Audi A8 (2014-2017) review

With its aluminium spaceframe construction and quattro four-wheel drive, the Audi A8 used to be the high-tech choice in a large executive class that includes the Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7 Series. High-tech no longer, though – the A8 can’t hide the fact that it’s a six-year-old design.

This score is awarded by our team of
expert reviewers
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers
after extensive testing of the car

What's good

  • Excellent build quality
  • Loads of toys
  • Efficient engines

What's not so good

  • Doesn’t look special enough
  • Interior lags slightly behind rivals
  • Ride quality below par

Find out more about the Audi A8 (2014-2017)

Is the Audi A8 (2014-2017) a good car?

Old, but not unpleasing to look at, it’s a natural scale up from the A4 and A6 that sit lower in the range. Its imposing chrome grille and bloated wheel arches give it a sporty tinge, and being Jason Statham’s chosen wheels in the Transporter films franchise does nothing to dampen the cool factor.

With its sophisticated interior, it’s a perfect match for the Bond-style star. A sense of quality oozes from the A8’s every pore, with metal, leather and high-quality plastic combining into one glorious whole. That said, the A8’s technology is overshadowed by newer models – its age means that the likes of Audi’s 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit display isn’t compatible, and some of the switchgear feels decidedly old hat.

The basics are there, though – there’s plenty of space for four people, but long-wheelbase L models increase rear legroom by a substantial 130mm. Whether you go for it or the standard car, the boot is big and there are multiple smaller storage areas scattered around the interior.

There used to be multiple engine choices to choose from, too, but unless you go for the fast S8, petrols have been consigned to the history books, leaving you to choose between V6 or V8 diesels. Neither costs the earth to run and even the V6 has plenty of power.

You’ll be tempted to call on that reserve more often than you might expect because the A8 is surprisingly fun to drive, with plenty of grip, afforded to it by the standard quattro four-wheel drive system. Comfort remains a priority, but that is guaranteed by the adaptable air suspension that comes fitted to every model.

It forms just part of a long list of equipment that comes fitted to the basic A8, which includes a leather interior, an eight-speed automatic gearbox, sat-nav and all round parking sensors.

The A8 is a capable luxury car but one begging for a refresh

Mat Watson
Mat Watson
carwow expert

In a funny way, it’s the A8’s age that is both its biggest strength and its most noticeable weakness. Coming from an era when luxury saloons were more sporty, it offers a driving experience that rewards better than rivals, with the possible exception of the Jaguar XJ.

But the things that make it a rewarding steer also restrict it when it comes to technology – and there’s no denying the A8 feels like a bi-plane in a supersonic world.

If that doesn’t bother you then the A8 still does lots of things really well – its stylish body effectively masks its years, it’s very comfortable and the all-diesel lineup promises affordable running costs. And, let’s not forget, buy your new A8 via carwow and you stand to make a mammoth average saving of {average saving}.

What's it like to drive?

Out on the road, the A8 reveals its trump card – it’s good to drive!

Really, there’s little need to go for anything other than the entry 3.0-litre litre diesel

Mat Watson
Mat Watson
carwow expert

Purists might lament the loss of the big petrol engines originally offered with the A8, but their huge running costs (the W12 returned just 20mpg and the V8 wasn’t much better) meant they never appealed to enough buyers. Anyway, if you want crazy performance in your A8 saloon, there’s always the S8.

But there’s little point bothering – the diesels have all the performance you could ever need, their effortless power delivery matches the A8’s smooth shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox, and their running costs sit well within the realms of affordability.

The A8 engine range comprises just two units – a 3.0-litre V6 and a 4.2-litre V8. Tempting as it is to spec the top-of-the-range model, there really is no need – the V6 does just fine. Its 258hp might not sound like much in a car this big, but thanks to having four-wheel drive and eight forward gears, it’s enough to rocket the A8 from 0-62mph in just 5.9 seconds.

Horsepower figures tend to carry more weight, but it’s the A8’s 428Ib ft of torque – and the fact it’s available from just 1,750rpm – that’s more worthy of mention here. In the real world, those figures translate into effortless acceleration at far beyond legal speeds. The best part is the fuel economy, because despite its size and performance, the 3.0-litre can return fuel economy of close to 50mpg.

If you crave for even more readily accessible oomph, the 4.2-litre V8’s door is well worth knocking. Its 626Ib ft of torque is nothing short of astonishing, bearing in mind a top-of-the-range Audi R8 coughs out a mere 413Ib ft. Acceleration is mind blowing – the 380hp saloon sprints from 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds and top speed wouldn’t be far off 200mph were the car not limited to ‘just’ 155mph. Fuel economy drops to around 40mpg which isn’t excessive given the turn of speed.

The Audi is unerringly accomplished at feeling much smaller than it actually is, so you soon forget about its huge dimensions and start to enjoy its far-reaching limits.

The steering helps with this. A throwback to 2010 when the A8 was launched, it’s hydraulic and gives a more natural feel than the electric systems fitted to newer models. It’s quicker to react than the steering in the Mercedes S-Class and weighs up nicely as you enter corners, giving the confidence to fully exploit the grip of the wide tyres and quattro four-wheel-drive system.

The hydraulic power steering doesn’t come without its drawbacks, though. It isn’t compatible with the autonomous driving systems that are available in rivals, although things like active cruise control (£2,000) and lane assist (£500) are options.

Even without that kit specified, the A8 makes for an excellent cruiser. Standard double glazing helps the miles roll by almost unnoticed – there’s no wind noise and barely any tyre rumble.

That good work isn’t undone by an overly firm suspension setup, set to Comfort the adaptive air springs float over bumps and crests like they have a marshmallow filling. Select Dynamic and there’s less body roll and a firmer edge to the handling balance but, overall, it’s still pretty cosseting.

Enclosed areas don’t suit the A8 quite as well as the motorway. Through town, there’s no disguising the car’s vast dimensions. Simple manoeuvres turn into three point turns and parking can be tricky – the back windscreen seems awfully far away, a rear-view camera is a cheeky £500 option, and self-park isn’t available.

What's it like inside?

It’s from the inside that the A8 has really started to lose its edge.

Next Read full interior review