2018 Audi A8 Review
Dan DeGasperi’s 2018 Audi A8 Review with pricing, specs, performance, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: The all-new Audi A8 might well be the most advanced car you can buy right now…with much of its tech trickling down to ‘lesser’ machines…
2018 Audi A8 Specifications
Price $192,000-$210,000(+ORC) Warranty three-years, unlimited km Safety N/A Engine 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel or -petrol Power 210kW at 3750-4000rpm or 250kW at 5000-6400rpm Torque 600Nm at 1250-3250rpm or 500Nm at 1370-4500rpm Transmission eight-speed automatic Drive all-wheel drive Dimensions 5172-5302mm (L) 1945mm (W) 1473-1488mm (H) 2998-3128mm (WB) Seats five Boot Space 505 litres Weight 1920-2000kg Towing 2300kg Fuel Tank 72 litres Thirst 6.0-8.3/100km claimed combined
IN A world increasingly turning towards the ‘coupe SUV’ class, it’s ironic that the new vehicle segment that debuts the most advanced technologies is actually that of the traditional upper-large sedan. When fully optioned, this all-new Audi A8 could well be the most advanced car in the world.
It is ‘technically’ the first model ever that can allow drivers to sit on the freeway while reading a book as the A8 autonomously drives itself – when governments first allow, and then Audi completes homologation work for each country, that is. Next year it will come with active suspension that can within milliseconds project the sedan 80mm higher into the air when a potential side collision is detected, all to protect riders.
And right now, behind its conservative four-door outfit, it can detect cyclists riding beside you and briefly hold the door closed to prevent a side-swipe, it can automatically switch the engine off while coasting on the freeway, and it has matrix LED headlights with a laser beam that can project 600 metres – more than half a kilometre – down the road.
And it does all this while pampering passengers and being faster and greener than ever.
What is the Audi A8?
It is expensive, priced between $192,000 and $210,000 plus on-road costs. It comes in two wheelbase sizes – 2998mm with a 5172mm body length, and the ‘L’ with 3128mm between the wheels and 5302mm from tip to toe – and each is available with two 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 engines, the 50 TDI diesel being $3000 cheaper than the 55 TFSI petrol.
Tick all the boxes, though, and the top model can comfortably extend to $280K-plus. A whole 11 airbags are standard, including a front-centre ‘bag to protect driver and passenger heads from being thrown into the dashboard during a side impact. Every bit of active safety technology is also included, extending to the ability for the systems to ‘see’ around the car and/or ‘look’ through T-intersections, then enact evasive braking or subtle steering input.
But – and more will be explained in the next section – a rear executive package with rear foot massage function costs $18,500 extra, the matrix LED headlights with automatic-adaptive high-beam and laser beam is a $13,200 option. A 23-speaker Bang and Olufsen audio system also requires $12,100 and a premium plus package needs $11,000 more.
So while this A8 might be 32mm longer than the last generation and 24 per cent more rigid, but Audi isn’t giving it all away…
What’s the Interior Like?
Up front an A8 driver and passenger will be treated to expected, but still spectacular, luxury. Lush leather extends all across the door trims and dashboard, while the colour driver display is still the best in any segment. The new twin-centre touchscreens offer clear and concise usability complete with haptic feedback after each button-press. Despite more technology than ever before, every touch sensitive control is just so easy and elegant to use.
That said, every test vehicle was equipped with the premium plus package with ‘extended leather’, front seat ventilation and massage, rear electric sunblinds, television reception, and special rear headrests, which arguably should be standard.
If the even-pricier A8 L-only executive package isn’t ticked, though, the rear quarters are nothing special. The seat support and space is indulgent, but even the high-res colour tablet screen only controls the four-zone climate if the TV box isn’t ticked; while that exec pack further adds heated and ventilated rear seat with massage, two separate reclining rear chairs with footrests, a centre console with tray tables, and even a front passenger seat that folds forward to provide a foot massage. No question, this is the A8 L to have.
The options might be expensive, but so-equipped and the A8 L in particular represents such an exotic and indulgent way to travel for circa-$250K that it would make higher priced Bentleys and Rolls-Royce models blush. Other than an average 505-litre boot, we say… luxury SUVs? What SUVs?
What’s it like to drive?
It is stunning to think that the A8 55 TFSI petrol weighs 1920kg and the top A8 L 50 TDI tops out at ‘just’ 2000kg. Consider the size, technology and luxury on offer, and that’s actually not bad. These are stunningly quiet sedans – thank the acoustic glass – and that extends to 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 engines that can only be separated on personal preferences.
With 250kW of power and 500Nm of torque, the petrol is the crisp-sounding version of the pair, and faster with a 5.6sec 0-100km/h claim versus 5.9sec. And with ‘only’ 210kW but a whole 600Nm, the still creamy yet slower-revving diesel claims to drink just 5.9 litres per 100 kilometres against its sibling’s 8.2L/100km. Both pair superbly well with the eight-speed automatic, and thanks to a 48-volt electrical system with 10Ah lithium-ion battery, these micro-hybrids can still run the air-conditioning and power steering while allowing the engine to turn off when cruising between 55km/h and 160km/h.
While the drivetrains are virtually faultless, the standard air suspension doesn’t yet score its active function where a forward camera works with four electric actuators positioned on each wheel to ‘pull’ the dampers into the vehicle and attempt to erase bumps ahead. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class has had a similar system for years, so it’s disappointing that Audi hasn’t been able to roll it out yet. Even so, the A8 rides beautifully, being slightly wobbly in Comfort mode but fairly immaculate in Auto and near-perfectly level in Dynamic. In fact, the latter ‘sportier’ mode could be the pick of the three on the freeway or over rough roads.
Otherwise, the steering is nice and measured, except when the optional (at $4500 extra) dynamic function is ticked. It adds four-wheel steering as well, and makes this upper-large sedan feel nervous just off-centre, with little weight or feedback to help a driver out. Otherwise, the ‘base’ petrol short wheelbase proved the sweetest drive, feeling supernaturally light on its feet considering its size, and being both grippy and decently agile.
What about ownership?
A three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty is below average these days, especially for such an expensive vehicle. Audi has not yet announced a capped-price servicing package for A8.
What about safety features?
11 airbags, switchable electronic stability control (ESC), blind-spot monitor, door exit warning and assist, attention assist, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep warning and assistance, autonomous emergency braking (AEB) to 85km/h for pedestrians and 250km/h for forward vehicles, intersection assistance with AEB to 30km/h for side traffic, and automatic up/down LED high-beam.
Further options include automatic-adaptive matrix and laser LED high-beam with OLED rear lights at $13,200 extra, and a night vision assistant that electronically visualises dark surroundings via the display at $5200 extra.
So, what do we think?
This is a mostly magnificent way to travel. The A8 L deserves to be fully optioned, because such packages add so much to the experience. At this pricetag a performance SUV isn’t really that sporty anyway, so wouldn’t it be better to pamper occupants instead? For refinement, plushness, and performance, the A8 nails its limousine brief
Petrol or diesel? The heart says petrol, especially given how well it has closed what previously was an enormous economy gap. Either way, it would be tempting to wait until next year when the active suspension is added. One of the world’s most technologically advanced vehicles certainly deserves it.