The 2011 Audi A8 sits high in the “super” luxury car class and has the price tag to go with the distinction, opening at $78,050 and climbing to $84,000. (Gas mileage is 17 city and 27 highway.) Do you get what you pay for? The reviewers answer with a resounding, “yes,” lavishing praise on the A8’s high-tech cabin, standard Quattro AWD, and opulent interior finishings. Granted, the A8 isn’t quite up to the power performance of some of the competition, but that fact doesn’t really detract from an impressive overall package that toes the “luxury” line with dedication.
The major competitors are the Lexus LS, with the base on that model coming in $12,000 under the A8. (Just $9,500 less if you want an AWD Lexus.) The LS, however can’t match the A8 on fuel consumption or nimble handling. You might also consider the BMW 7-series, which does have equal handling, but no AWD option. The best BMW match is the 750i with a twin-turbo V8. Of course, by the time you had everything you need to, you’re looking at around $85,500. Obviously for price point, you’re getting a lot of “out of the box” value from the A8.
There are two trims, the base A8 and A8L (which is 5.2 inches longer.) Standard features on the base include adaptive air suspension sun roof, nav unit, leather, heated front seats with 12-way adjust, dual-zone climate control, Bose Surround Sound with iPod connectivity, Bluetooth, HD and satellite radio, a 20 gb hard drive, and a CD changer. If you go up to the A8L, you get all that plus parking sensors with a backup camera, power closing doors and trunk, sunshades in the back seat, and push start.
Under the hod, there’s a 4.2-liter V8 with 372-hp. It’s a little behind the power standard for the class, but the eight-speed transmission and Quattro AWD balance out the “oomph” factor beautifully. The transmission is electronically controlled, which makes shifting overly sensitive, however. Bottom line, it takes some getting used to or you wind up in a gear you don’t want.
Visually, the A8 looks a little too much like the A4. It would be nice for the Audi “flagship” to actually wave the flag a bit more. Still, it’s not an unattractive sedan by any means, with a long hood and a roof line that curves rakishly down to the chopped off tail. It may not stand out in the crowd of super luxury sedans, but it’s hardly an ugly step-sister. (And about that chopped off tail? It allows for just 13.2 cubic feet in the trunk, a tad short for the class, but you’re not buying this car to haul.)
Inside, you’ll find high-quality materials, generous space, and lots of electronics. Go with the optional ventilated, massaging front seats. You won’t be sorry. And treat your backseat passengers to the optional footrests. The MMI interface for climate, navigation, and audio control is accessed via a touchpad. Trace letters and numbers with your fingers to access function. Cool? You bet, and intuitive and easy to use even on the road.
Standard safety equipment includes anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, active front head restraints, and a full array of airbags. Options include blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, and pre-collision warning as well as infrared night vision with pedestrian protection.
With very good fuel economy for its size and class, a well-conceived and executed interior, and commendable handling, the 2011 Audi A8 is a high-value choice for the money. US News ranked the A8 third out of 9 super luxury cars reviewed, and it certainly deserves its place at the head of the class.