Audi's popular Q5 gets its first major overhaul this year, introducing an evolutionary look that hides the latest tech and engineering from Germany's premium all-wheel-drive specialists.
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2018 Audi A8 Overview
What's New for 2018
Audi has consolidated most of the 3.0T's options into the available Executive Package, which now includes adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, and upgraded leather upholstery. Those items are now standard on 4.0T, and most remaining options have been combined into the new Executive Plus package. Audi has raised the base price of the 4.0T from $92,475 (including $975 in destination charges) to $92,975.
Choosing Your Audi A8
All Audi A8 models wear the L designation, to identify their 122.9-inch wheelbase – the short-wheelbase A8 was discontinued two years ago. The standard supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine delivers 333 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. Buyers seeking exceptional performance can opt for a turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 with 450 horsepower and 444 lb-ft of torque. Surprisingly, both engines are EPA-rated at 29 miles per gallon on the highway, and the V6 has just a slight advantage in the city, 19 mpg versus 18 mpg with the V8.
Both engines work with an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive, while a standard adaptive air suspension keeps things comfy.
Trims levels correspond to engine choice:
Both models are eligible for a Black Optic Package ($1,000) with gloss black exterior trim and 20-inch titanium-finish wheels (21-inch available for $950 extra).
The 3.0T's Executive Package is more expensive this year due to its added content. Although the price seems steep, it essentially replaces all of last year's packages, so you'll actually pay a bit less for a fully loaded model. As for the 4.0T, its new Executive Plus Package only makes sense if you intend to carry rear passengers on a regular basis.
2018 Audi A8 Review
The full-size 2018 Audi A8 flies the brand’s flag high. It's an elegant sedan with the power and high-end amenities to match. When outfitted with an available V8 engine and rear seat executive trim, the A8 proves its worth. But prices can climb quickly, easily reaching six figures when fully equipped.
The 2018 Audi A8 is a full-size luxury sedan with room for five and has standard all-wheel drive. Audi provides a standard supercharged V6 or a turbocharged V8 engine and pairs both with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Every model comes well equipped, offering such features as a full-leather interior, heated front seats, navigation, a Bose audio system, and a sophisticated interface. The current A8 is actually the long-wheelbase version, which was previously known as the A8 L.
- Model: 2018 Audi A8 3.0T
- Engine: 3.0-liter supercharged V6
- Output: 333 hp / 325 lb-ft
- Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
- Drivetrain: All-wheel drive
- Fuel Economy: 19 City / 29 Hwy
- Options: Executive Package ($9,150, high beam assist, 20-inch, five-spoke-blade-design wheels, a panoramic sunroof, a surround-view camera system, 22-way power and heated front comfort sport seats, ventilated and massaging front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, a head-up display, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, lane change assist, and a rear-seat pass-through)
- Base Price: $83,475 (including a $975 destination charge)
- Best Value Price: $92,625
No matter which engine you choose, you’ll find generous power at the ready. We selected the standard 3.0-liter supercharged V6 engine, as it's more than capable to move this large sedan with authority. The twin-turbocharged V8 is certainly enticing, but most people may find it superfluous and costly.
In any event, the standard engine makes 333 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque, good enough to move this lightweight sedan from zero to 60 mph in just 5.5 seconds. The eight-speed automatic transmission does its best to keep up with this engine, working nearly seamlessly in the background. We found the A8 light and agile.
Working in this sedan’s favor is the brand’s laudable all-wheel-drive system, dubbed Quattro. It splits power at a 40/60 ratio front to back, but it can also send up to 60 percent of its power to the front axle, when needed. If driving dynamics are important to you, an available Sport Package adds a rear sport differential, a variable ratio steering rack, an air suspension, and summer tires.
All models have Drive Select, an electronically controlled system that oversees engine and transmission responses, suspension feel, and steering weight. Choose between Comfort, Auto, and Dynamic modes to find the level of driving engagement that suits you best. Select the driving engagement you want, but you should know that the electric power steering rack tempers driving enjoyment somewhat.
The 2018 Audi A8 has a handsome yet conservative design. However, the look has aged and its competitors have newer designs. We like the A8’s drawn-out shoulders and elegant LED headlights, but beyond that, the canvas simply blends in.
Step inside and the narrative changes dramatically. You can tell that Audi’s designers poured their hearts into the interior, with upscale materials everywhere. This means leather, wood, and aluminum are in abundance, yet are carefully applied throughout the cabin. The few soft plastics present simply blend in.
The cockpit is driver-centric and the front seats are quite comfortable. With the available Executive Package, the rear compartment may offer the most enjoyable seats in the cabin. With this arrangement, it has the look and feel of a limousine, German style.
The Best and Worst Things
We’re glad that Audi made the long wheelbase standard with the A8. Even without the Executive Package, the rear compartment is amazingly comfortable and roomy. However, Audi is a step behind the competition when it comes to self-driving technology. We think this deficiency will be resolved when the all-new A8 debuts in 2019.
Right For? Wrong For?
Whether you have a chauffeur or not, the Audi A8 offers a level of comfort befitting a full-size luxury sedan. Consider this model if you want maximum comfort without sacrificing performance. On the other hand, the A8’s dated design may not be sufficient enough for everyone’s tastes. You can either wait for the new model or look closer at the competition from Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Genesis, or BMW.
The Bottom Line
The consumer market for full-size luxury sedans may be small and dwindling, but a market remains nevertheless. The 2018 Audi A8 hits all of the necessary highlights, while providing a comfortable ride and superior driving dynamics. It isn’t the most modern model in the segment, but that may not be enough to dissuade some shoppers from taking a closer look.
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