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 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.
The Audi A8 has more safety features than an airbag factory on 24-hour shifts
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 A8 handles well and all models come with quattro four-wheel drive that gives you plenty of grip even on slippery roads.