The A8 is available in two four-door sedan models — the A8 for $78,050 and the A8L for $84,000, which has a five-inch longer wheelbase. Both are powered by a powerful 372-hp V-8 engine mated to an eight-speed Tiptronic transmission with available column-mounted paddle shifters, Quattro all-wheel drive and low-profile tires on alloy wheels.
The A8 clocks 0-60 mph in an impressive 5.5 seconds and is able to cruise for hours at speeds well over 100 mph. High technology such as onboard navigation and a sound system managed either by voice command or a touch pad in the center console next to a shift lever is standard on the A8. The A8L is the long wheelbase limousine-like model that has a very roomy back seat with optional reclining seats, a power footrest and an onboard refrigerator.
On the highway, the new 2011 A8 is both a capable luxury cruiser and a fun-to-drive sport sedan. The Quattro system effectively eliminates any understeer or oversteer making the car quicker to respond to changes in direction, while stability at highway cruising speeds is a strong suit of this car.
As for design, the new A8 is boxier and less wedge-like than Audi’s smaller sedans. It has the Audi signature trapezoidal grille and a slightly bulbous hood, but from the side, it looks like any other big European luxury sedan. Character lines run parallel along the side from the top and bottom of the front wheelwell to the top of the trunk and the center of the rear bumper. New for 2011 is the optional LED technology in the A8 headlights — high beam, low beam, turn indicators, side markers and running lights. The LEDs produce an even, wide pattern of very white light. The LED theme also is used in the taillights that wrap around the corner of the rear fender and double as side marker lights.
Standard features include charcoal filtered automatic dual zone climate control; heated 18-way power front seats; leather upholstery and leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift lever; the usual trio of powered accessories plus the rear sunshade, tilt and telescope steering column and tilt and slide glass sunroof; cruise control; keyless start/stop; auto-dim inside mirror with compass; and a voice-recognition navigation system.
In short, the 2011 A8 is Audi’s answer for luxury at its best, with real leather seats and trim, Bose surround sound and a voice-recognition navigation system, in addition to all the usual standard luxury features.
Ron Beasley is the automotive editor for Miami’s Community Newspapers. He may be contacted by calling 305-662-2277, ext. 261, or by addressing email correspondence to LetsTalkCars@aol.com.