Audi A8 L 4.0 TFSI Review: It'd Rather You Not Know It's So Terrific
The Audi A8 has always been the cool, calm and collected one in the room. But it knows it is one of the smartest and most capable of the bunch, too. It has nothing to prove except to be the best of its kind. And to be the foremost of all Audis is a big deal indeed.
Like in the S8 road tested prior, the A8L is not just a proper Audi flagship, it’s a flagship, period. Glance closely at the quality of its paintwork, open and close its doors and search for something amiss in the fit and finish - you’ll quickly conclude this is one quality automobile. It’s the sort that seems to last a lifetime; ironically, the A8L reminded me of the Mercedes W126, in how it feels so much better built than anything else in its time.
Like the stately and conservative W126, the A8L also carries out its business slipping under the radar, not one to draw attention to itself. Yet its occupants are truly experiencing one of the quietest and most relaxing ways to travel by four wheels.
A key contributor to this is the famed Audi Space Frame (ASF), which was once a full aluminium chassis in earlier A8s that easily made it one of the lightest in its class. Today’s car is only made of 58% aluminium, perhaps because Audi realised that a combination of metals still made a better product. The passenger compartment consists of hot-formed steel components supplemented with an ultra high strength, extremely torsionally rigid rear panel made of a carbon-fibre reinforced polymer. The result is a bank vault like atmosphere in the way the car rides over bumps, handles corners and reduces NVH.
It gets better. Audi has really specified the A8L extremely well. Plush Valcona leather, front and rear seat ventilation, 22-way seat adjustment movements, and four-zone deluxe automatic air conditioning come as standard for all LWB variants in Singapore. Specifically for the A8L 4.0 TFSI, you get additional goodies like massage functions on all seats and rear entertainment screens. Let’s just say it’s not easy to extract rear passengers out once they’re sat in.
And if you think this limo will make its driver shudder at corners, you’d be surprised. The good old combination of quattro all-wheel drive, paired with a self-locking centre differential as standard, as well as adaptive air suspension allows the car to have vast reserves of grip while keeping body roll largely in check. And Audi might as well have called all-wheel steering (standard for the A8L) a Body Shrinking Machine, for it really makes the A8L feel like a much shorter, more agile car.
Yet it is really at speed where the A8L shines. Highways are conquered effortlessly, especially with the 4.0 TFSI twin-turbo V8 engine that puts out 460 PS and 660 Nm of torque. Good on Audi to specify the press car with a V8, because since time immoral this class of car really deserved to have 8 cylinders under the hood. It just feels and sounds so right, especially when you have full torque at your command from just 1,850 rpm. 0-100 km/h is accomplished in just 4.5 seconds, and you’d think that’s all the power you need (until you try the S8). Its 8-speed tiptronic gearbox is a perfect companion to the engine and rarely feels flustered. It can even change gears even when the engine is not running.
Audi attempts to be efficient with the V8 with a cylinder on demand (COD) system, which temporarily deactivates four cylinders for moderate driving. The way it does this is imperceptible, but its effect on fuel consumption is also hard to appreciate. I achieved about 6 km/l on the test drive, which is expected for a car and an engine of this size.
The A8L is such a well-built car and I’m astounded to think it is already a facelifted model of the original that was launched some five years ago. It is still the benchmark for build quality and interior materials in its class, and really gets under your skin with its quiet confidence.
Photos by Horizon Drivers' Club