Audi A8 Review
The Audi A8 is a comfortable luxury limo with powerful engines and a classy, spacious interior. That said, its touchscreen infotainment system is a pain to use when driving.
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- Superb interior
- Comfortable ride
- Massive rear space
What's not so good
- Infotainment hard to use when driving
- Only two engine choices
- Clever kit costs extra
Audi A8: what would you like to read next?
When it comes to interior design, the Audi A8 has alternatives – such as the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes S-Class – well and truly licked. Everything you see and touch in the A8 feels posh – all models get leather upholstery and expensive-feeling trim pieces, and instead of conventional dials you get a high-resolution 12.3-inch display Audi calls its Virtual Cockpit.
If you like the sound of that then you’ll love the two huge infotainment screens that are stacked on top of each other in the centre of the A8’s dash. They’re bursting with colours and have beautifully detailed 3D maps. The only (rather large) fly in the ointment is that they’re not particularly easy to use on the move.
In a car like the A8 though, who cares – you’ll likely be getting driven. In which case you can forget about the awkward infotainment screens and focus instead on the acres of rear legroom. If you need even more room, A8L models are longer than the regular A8 and are available with Audi’s Relaxation Seats that have a footrest and a massage function.
Mind you, even the driver can relax in the A8. It’s available with clever autonomous driving tech that means the car can drive itself at speeds of up 37mph. Theoretically, you can watch the onboard TV while the car handles the driving. Sounds good, but unfortunately UK law means it can’t be used to its full potential just yet – you still have to hold onto the wheel.
The rest of the A8’s tech is super helpful, though. The optional Dynamic Steering makes the big A8 very manoeuvrable in town and the Predictive Active Suspension can spot and react to bumps to smooth out your journey.
The latter even makes the A8 safer in side impacts – raising the body so that its tough floor takes the hit if you get T-boned.
The Audi A8 has more gadgets than a flagship iStore
Whatever A8 you choose you can be sure you’ll have plenty of power, although there are only two engines available. The 340hp 3.0-litre petrol is smooth, fast and makes the most sense if you’ll use your A8 mostly in town. The 286hp 3.0-litre diesel meanwhile, is better on fuel and feels every bit as quick on motorways, where it’s at its best.
And gobblings up huge mileages while carrying its passengers in maximum comfort is exactly what the A8’s supposed to do – if you’re looking for a posh luxury car then it has got to be near the top of your shopping list.
The Audi A8 may be best enjoyed from the rear seats. You can really stretch out, and there’s still plenty of room for your luggage.
Even a giraffe wouldn’t struggle for legroom in the back of the A8 – it’s enormous
Getting comfortable behind the wheel of an Audi A8 is dead easy. The steering wheel itself adjusts up-and-down and in-and-out electrically, and the driver’s seat also moves electrically for height. Lumbar support is standard and both front seats are cooled and heated.
All A8s have enough space for tall passengers in the back, but if you want loads of room the longer A8L’s extra legroom means you can literally stretch your legs right out.
A8Ls are available with optional massaging Relaxation Seats. They recline to help you stretch out on a long journey, have a footrest that pops out from the backs of the front seats and, for a heap of extra legroom, also have a button for sliding the front passenger seat forward. All this is controlled by a removable iPad-style display that looks ultra cool.
The Audi A8 has lots of interior space that helps you keep its smart cabin looking tidy.
All the door bins are big enough to take two bottles of water and you get a large cubby under the front centre armrest that’s a great place to hide your smartphone. The only disappointment is the tiny glovebox that’s smaller than you get in either the BMW 7 Series or the Mercedes S-Class.
The Audi A8’s 490-litre boot is smaller than the boots in the Mercedes S-Class (510 litres) and the BMW 7 Series (515 litres) but it’s still plenty big enough for a couple of large suitcases. The Audi lowers itself to aid loading but any heavy luggage has to be lifted over a large boot lip, although that’s true of the Mercedes and BMW too.
The Audi A8 can drive itself where the law allows and is extremely comfortable. The Active Dynamic Steering gives it small-car maneuverability, but does feel artificial.
The Audi A8 has more safety features than an airbag factory on 24-hour shifts
The Audi A8 is available with a 340hp 3.0-litre petrol engine and a 286hp 3.0-litre diesel.
The petrol makes sense if you don’t do loads of miles because it feels quicker than the diesel, sounds sportier and is a little bit smoother when worked hard. It gets from 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds, but the downside of the performance is fuel economy of 36.2mpg. All A8s have mild-hybrid technology that allows them to coast with the engine switched off and recharge the battery when slowing.
If you covering lots of miles you’ll better off going for the more economical 3.0-litre diesel, which can return up to 50.4mpg. Its powerful mid-range gives surging performance at motorway speed and its improved fuel economy compared to the petrol will save you money in the long run if you do lots of long motorway trips.
The Audi A8 has a long list of technology that’s designed to make your journey as comfortable as possible, but the AI traffic Jam Pilot is arguably the cleverest.
Unlike most systems that require you to keep your hands on the steering wheel, Audi’s system can drive the A8 completely independently on motorways and dual carriageways (or any road with a central reservation) at speeds of up to 37mph. It’s so good you can sit and watch the car’s onboard TV while the car deals with driving. There is a major downside, though – the clever tech can’t yet legally be used in the UK.
Thankfully, Parking Pilot can be. It lets you park the car without being in it – so you can park the car in spaces that aren’t wide enough for you to open the doors. All you need to do is press a button on the myAudi smartphone app and the car does the rest – beaming a surround view of the car to your mobile as it goes.
The Audi’s optional Predictive Active Suspension is best sampled from inside the car. It uses a camera to scan the road, allowing electric actuators in the suspension to literally lift the wheels over bumps. It’s an optional feature that makes even bumpy roads feel snooker-table smooth to you and your passengers.
The Predictive Active Suspension also boosts side impact safety. It can sense an imminent collision, jacking up the car’s suspension by 80mm on the corresponding side so that the impact is absorbed by the car’s tough floor.
Another clever feature is the A8’s dynamic all-wheel steering system that gives the A8 added manoeuvrability in town. Tight manoeuvres can be tackled with barely any movement from the steering wheel and the rear-wheel steering swings the back of the car around tight bends.
The clever steering feels a little artificial, but for a large car the Audi A8 handles well and all models come with quattro four-wheel drive that gives you plenty of grip even on slippery roads.
The Audi A8’s interior looks like it has come from the 20s – the 2020s. It screams quality and advanced technology, but it’s a shame the pretty infotainment screens aren’t easier to use.
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