The understated confidence
Sometimes I wonder if car reviews are actually read and appreciated by the subject’s prospective buyer. Whereas I’m sure that small hatchback and family sedan shoppers do a substantial amount of homework before hitting the showrooms, do the punters of an Audi A8 long wheelbase do the same?
Surely the boutique hotels, chauffeur companies and human resource directors of this world don’t scour the internet or print media for airbag counts and kilowatt figures of such cars. In all probability, almost none of them compare 0-100 times or cup holder size of an A8, S-Class, Seven Series, XJ Jag, Range Rover or Bentley.
In my humble opinion – and it is just that – they don’t aspire to this longer A8 by dreaming of it at night and saving up for a decent deposit. The biggest Audi limousine ends up on their driveway because they have a good relationship with the brand (or dealer) and it attracts them on more emotional, unquantifiable levels.
Looking at the hefty white specimen outside my house right now, I can determine a few already. Yes, the extra length (13cm) of this A8 makes it one of the biggest barges in the office car park but Audi have done a phenomenal job of masking its bulk with clean lines and understated details.
Think of the A8 long wheelbase as a beautiful, voluptuous lady in an elegant dress. She’s a big girl alright but timeless fashion and tasteful make-up allow her to waft around an embassy ball with confidence. Other women may have cleavage or turquoise eye shadow but the ladyship A8 has style on her side.
Another reason to consider this particular car is its unbelievably brawny engine. If you really want figures, this V8T model has a 4.2-litre twin-turbo Diesel V8 with 285kW or a colossal 850Nm. That last amount would be more at home in a truck brochure and thus makes for completely effortless performance.
Delivered to all four 20-inch wheels via Quattro all-wheel-drive, I even beat Audi’s acceleration claim by sailing past 100km/h in just 4.5 seconds; and supreme comfort. None of the other Germans bring their turbo-Diesel V8 sedans to our shores so this V8T’s only real adversaries are the Touareg and Range Rover.
Refreshed in April this year Audi’s flagship range boasts with all-aluminium bodies, improved insulation and better technology to further increase efficiency and refinement. The 8-speed automatic gearbox can get harsh when going from no to full throttle but other than that, it doesn’t put a cog wrong.
Combined with the engine’s immense twisting power, the V8T usually cruises at or below 1,500rpm. Its air suspension does a sterling job of isolating passengers from rough road conditions except for the sportier settings of the car’s drive mode selection. This also puts the engine and gearbox on heat.
Steering feedback is slightly numb (as it should be in a big luxury car) yet very quick, the A8L turning in with verve and not requiring much effort to snake around a mountain or valet parking area. However, I sense that you may be more interested in what life’s like in the back of this N$1,545,500 liner.
For starters, the rear doors are just as large as the front ones so embarking astern doesn’t feel like a second class affair. Even when I had adjusted what felt like a hundred settings of the driver’s seat to suit my six foot plus frame, there was still a surplus of legroom available to any VIP behind me.
Over and above the cosseting ride and opulent space of this vehicle, rear passengers enjoyed individual climate control, privacy window screens and entertainment. I would highly recommend the decadent Bang and Olufsen Advanced Sound System for N$85,000 which, in my mind, has no equal in the market.
Despite a raft of standard features, you can still make merry with the expensive options list to individualise your A8L. Our test car featured night vision and clever LED headlights yet the standard A8 features are just as appealing; like the angled main instruments which flank a high resolution display.
The MMI infotainment system screen rises out of the central dashboard which, in this car, was decorated with a stunning, matt, deeply-grained and dark-brown wood veneer. I caressed it a lot, sorry Audi. Other textures, materials and lighting also mesmerised me – as did the soft-closing doors.
I could go on about the A8L’s self-parking trick, those swooping LED indicators, the atomic seat heaters or the fact that I once achieved 7.8L/100km with careful driving but what you really need to know is that driving this understated and highly accomplished car is almost as exquisite as being a passenger.
0-10km/h: 0.24 seconds
0-20km/h: 0.57 seconds
0-30km/h: 0.91 seconds
0-40km/h: 1.23 seconds
0-50km/h: 1.62 seconds
0-60km/h: 2.06 seconds
0-70km/h: 2.56 seconds
0-80km/h: 3.17 seconds
0-90km/h: 3.81 seconds
0-100km/h: 4.51 seconds
0-110km/h: 5.31 seconds
0-120km/h: 6.26 seconds
0-130km/h: 7.22 seconds
0-140km/h: 8.35 seconds
0-100m: 5.38 seconds @ 110.76km/h
0-200m: 8.25 seconds @ 139.32km/h
0-300m: 10.66 seconds @ 158.49km/h
0-400m: 12.90 seconds @ 173.52km/h
Maximum acceleration G-force: 0.93G
All data captured by Racelogic® Performance Box