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1998 Audi A8

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1998 Audi A8
Available in 2 styles:  A8 4dr Sedan shown
Asking Price Range
Estimated MPG

17 city / 25–26 hwy

Expert Reviews

    Expert Reviews 1 of 3
1998 Audi A8 3.8 5
$ 2,481-5,697
November 29, 1997

Anyone below a certain age read Mad magazine while growing up. Since my parents were grateful that I read anything (besides TV Guide), they gladly let me buy it, despite its contents.

Of course, my juvenile reading habits don't mean anything. But in several issues, there's a saying from Alfred E. Neuman, the magazine's gap-toothed mascot. Not "What, me worry?," but another I clearly remember.

With all the grumpiness of an editor who has to dream up these things, Alf said that the aluminum soda can won't rust out as quickly as today's cars.

Maybe someone at Audi was listening.

All right, I know no one was listening. It's simple why Audi uses so much aluminum in its new top-of-the-line A8. It's lighter than steel.

This is no small thing when competing in the luxo-sedan league. An automaker has to stuff all the latest gadgets into an attractive package, and all those comforts add weight. So Audi makes extensive use of aluminum (including engine, space frame and body shell) to save weight and make the car that much faster.

Speed doesn't seem to be something missing, thanks to 230 horsepower and 235 foot-pounds of torque available through Audi's five-speed automatic transmission. Power is seamless and comes on strong and silent. The five-speed transmission snicks off the shifts with a velvety smoothness. Zero-60 comes up in 8.3 seconds. But, like most German automobiles, this number is deceptive.

Power at highway speeds is phenomenal, and that's where this car feels most in its element. Puttering around town, it's a shadow of its faster self.

If you need more speed, go for the optional 4.2-liter engine. With 300 horses and 295 foot-pounds of torque, it will speed to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds.

Although the ride is firm, it will require no kidney belts on the part of its occupants. Muted thumps make their presence felt, but it's in no way obtrusive.

Stops are short and secure, thanks to four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes. Other safety features include not only dual front air bags, but air bags in each door as well.

When you get to the head of the class, lots of luxo-stuff is expected. Audi delivers with such niceties as dual-zone climate control, front and rear fog lamps, heated leather seats and acres of beautiful walnut trim.

The design is functional and restrained, with an unexpected warmth despite the car's Germanic heritage. It is done well -- but just be sure to have your dealer show you where the headlamp switch is. Its location is a bit offbeat.

Seating is as firm as the ride, with bucket seats that hold you in place for the task at hand. There's not so much give as you might expect. Rear-seat passengers are treated well, with vents in the back of the center console and just ahead of each rear door. Leg room is good, but some might wish for more foot room, despite the plentiful supply under each seat.

If you think this luxury sedan sounds like to o many others, take a look at the details that make this one so fine. The window glass is double pane to reduce noise. Indeed, it's quite quiet, with little sound to annoy passengers. The materials are stout -- it seems there was thought placed everywhere, even down to the small brushed-aluminum surround on the transmission lever.

Top it all off with Audi's smooth up-to-date styling, with a short high deck and expertly finished exterior, and you have one fine touring sedan, one that stands out in a sea of Bimmers and Benzes.

And its performance is so good, you don't have to be Mad to buy an Audi.

1998 AUDI A8 3.7L Standard: 3.7-liter double overhead cam V6, anti-lock braking system, speed-sensitive power steering, dual front air bags, four-seat mounted air bags, anti-theft alarm with remote locking, front and rear fog lamps, dual power mirrors with defogger, dual zone climate control, 14-way power driver's seat with four memory positions, power sunroof, walnut inlays, cruise control, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, five-speed transmission, leather seating. Options: Audi-Bose music system. Base price: $56,900 As tested: $58,200 EPA rating: 17 mpg city, 26 mpg highway Test mileage: 20 mpg

    Expert Reviews 1 of 3

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