Audi A8 3.0 TFSI Quattro Tiptronic Review
Ei8ht Baller

Words and Photos by Clifford Chow
5 May 2021
 

The best way to enjoy your driving experience, is to let the A8 decide which drive mode is best suited. 

As far as full-fat luxury saloons go, the market here is pretty much a four-cornered fight. We have three German offerings and one from Japanese luxury marque, Lexus.

Among the German brands, the Mercedes-Benz S Class has always been seen as the benchmark the other brands emulate.

Audi’s flagship sedan, the A8 is probably the lesser known of the German ‘Big 3’, and interestingly though, while both Mercedes-Benz and BMW offer their flagship sedans in LWB only variants here, Audi offers both the LWB which we took for a spin a while ago, and also this, the SWB variant; which is to me is quite the ideal flagship sedan, if a larger car is simply a little too much to manoeuvre around, or if you simply do not need to accommodate the likes of David Hasselhoff… I can almost see him mouthing ‘Audi A8, du bist alles was ich will!’. Or even singing that line.

Interestingly, the regular A8 has a 2,998mm wheelbase that makes it closer to that of the mid-tier A6, where the latter is just 74mm shorter; while the gap between the wheels of the LWB A8 is longer by another 130mm between the front and rear wheels. Some totally useless information, the China market A6L has a 3,024mm wheelbase. Alright enough of looking between the car’s wheels.

The A8’s styling is designed to be all business suit, with all the road presence to tell the world that you have arrived. Audi’s current design language, featuring flared quattro arches, are subtly applied, and elegantly understated.

Inside

Pull on the door handle, and the flagship sedan’s suspension elevates the body by 50mm for easier access into the cabin (the ‘Elevated Entry’ is an option that will set you back by almost $27,000). Inside, you will be greeted by ‘Valcona’ ventilated leather seats. Shut the soft-closing door, you will know right away that the interior is just so well insulated, and a world away from the harshness of your daily grind. If you want a plusher interior, you can opt for a more premium ‘Unikat’ upholstery that will set you back an approximate additional $10,000.

For those who are into less clutter, the A8’s dashboard features cleaner lines than its class equivalents. Those air-conditioning vents in the front, remain obscured, and shielded with matching wood open pore wood veneer, only appear when you hit the start button.

Interestingly, while Audi is currently rolling out cars, including the reworked A4 with the new quicker and more advanced MIB3 operating system, the A8 still relies on a half-generation ago MMI Navigation Plus. Operating systems aside, the A8, like the A6 boasts a neat dual screen setup. The upper screen is used mostly for entertainment, SatNav and drive mode setup purposes, while the lower is primarily for controlling the A8’s air-conditioning. Passengers at the rear have access to their very own climate control settings, the angle their respective seats recline and even the operation of the rear sun shade; all through their very own touchpad. Afterall, the A8 is designed to be self-driven, or to be driven in.

Even though the shorter wheelbase means less leg space for those seated at the rear, it is easily sufficient for most who are even as tall or taller than 175cm.

The Drive

The A8 is powered by one of my personal favourite V6 engines. The turbocharged three-litre, in different forms powers an expansive range of vehicles within the automotive group; which in Singapore, includes a few Porsches and even Volkswagen’s flagship Touareg SUV. In the Audi A8, the 3.0 V6 develops 340hp and 500Nm, the latter which is available from as low as 1,350rpm. The engine is further helped by a 48-volt mild hybrid system, which produces an additional 60Nm. For drivers, this translates to effortless acceleration with a silky-smooth delivery. 

The A8 relies on an ZF8hp family 8-speed Tiptronic gearbox to deliver drive all four wheels, and the A8 reaches 100km/h in just 5.6 seconds. Lesser building materials compared to the LWB car translates to just an insignificant 0.1 second advantage.

Audi’s Dynamic Handling System, a standard feature, enhances the A8’s handling through its predictive suspension. This is experienced the most in ‘Dynamic Drive Mode’, where the car’s roll angle is significantly reduced to just two degrees, as opposed to a five-degree tilt when using a more conventional setup. Pitch the luxury sedan into a series of bends, and the A8 rewards with a smoothness and poise that is difficult to match; this despite lugging around almost two-tonnes of metal, leather and sweet open pore wood trim. 

In ‘Comfort Plus’ drive mode, the predictive active suspension leans the car into each turn, by reducing the height on the side the A8 is turning into, while raising ride height on the opposing side of the car. The slight change in angle, reduces the cornering forces that you and your passengers would normally feel when going through a turn. 

During highway cruising, the suspension lowers the body for improved stability, while the rear wheels steer just slightly in the same direction of those in-front for smoother lane changes. The suspension’s reactive wizardry is controlled with the help of a front-facing camera that monitors the road surface ahead during travel; the system even recognises speed humps, and raises the car to significantly reduce the effects of that nasty bump as you cross over.

The same all-wheel steering architecture further improves drivability by reducing the car’s turn circle to 11.4m, making it even more maneuverable than an Audi A5 Sportback, in a real world context, that would be making a U-turn squarely into the second lane in the opposite direction.

The best way to enjoy your driving experience, is to let the A8 decide which drive mode is best suited. The suspension which relies on the car’s 48V electrical system reacts quicker than current hydraulic systems, meaning that a change in road surfaces or in driving behaviour is met by an appropriate change in setup to the suspension. Call it a knee-jerk reaction, but in a good way. 

While the flagship sedan is well equipped to deliver the goods, Audi also has an impressive list of active and passive safety features, too long to even fill Santa’s nice list. But one of the most impressive features I must mention is how quickly the suspension system reacts in the face of an oncoming side impact, by raising the side of the car where the accident would potentially occur, just so that the raised lower sill gets to take on some of the impact absorbing responsibilities.

Our Thoughts

The Audi A8 is truly an technologically advanced luxury car, with plenty going for it. Perhaps it does suffer from being quite underrated. But if you are one who is keen on a car that can deliver quite the sublime driving experience, the A8 will not disappoint at all.

In Summary

We Like

Absolutely fabulous ride characteristics, thanks to the advanced suspension. Smooth engine. Easy to live with and to drive. 

We Don't

Among the big 3 Germans, the A8 does tend to be a little forgettable.

Verdict

A smooth-driving luxury sedan that can soothe your senses.

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Engine

Engine Capacity 2995cc
Engine Type V 6
Compression Ratio 11.2:1
Bore x Stroke (84.5 x 89.0)mm
Power 335bhp @ 5000rpm
Torque 500Nm @ 1370rpm
Power to Weight 174.5 bhp per ton

Performance

Acceleration 5.7s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 250 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 13.3 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 8 -speed Auto Tiptronic
Drive Type F4
Steering Electric

Measurements

Body Type Sedan
Dimension
(L x W x H)
(5172 x 1945 x 1488) mm
Wheelbase 2998 mm
Kerb Weight 1920 kg
Boot Capacity 505 L
Fuel Tank Capacity 90 L

Brakes

Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Ventilated Discs