For 2008, Audi's flagship A8 full-size luxury sedan receives updates to its steering and air suspension systems that are intended to enhance the car's driving performance. There are also newly available safety features like lane assist and side assist, which alerts drivers when other vehicles are alongside them. Competitors include the BMW 7 Series, Lexus LS 460 and Mercedes-Benz S-Class, and the A8 is available in regular- and long-wheelbase form.
The A8's adaptive air-spring suspension permits speed-dependent lowering of the body for increased directional stability. An A8 L 6.0 Quattro sedan with a 450-horsepower W-12 engine went on sale in late 2004 and is now named the A8 L W12.
(Skip to details on the: A8 L W12)
A8s feature a version of Audi's distinctive single-frame grille and adaptive headlights. The sedan receives minor styling modifications for 2008, like new side mirrors with turn signal indicators, but the overall appearance is essentially unchanged.
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.
Five people fit inside the A8 and A8 L. The driver faces a multifunction four-spoke steering wheel and uses an electromechanical parking brake. Audi says the A8's cabin is quieter than before thanks to additional insulation.
Fine wood trim extends to the sides of the interior and complements leather upholstery. Power front seats can be equipped with massage, heating and ventilating functions. The Bose surround sound system includes a CD changer and 12 speakers. A Bang & Olufsen stereo is optional.
Under the Hood
Audi's 4.2-liter V-8 produces 350 hp and drives a six-speed automatic transmission that permits Tiptronic manual gear selection. 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 airbags. An electronic stability system is also standard.
The newly available Audi side assist feature keeps track of vehicles next to the A8 and activates a light in the side mirror when a car is present. With Audi's lane assist, the steering wheel vibrates if the A8 nears a painted lane marking and the turn signal hasn't been activated.
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. It stays beautifully flat while cornering and responds immediately to driver inputs. 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
The top-of-the-line A8 features a 6.0-liter W-12 engine rated at 450 hp. The engine drives 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. The A8 L W12 has distinct rocker panels, too.
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. Back to top
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