NEWS

2019 Audi A8: 7 Things We Like (and 5 Not So Much)

audi-a8-l-2019-angle--exterior--grey--rear.jpg 2019 Audi A8 L | Cars.com photo by Brian Wong

The Audi A8 sits proudly among the most elite luxury sedans, including the BMW 7 Series, Lexus LS, Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Porsche Panamera. At this pricing level, car shoppers demand and expect the best when it comes to comfort, safety features, technology and power. With a starting price of more than $80,000, the A8 represents the pinnacle of Audi’s sedan lineup and, in most cases, the brand’s leading edge when it comes to high-end features.

Related: 2019 Audi A8 L Review: ‘A’ Is for Adequate

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What could be missing from the mix? To start, unlike its rivals, until the recent announcement of a late-coming V-8, the A8 offered only one choice of engine. The turbocharged V-6 is refined and comes coupled to an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive — except that from behind the wheel, the A8 experience lacks the drama and excitement found in many of its rivals. Performance is fine but not spine-tingling the way you’ll find sport-tuned examples of the 7 Series, S-Class and Panamera.

Shopping for a large luxury sedan and have the A8 on your list of suitors? Be sure to read our full review by Cars.com’s Brian Wong via the related link above. If you don’t mind spoilers, keep scrolling down for the high notes of this high-luxury sedan — along with some of its, shall we say, lower-register tones.

Here are seven things we like, and five we don’t, about the 2019 Audi A8:

Things We Like

1. Elegant V-6 Engine

Audi initially kept the A8 range simple for the 2019 model year by offering one choice of powertrain. Under the hood is a turbocharged V-6 with a supplementary mild-hybrid system that delivers 335 horsepower and 369 pounds-feet of torque. Coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission channeling power to all four wheels, performance is nicely suited to this car’s comfort-oriented driving dynamics.

2. Cruisin’ in Comfort

The Audi A8 can never be faulted for not isolating you from bumps and road imperfections that would shiver other cars’ and SUVs’ timbers. A drive mode selector has settings for Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual. When the road ahead got curvy, we enjoyed the tauter suspension responses found in Dynamic mode. But for the most part, we were happy to cruise along in literal Comfort.

audi-a8-l-2019-cockpit-shot--interior.jpg 2019 Audi A8 L | Cars.com photo by Brian Wong

3. A Very Smart Suspension

In addition to modes, Audi offers some upgrades to the A8’s suspension. These include four-wheel steering to provide sharper steering reflexes, along with a predictive adaptive suspension. This system scans the road ahead and adjusts the suspension to counter incoming ruts, bumps or other imperfections.

4. All-Wheel Drive All the Time

Having all-wheel drive seals the deal for many car shoppers, especially when handing over this amount of money. The A8 L comes standard with Audi’s acclaimed Quattro all-wheel-drive hardware. While AWD is available on its key rivals, it’s nice knowing you don’t have to tick an option box and pony up to get it on the A8.

5. Intuitive Touchscreen System

The 2019 A8 features a new dual-pane touchscreen interface that’s intuitive and looks futuristic. Generally, the controls are nicely displayed, and tapping the screen provides a gentle haptic click that you feel and hear; in other words, you know you’ve actually pressed a button. The static displays for climate controls on the lower screen are a smart touch, as it eliminates the need to scroll for simple commands like adjusting fan speed.

6. Rear-Seat Reprieve

The best seat in the house might be in the back of the A8. There’s tons of legroom and innumerable comfort touches to make life as a passenger a serene experience. A massaging footrest? You can get one in the A8 L. The rear seats of our test car were heated and ventilated, and also featured a massage function.

audi-a8-l-2019-interior--second-row.jpg 2019 Audi A8 L | Cars.com photo by Brian Wong

7. Elegantly Understated Exterior

There are more head-turning luxury sedans out there, though you’d never fault the A8 for being anything other than handsome in an understated sort of way. While some of the Audi’s rivals deliver more look-at-me excitement — check out the massive front grille found on the Lexus LS, for instance — the A8 L is nicely proportioned and should age gracefully.

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Things We Don’t

1. Autonomy Absent

Blame government regulations or Audi being too conservative when it comes to tech. Whatever the case, the 2019 A8 L in Europe offers a Level 3 self-driving system — a reference to SAE International’s six levels of automation, which go up to Level 5 — that’s conspicuously absent from the models sold here in the U.S.

2. Delayed Engine Start

While the turbocharged V-6 in the A8 gets the job done, you expect more variety and choice at this end of the luxury sedan market. Every one of the Audi’s competitors offers a range of engines and powertrain combinations; BMW even still offers a mighty V-12 in the 7 Series. Shoppers at the early end of the A8’s 2019 sales cycle were stuck with just the V-6 before the brand added a 4.0-liter V-8 S8 model that makes 563 hp and 590 pounds-feet of torque to power this big boy from 0-60 mph in 3.8 seconds on its way to a top speed of 155 mph.

3. A CSI Investigator’s Dream

The multiple-touchscreen layout looks nice, at least when it’s not covered with fingerprint smudges. You’ll want to pack microfiber cloths to keep things neat and tidy in the A8 cabin — and hope your car never gets implicated in a crime-scene investigation, because you’re gonna pop right up on the IAFIS.

audi-a8-l-2019-center-stack-display--interior.jpg Cars.com photo by Brian Wong

4. Where Do They Keep the Storage?

While there’s plenty of room for occupants in the front and rear of the A8, the total amount of storage nooks and cubbies is in short supply. The same is true for USB outlets; there are only two in the entire cabin.

5. Stingy Standard Safety

When a Toyota RAV4 compact SUV comes with more standard safety features than a German luxury sedan, something is wrong. Audi isn’t alone among luxury automakers that remain stingy on safety and sure, you can add lots of items onto the A8, but most should be included in this Audi’s prodigious price and not come as pricey add-ons. Standard safety items on the A8 L include automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, rearview camera and automatic high beams. Many other features are available, including a surround-view camera, head-up instrument display, rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot monitors and more.

audi-a8-l-2019-exterior--grey--profile.jpg 2019 Audi A8 L | Cars.com photo by Brian Wong

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