Review: Audi A8

04 Aug 15 Tim Barnes-Clay

Powerful, sophisticated and loaded with a host of awesome tech, the Audi A8 delivers a luxurious driving experience.

The first words out of my mouth when my Audi A8 test car was collected were “I’m going to miss that car”.

And there’s a reason for that: the German saloon I had on test made my week far more relaxing than I had envisaged.

The seven days I had with the A8 involved three trips to two different airports.

The A8 looks after you

Audi A8 side

Heathrow always involves the infamous M25 and, from where I live, Stansted encompasses the equally evil A14.

Unless you leave at midnight, a queue is inevitable on these stretches of tarmac.

And even if you do set off at the witching hour, thousands of orange, hypnotic cones seem determined to stop you making sense of anything resembling a road.

However, whether driving at 70mph or sat still in a jam, the A8 looks after you.

Five star hotel on wheels

The soft leather seats, the hushed cabin and the sound system make you feel as though a five star hotel has been given four wheels.

When there’s a chance to bury your foot into the deep carpet, the smooth powertrain of the 3.0 TDI Quattro SE Executive 258 PS tiptronic, on test here, pulls the scenery passed the side of your head rapidly.

It is done in such an unfussy way that three figures can suddenly appear a little too near the speedo needle for comfort.

Pure performance aside, handling is only average – it doesn’t offer the fun available from, say, the Jaguar XJ, mainly due to its rather impassive steering.

Lavish features

Business man in Audi A8

Traction is nothing short of awesome, however, due to the Quattro four-wheel-drive system.

The specification levels of the Audi are lavish, and include features such as double glazing and technology including HDD satellite navigation and a fingertip-sensitive infotainment control system.

Over and above the basic SE equipment, the SE Executive, adds features such as the Audi parking system with reversing camera, keyless entry and exit, and powered, hands-free, boot lid operation.

New additions at this level for the 2016 Model Year include powered door closure, comfort front seats with 22-way powered adjustment and memory function, and privacy glass for the rear windows.

Hi-tech LED headlights

In addition to a purposeful new look, the exterior specification of the Audi A8 I drove had hi-tech MatrixBeam LED headlights fitted.

This uses banks of LEDs that can be individually shut off to avoid dazzling oncoming and leading traffic, while retaining full beam illumination.

Inside, my press car also had a 600-watt Bose sound system upgrade and Mobile Phone Preparation with in-car internet-based services.

Needless to say, this all served to make my life easy during my commutes.

Sophisticated and sturdy

In spite of its plethora of talents and refreshed, slightly more modern exterior, the A8 still looks a little forgettable.

In the sense that it’s like all the other premium executive saloons you see double-parked outside restaurants in Mayfair or in the car parks of the UK’s top FTSE companies.

The A8’s cabin is sophisticated and sturdily built and the car is rapid, whichever model you opt for.

Indeed, the 258bhp 3.0-litre TDI diesel, driven for this review, is as fast as you’re ever likely to need.

Pros & cons

  • Power ✔
  • Sophistication ✔
  • Build quality ✔
  • Kit ✔
  • Forgettable aesthetics X

Fast facts

  • Max speed: 155 mph
  • 0-62 mph: 5.9 secs
  • Combined mpg: 49.6
  • Engine layout: 2967cc, 6 cylinder, 24 valve turbocharged diesel
  • Max. power (bhp): 258
  • Max. torque (lb.ft): 428
  • CO2: 149 g/km 
  • Price: £62,190