At least as much as any luxury automaker, Audi emphasizes technology: specifically, its driver-assistance features. For its largest model, the A8, that list includes adaptive cruise control with stop and go capability, active lane assist, night vision assistant (with animal detection), and secondary collision assist. A head-up display shows vehicle speed, navigation, and adaptive cruise control functions.
Imposing in appearance, an Audi A8 approaches the aura of the limousines of old.
What's New for 2016
Biggest news for 2016 is the A8 Sport, which puts Audi’s previous 4.0T into what the German automaker calls a “more athletic” package, featuring new sport-style exterior accents. Up front, revised bumpers hold sport air intakes in the lower section. The rear end gets an updated bumper and diffuser. Sport side sills also are included. Inside, the available Design Selection seating surfaces come in Vermont Brown leather and fine-grain ash wood inlays.
Choosing Your Audi A8
Facelifted for 2015, all A8 sedans are on Audi’s long-wheelbase platform for 2016. Only the high-performance S8 (listed separately) retains the shorter wheelbase. Each Audi A8 sedan has quattro all-wheel drive.
Models are differentiated by engine, and buyers get four choices: a 3-liter V6 (gas or diesel), 4-liter V8, or 6.3-liter W12. All versions have Audi’s Tiptronic eight-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is estimated at 19/29 mpg (city/highway) with the gasoline V6, but the diesel 3-liter raises those figures to 24 mpg city/36 mpg highway (28 mpg combined). With the 4-liter V8, mileage dips only slightly, to 18 mpg in city driving.
All you have to do is pick an engine. Few Audi shoppers are likely to opt for a 12-cylinder sedan, and the new A8 Sport emphasizes appearance details. Of the two V6 models, the TDI (diesel) promises effortless cruising, despite its lower horsepower rating, as well as fuel economy that reaches well past any of the other versions.
The stately reserved style of Audi’s powerful and efficient flagship sedan favors sophistication over flash.
Pricing and Equipment
The 2016 Audi A8 L is available with your choice of three different gasoline engines and an amazingly efficient turbo diesel that can span 800 miles on a single tank of fuel.
Dropping the shorter wheelbase from the line up, the A8’s extended-length L trim is now technically the vehicle’s "base" model, although the moniker retains the L modifier. Those desiring the shorter wheelbase will need to investigate the 2016 Audi S8, although the $114,900 price tag certainly lends credence to the old saying "sometimes less is more."
The 3-liter supercharged V6 gasoline-powered A8 L 3.0 TFSI starts at $81,500.
The 3-liter turbo-diesel V6-equipped A8 L 3.0 TDI starts at $85,200.
Performance enthusiasts will want to peek at the 450-horsepower twin-turbocharged 4-liter V8 equipped A8 L 4.0 TFSI Sport. Base pricing begins at $90,500.
Although we will not have time to take a closer look in this brief review, the glorious 500-horsepower 12-cylinder rocket (flag) ship A8 L W12 commands $137,900.
All vehicles are equipped with an eight-speed Triptronic automatic transmission with Quattro all-wheel-drive.
Audi’s full-size flagship sedan utilizes lightweight materials, like an aluminum space frame, to shed pounds. The lost weight equates to improved acceleration and fuel economy numbers that belie the A8’s horsepower and torque ratings, especially in the V6 models.
The base 3-liter supercharged V6 produces 333-horsepower and 325 pound feet of torque, which enables the sedan to achieve 19 mpg city, 29 mpg highway and 22mpg combined. Pedal to the floor and the A8 jumps from 0 to 60 mph in only 5.5 seconds.
If the power and efficiency of the gas powered 3-liter is newsworthy, Audi’s 3-liter turbo-diesel is the headliner. Sure, the diesel engine means you’re going to need almost a second longer to reach sixty miles per hour, but the 24 mpg city, 36 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined mean that you will make the time up at the fuel pump. The fuel economy of the A8 L 3.0 TDI may qualify the Audi as the thriftiest $85,200 car currently offered in the United States.
Enthusiasts will want to save up a little longer and invest in the brilliant new for 2016 450-horsepower Audi A8 L 4.0 TSIF Sport. Audi has yet to release the 0-to-60 figures, but based on the fact that the Sport will add 117 horsepower, I can’t help but imagine the engine will result in numbers that will complement the sportier exterior cues. Audi has released the gas mileage numbers and even with the additional power the A8 L Sport still achieves 18 mpg city, 29 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined, exactly the same numbers as the gasoline supercharged 3-liter. Again, Audi impresses.
Thanks to the Quattro All-Wheel-Drive and Audi’s sophisticated electronic steering and suspension, the A8 exhibits road manners typically reserved for smaller purpose-built sport sedans. The A8 isn't necessarily the Audi we'd pick if we were looking for a weekend track car to take to work, but we've found that the fun-to-drive full-size sedan holds its own on winding roads and in spirited highway passing situations while making no compromises in the comfort department.
There is very little not to like about the A8’s performance. If I’m going to be picky, I would mention the noisy, but fuel saving, start-stop function that makes a bit more racket that I’d like when it decides to fire the car back up at a quiet stop sign. Of course, there is an easy fix: tap the button to disengage the feature or turn up the brilliant audio system.
Premium unleaded fuel is required for the gasoline engines.
Awash in leather and fine woods, little rivals the exquisite fit and finish of the A8’s interior. Audi has built a reputation for assembling luxurious driver-oriented interiors and the flagship A8 L is the pinnacle of them all.
Audi’s interior design is often praised for exhibiting thoughtful restraint, but the A8 L rocks the boat by offering over-the-top luxury. The A8 L’s opulent technology-filled interior provides Audi with a strong competitor in the full-size luxury sedan segment, holding its own against Mercedes heralded S-Class and BMW’s celebrated 7 Series.
The standard 14-way adjustable front seats and the outrageously spacious rear seating, thanks to the extra-long wheelbase, means that everyone travels in luxury.
It is still unfashionable to live in your car, which wouldn't be all that bad if you owned the A8 L.
The Most Pleasant Surprise
It is hard to believe that a vehicle with so much acceleration-producing torque can travel 800 miles on a single tank of fuel.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
The A8 doesn't come cheaply -- and depreciation can be steep.
The Bottom Line
Very little rivals the performance, efficiency, comfort and safety technology of Audi's flagship A8 L sedan. Whether you opt for the base supercharged V6, the turbo-diesel V6, or the 450-horsepower V8, the A8 L offers exhilarating performance and great fuel economy while making no compromises in terms of comfort or luxury.