To the average Joe, the base price of most German luxury sedans is enough to cause sticker shock. When adding options, prices could easily cause a coronary. A base Audi A8, for example, goes for about $69,000. If you opt for the A8L W12, the price leaps to $119,000. After you check the option box for 20-inch rims, the upgraded audio system, and adaptive cruise control, the price has officially left your league at $138,000.
There is one other option you can get for your A8, bullet-proofing. This $547,000 option can stop a 7.62 millimeter caliber bullet dead in its tracks. Fortified floor plating can nullify a hand grenade or IED. Also included is an emergency exit system. If the doors can no longer be opened normally, an Audi-patented pyrotechnic system simply blows apart the joins between the doors and the vehicle body and you walk out without even grabbing the door latch. The A8L W12 is certified to the highest European standard bullet-proofing classes B6+ and B7. Of course there's also a dual DVD screen and refrigerator with a bar for rear passengers so you can party in style even when you're being attacked.
This $685,000 A8 shown above is believed to have been ordered by German politician Edmund Stoiber. We don't know how well-received German politicians are, but it looks like they prepare for the worst. Find out more about the Audi A8L W12 Security after the jump.
Thanks for the tip Warren!
Systematic security: The new Audi A8 Security
The new Audi A8L W12 quattro Security offers mobility at an exclusive level allied to high levels of security. The armour-plated luxury saloon impressively combines sportiness and comfort. The quattro permanent four-wheel drive is unique in the security vehicle segment, and provides enhanced driving dynamics compared with its predecessor.
Compared with its predecessor, the Audi A8 Security offers its occupants enhanced security against attack. A key factor in achieving this is the car's discreet appearance. Despite its fully armour-plated passenger cell made of steel, glass and aramide, to look at it is barely distinguishable from a standard production A8. Moreover, the use of special steel permits a high degree of precision in manufacture of the armour-plating elements. As a result, there is practically no impairment of the interior comfort zone.
The complex production process at the Audi plant in Neckarsulm enables all the individual components to be perfectly attuned to each other. As a result, Audi is able to offer unmatched levels of security.
The armour-plating offers ballistic protection against hard-core bullets up to 7.62 millimetre calibre. Tests with hand grenades and explosives have also proved that the floor plating is able to withstand blasts from below. Other tests have evidenced the high strength of the roof and side panels of the new A8L W12 quattro Security. The bullet-proofing of the new Audi A8 Security has been independently assessed by the German Federal Criminal Police Office (the Bundeskriminalamt). The car is certified to the highest bullet-proofing classes B6+ and B7 (European standard).
Drive train and chassis
The new Audi A8L W12 quattro Security is powered by the potent 12-cylinder unit. A power output of 331 kW (450 bhp), six-litre engine capacity and 580 Newton metres of torque deliver impressive propulsion despite the weight of the armour-plating. The transmission ratio of the tiptronic six-speed automatic transmission with the dynamic shift program (DSP) is specially tailored to the needs of the model, as is the brake system. The electronically controlled adaptive air suspension system is likewise specially adapted to cope with the vehicle's additional weight, and delivers outstanding driving dynamics and high levels of comfort. The system also enables the driver to choose from four different setups, ranging from sport to high comfort. This can also be used to vary the ground clearance as necessary.
In order to deliver optimum handling, the Security model's electronic stabilisation program ESP assists the driving dynamics by automatically braking within a controllable range if the car deviates from the desired steering direction. The quattro permanent four-wheel drive system ensures that optimum grip is maintained in all road and weather conditions. This means the full engine power can be transferred to the road for longer without the electronic control systems having to intervene. The new A8 Security thus offers a standard of driving dynamics which can be crucial in dangerous situations or when escape is necessary.
The cockpit of the Audi A8 Security is clearly laid-out, enabling the driver to see all the key instrumentation quickly and easily. The Multi Media Interface MMI allows the driver to control the key vehicle functions centrally from a console. An intercom system permits communication between the occupants and people outside the vehicle without having to open the windows. The windows can be almost fully lowered if so required – an unusual benefit on an armour-plated vehicle.
The Audi A8 Security is fitted with an emergency exit system, preventing the interior from becoming a trap for the occupants in an emergency situation. If the doors can no longer be opened normally, an Audi-patented pyrotechnic system simply blows apart the joins between the doors and the vehicle body. This enables the occupants to exit the vehicle quickly and relatively effortlessly. No other manufacturer of armour-plated vehicles offers a system of this kind.
The new Audi A8 Security features its own fire extinguisher system, with spray jets located in the engine compartment, on the underbody and in the wheel arches. The extinguisher system is activated by temperature sensors or manually by way of a button in the centre console. The passenger compartment features a smoke extractor to provide additional ventilation.
The tyres are fitted with electronic pressure monitors and the PAX run-flat system. This allows the car to be driven on for up to 100 kilometres at a top speed of 80 km/h, even if a tyre has suffered a complete loss of pressure.
LED flashers in the exterior mirrors and a quick and easy-to-fit beacon light draw attention to the Audi A8L W12 quattro Security as and when needed.
The new Audi A8 Security offers protection allied to mobility at an exclusive level: a fax, telephone, video and display monitors turn the saloon's interior into a fully-featured mobile office. The centre console houses a built-in GSM telephone with a hands-free unit as well as the mobile phone fitting. The fax machine is located underneath the rear armrest, making it easy to access without disturbing the elegance of the vehicle's interior.
These features are complemented by a range of deluxe extras such as a coolbox with bar compartment and a DVD player. The high-performance coolbox is located behind the rear armrest, and offers space for two one-litre bottles and two glasses. Requests for custom features to personalise each vehicle can also be accommodated, of course.
Only a professionally trained driver is capable of controlling a vehicle in extreme situations. In view of this, Audi offers buyers of its armour-plated models the facility to dispatch two drivers on a special training course. "Driving schools teach you to drive the car, but not to control it. Our training course actively provokes critical driving situations to enable drivers to learn how to handle them," says Freddy Kottulinsky, head of Audi Security Training. The training is oriented to the highest security demands, and teaches drivers to maintain full control of their vehicle in extreme situations. The driving skills taught are of the highest standard. Allied to the technical features of the new Audi A8 Security, this ensures high levels of mobile security.
The new Audi A8L W12 quattro Security is the fifth generation of Audi armour-plated luxury saloons. It represents the highpoint of a tradition stretching as far back as 1928, to the Horch 8 type 375. Weapons testing of security vehicles has been carried out ever since that time. Heads of state, government ministers and top business executives have been riding in Audi security-enhanced saloons since 1980 – initially in the Audi 100, and since 1994 in the Audi A8.