder engine was available from 2005 to 2009, and it offers 450 horsepower. Standard features include xenon headlights, cruise control, leather upholstery and heated sideview mirrors.