Test Drive: Audi A8

Audi A8

Yes… it’s as fast as it looks!
(Photos: Jack Kazmierski)

A Top Pick for Top Execs!

DRIVING IMPRESSIONS: Absolutely incredible!! That’s the only way to describe the 2016 Audi A8. If the executives in the corner office are asking you, the fleet manager, to recommend a vehicle that’s luxurious, a thrill to drive, a delight on long road trips, technologically advanced, or a combination of all of the above, the A8 absolutely must be on your short list of vehicles to consider.

Although the A8 has always been a leading contender for executives looking for luxury and performance, Audi’s flagship sedan is better than ever for 2016 thanks to a number of upgrades. The 4.0L TFSI-equipped model we had the pleasure of piloting for a week was decorated with S line sport front and rear bumpers (new for 2016). They give the A8 a more athletic presence, which is perfect since the powerplant under the hood is very much the heart of this true athlete.

The turbocharged 4.0L V8 pumps out a generous 450 hp, along with a neck-snapping 444 lb-ft of torque that peaks at a mere 1,500. What that means in the real world, is that when you mash the throttle, the A8 moves out from underneath you, shoving you into your seat with the conviction of a WWE fighter. One of the passengers we had on board thought we had been rear-ended by another vehicle when I mashed the throttle during an evasive maneuver. That’s how sudden the acceleration can be, when need be.

Put the A8 into “Sport” mode (with the push of a button), and the performance factor is multiplied exponentially as the A8 responds almost instantly to the driver’s every whim. And thanks to Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system, the A8 never misses a beat, regardless of the weather.

The civilized side of the A8

Of course, the above is but one-half of the A8’s dual personality. This delightful sedan is a top performer when need be, but it can just as easily morph into a luxury sedan that coddles its occupants within a quiet, comfortable and civilized cabin. At the push of a button the suspension goes from “Sport” to “Comfort” mode, effortlessly absorbing all the bumps and irregularities of the road beneath.

Our tester came equipped with dual pane glass, which makes the interior a bit quieter and more civilized than usual, and once we entered “Comfort” mode, the suspension became much more forgiving, the throttle a bit less eager, and the steering wheel a touch more relaxed. Perfect for long road trips, or for miserable traffic.

The optional ($7,000) Bang & Olufsen sound system, complete with 19 speakers, provides the perfect ambiance, while little extras, like the head-up display (part of the optional Driver Assistance Package), allows the driver to focus on the road, without having to monitor gauges below the line of sight.

Broad range of possibilities

Audi’s A8 lineup offers executives an intoxicating combination of performance and luxury, available in a broad range of flavours. For example, if you prefer a bit more legroom for rear seat passengers, the A8L (for “Long” wheelbase) might be more fitting. Want a bit (or a lot) more power and performance? The S8 version offer 520 hp, while the “S8 plus” pumps out 605.

You can also opt for the over-the-top A8L W12, complete with a 12-cylinder powerplant and oodles of options and amenities. The point is, whatever your executives desire, Audi’s A8 family has a vehicle that can quench even the most demanding thirst for first-class motoring.

VEHICLE: 2016 Audi A8

PRICE: Starting at $85,300

PRICE AS TESTED: $118,200

ENGINE OPTIONS: 3.0 TFSI, 4.0 TFSI

TRANSMISSION: 8-speed Tiptronic

ENGINE/TRANSMISSION (AS TESTED): 4.0 TFSI, 8 CYL / 8-speed Tiptronic

NOTEWORTHY FEATURES ON TEST VEHICLE: S line sport front and rear bumpers (new for 2016), Bang & Olufsen sound system

FUEL ECONOMY (ADVERTISED): 12.9 L/100 km (city), 8.0 L/100 km (hwy)

FUEL ECONOMY (AS TESTED): 12.4 L/100 km (combined)

COMPETITION: BMW 7 Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class

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