Audi's redesigned flagship sedan debuted as a 2004 model. The redesign included an all-new aluminum body that promised 60 percent better structural rigidity than its predecessor was developed. Audi's third-generation space frame uses fewer components and weighs 300 pounds less.
A slightly lower-priced, shorter-wheelbase model was added for 2005; the long-wheelbase version is designated A8 L. A tire-pressure-monitoring system became standard for 2005.
In mid-2005, a Sport package that included 19-inch wheels and an adaptive air suspension became available. All 2006 A8s get a new single-frame grille, adaptive front lights, a rain sensor and Audi's parking system with a graphic display.
Audi's 335-horsepower, 4.2-liter V-8 includes five valves per cylinder. An adaptive four-setting air-spring suspension features continuous shock-absorber damping control, and it also permits speed-dependent lowering of the body for increased directional stability. Permanent quattro all-wheel drive is standard.
An A8 L 6.0 quattro sedan with a 450-hp W-12 engine went on sale in late 2004 and is now named the A8 L W12.
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Audi describes its top sedan as "a harmonious combination of clarity and sporting character, grace and elegance." The A8 L rides on a 121-inch wheelbase, which is 5.1 inches more than the base A8. The low front end features a short overhang, and the back has a high tail. A high belt line that rises toward the rear highlights the A8's sporty appearance.
The A8 L's rear doors are 5 inches longer than those on the shorter-wheelbase version for easy entry and exit. For 2006, five-spoke alloy wheels hold standard 18-inch tires, but 19-inch tires are available in the Sport package.
Five people fit inside the A8 and A8 L. The driver faces a multifunction four-spoke steering wheel and uses an electromechanical parking brake.
Fine wood trim extends to the sides of the interior and complement Valcona leather upholstery. Power front seats can be equipped with massage, heating and ventilating functions. The premium Bose surround sound system includes a CD changer and 12 speakers. Audi Exclusive packages for 2006 A8 models include contrasting black piping and unique wood trim.
Under the Hood
Audi's 4.2-liter V-8 produces 335 hp and drives a six-speed-automatic transmission that permits Tiptronic manual gear selection and a Dynamic Shift Program that reduces the number of gear changes needed. All A8s have quattro all-wheel drive.
Standard equipment includes antilock brakes and 10 airbags, including knee airbags, front and rear side-impact airbags, and side curtain-type airbags.
Instead of being flamboyant, Audi's flagship sedan is civilized and refined and accomplishes most things in a manner that's close to flawless. Luxury and maneuverability are the A8's strongest attributes.
On narrow two-lane roads, this full-size sedan whips from one curve to the next with ease. Going precisely where you steer, it stays beautifully flat while cornering and responds immediately to driver inputs.
The ride is elegantly smooth, and the A8 displays total control. You get an abundant rush of energy when the pedal is pushed, but considerable downshifting occurs on even moderate upgrades. Fortunately, those downshifts are smooth and prompt.
The A8 L has abundant backseat legroom, but foot room is more limited. Visibility in all directions is good.�
A8 L W12
Late in 2004, Audi introduced a variant of its flagship A8 sedan with a W-12 engine rather than the usual V-8. Initially known as the A8 L 6.0 quattro, the top-level sedan was the first model to wear Audi's new, prominent grille. Rated at 450 hp, its 6.0-liter W-12 engine mates with a six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. This was the first production car in the world to use LED technology, which promises extremely low power consumption, for its daytime running lights.
Audi says the A8 L W12 "accommodates four in supreme luxury." Standard equipment includes keyless entry and engine start-up, a navigation system, four-zone automatic climate control, a front and rear Parktronic parking system, and electric sun shades for the rear and side windows. For 2006, A8 L W12 sedans get distinct rocker panels and a standard wood-segment steering wheel. Back to top