Test driving the 2009 A8 W12 is like auditioning at chauffeur school. "Yes, sir. No, sir. Right away, sir."
You acquire manners without even realizing it.
Drivers may sit behind the steering wheel, but the owner sits in the back. Why else would Audi provide more headroom, legroom and interior volume in the second row?
People who buy this car, which starts at $120,000, don't worry about all of the high-tech features available to the driver -- they often do not even know the driver's name.
This car pushes luxury to a whole new level of comfort, and, on weekends, maybe when the staff is given a reprieve, the owner will grab the keys to the A8 and take it out for a country ride.
Do it once, and he or she is destined to fire the chauffeur -- this car was made for driving.
Despite its size (it stretches more than 200 inches) and its weight (topping 4,700 pounds), the Audi A8 W12 provides blistering kinds of numbers. Its 0-60 acceleration time comes in at 5 seconds.
Five flippin' seconds! It has a top speed of 130 mph, which Audi limits electronically -- if it didn't, the car feels like it could break the sound barrier. It's a massive machine that can do anything much smaller sports cars can handle but better. Blast off smoothly
The 6-liter, 12-cylinder engine hums at any speed pushing 450 horses and 428-pound-feet of torque to the car's all-wheel drive system, simply known as Quattro by the German automaker. The six-speed automatic transmission makes every shift barely noticeable.
The acceleration is actually more exciting than that. Time slows when you're blasting off in this car.
The power courses through you as the car surges forward, responding to your commands instantly. This car doesn't feel nearly as fast as it is. Its responsiveness is incredible. The steering is exact, and the air suspension and rigid body eliminate any movements. It just goes faster and faster in an avalanche of excitement. But driving this hard seems wrong.
Big, burly sedans should not have these abilities. It may wear Superman's tights under its Armani suit, but it still looks too big to be this nimble.
Forget that it's built with Audi's Space Frame construction with aluminum alloy body parts and comes with an aluminum 12-cylinder dual overhead cam engine. And forget that it features more technology and wood trim in the cabin than most executive jets. Really, its ride is smoother than most jets.
Two people could sit in the back playing chess and never realize they're flying down the highway at 110 mph.
Just don't try speeding anywhere near Detroit Metro Airport, where Romulus police will gladly pull you over for the most minor of infractions. In fact, when I drove the A8 W12 down Eureka Road on my way to Middlebelt, I thought for sure the police there were going to stop me just so they could look at this car.
It's that beautiful. The LED daytime running lights along the edge of the headlamps look like electric eyeliner. That big mouth of a grille chews up everything in front of it, and the touches of chrome trim glisten in the moonlight. If this car doesn't say "money" and "power," nothing does. The owner's manual should come in a leather briefcase. Nearly perfect
Inside, the wood trim looks perfect. The navigation screen hides itself behind a simple panel on the dash. It's there if you need it, not there if you don't. The aluminum trim sparkles, and when you're in the driver's seat, everything you want is a finger movement away. Touch and go. Go really fast.
It has everything -- blind spot detection, radar-controlled cruise control, and even a system that vibrates the steering wheel slightly if you start to move out of your lane. It probably doesn't make a sound because it doesn't want to disturb the owner.
It tracks the road's lines and gently pushes you back into your lane if you go astray.
There is no better flagship on the road today. It exemplifies luxury and performance in a nearly perfect combination.
During my 100-mile test drive, I had to check the odometer to find out when the 100 miles were up. I could have driven all day in the A8 W12.
Better yet, I could have let someone else drive me around all day.
While the A8 W12 has all of the trappings of a sports car, it was made for executives who want the very best for their staff.
Sburgess@detnews.com (313) 223-3217