2012 A8 New Car Test Drive
The Audi A8 is an impressive blend of performance, technology and luxury. Its 372-horsepower 4.2-liter V8 is capable of propelling this big sedan from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just 5.7 seconds or cruise for hours on end at 100 mph. Quattro all-wheel drive makes it feel like it's riding on rails. The A8's cabin is luxurious and equipped with the latest in technology.
The A8 was redesigned for the 2011 model year, making it the newest and most advanced of the big German luxury sedans. The BMW 7 Series was redesigned for 2009, while the current-generation Mercedes-Benz S-Class has been with us since the 2007 model year.
There are only minor changes to the 2012 Audi A8 lineup. Among them: Audi connect integrates Google Earth into the navigation system, providing realistic panoramic views and high-resolution 3D satellite and aerial imagery in place of the road-map look of less sophisticated systems. A Camera Zoom feature allows closer views. Real-time traffic information is available through the SiriusXM Traffic service. WiFi connectivity is available inside the cabin for up to eight devices.
The 2012 Audi A8 comes in standard-length and long-wheelbase A8L versions.
The Audi A8L features an extra-roomy back seat that can be decked out with reclining seats, a powered footrest, and a built-in refrigerator. The long-wheelbase variant is offered with either the 4.2-liter V8 or a 6.3-liter W12 that delivers 500 horsepower and 463 pound-feet of torque. All A8 models come with the 8-speed Tiptronic transmission.
The A8 is a true luxury car with high-quality furnishings and great attention to detail. A superb Bang & Olufsen surround system with 19 speakers and a 1400-watt amplifier is available, along with ventilated and massaging seats, rearview camera, sports suspension, and a heated steering wheel. The A8L offers a rear seat entertainment center with a pair of 10-inch LCD screens and individual audio controls.
Freshly redesigned, the A8 features a giant trapezoidal grille that has become an Audi trademark. Taillights are LED, the light-emitting diode technology that is becoming a hallmark of upscale cars. If the option box is checked, the high beams, low beams, turn indicators and side marker and running lights are all LED as well, and we've found the carefully arrayed LEDs produce an even, wide pattern of very white light with no hot spots.
In spite of its size and weight, the A8 provides sporty performance and handling, responding quickly to changes in direction. When pushed hard, there is little understeer or oversteer, benefits of the balanced chassis and Audi quattro all-wheel drive. At the same time, directional stability on long straight stretches of road inspires confidence. The A8 is among the world's best high-speed cruisers.
Audi's MMI multi-media interface employs a touchpad embedded in the center console to control the navigation and sound systems. The pad is multi-talented, offering functions ranging from back lighted number displays for audio presets or owner-programmed functions to scrolling through displayed menus to handwriting recognition (printed block letters and numbers) for keying in navigational requests, like addresses or city names.
The 2012 Audi A8 comes in three models: A8 4.2 ($78,750), A8L 4.2 ($84,700), A8L W12 ($133,500). A8L models have a 5-inch longer wheelbase. Both 4.2 models are powered by a 372-horsepower V8; the W12 is rated 500 horsepower. All A8 models come with an 8-speed Tiptronic transmission and quattro all-wheel drive.
Standard features include charcoal filtered automatic dual zone climate control; heated 18-way power front seats; leather upholstery and leather-trimmed three-spoke multi-function steering wheel with shift paddles; leather trimmed shift lever; the usual trio of powered accessories plus a rear window sunshade, tilt and telescope steering column and tilt and slide glass sunroof; cruise control; keyless start/stop; auto-dim inside mirror with compass; voice-recognition navigation system with Audi connect; premium Bose surround sound system sharing an 8-inch color display supplemented by a 7-inch driver information display in the instrument cluster; HD and satellite radio (the latter with 3-month trial subscription); programmable garage and gate remote; Bluetooth capability; cooled glove box; and 255/45R19 tires on alloy wheels.
The A8L adds power door closing; power trunk; power rear and manual side door window sunshades; four-spoke multi-function steering wheel with shift paddles; keyless entry; and front and rear parking sensors with rearview camera.
Options include a Premium Package ($2000) with 22-way power adjustable, ventilated front seats with lumbar support and massage functions; Driver Assistance Package ($3000) with adaptive cruise control, out-of-lane and blind spot warnings and pre-sense plus that warns of potential collision scenarios and prepares for them, including seat adjustments, window closings, emergency braking and seatbelt pre-tensioning; Cold Weather Package ($800) with heated steering wheel, heated rear seats and rear seat/trunk pass through; automatic four-zone climate control ($950) with separate controls for outboard rear seats; solar sunroof ($790) that powers the ventilation system to circulate fresh air while the ignition is off; thermal night vision ($2300) with color-coded and audible driver warnings for highlighted pedestrians; dual pane acoustic and security glass ($600); Bang & Olufsen advanced sound system ($6300) with 19 speakers and 1400-watt amplifier; and full LED headlamp system ($1600) comprising high and low beams, turn signals and daytime running lights.
The A8 Convenience Package ($2900) adds keyless entry, power trunk and door closing, and the park assist system. The Sport Package ($5900) includes 265/40R20 tires on 20-inch alloy wheels, dynamic steering with variable rate and assist, adaptive sports suspension, sport rear differential, the 22-way front seats and special leather upholstery.
A8L options include a rear-seat entertainment system ($3000) with dual 10-inch LCD screens and individual media controls. The Rear Seat Comfort Package ($3200) has reclining heated power rear seats, rear seat ventilation, four-zone climate control and rear vanity mirrors. The Executive Rear Seat Package ($12,500) essentially gives the back seat the limousine treatment by combining the Comfort Package with the rear seat entertainment system, a power foot rest for the right-hand seat and a 10.4-liter refrigerator in an extended center console. The A8L Drive Select Plus Package ($2300) adds the sport differential and dynamic steering.
The A8L W12 makes the Premium, Sport, and Cold Weather Packages standard; and adds ventilation and massage for the rear seats; the rear-seat entertainment system with dual 10-inch screens, the four-zone automatic climate control; and a Panorama sunroof, among other indulgences. The interior is configured for four passengers with a full-length center console, although a conventional five-passenger layout is available as a no-charge option. Either way, the seats are upholstered in special diamond-stitched leather. Since many of the goodies from the A8L Executive Package are already standard, a similar package for the W12 ($3200) adds only the power footrest, the refrigerator, and a table in the center console.
Safety features on all A8s include frontal airbags and front and rear side-impact and curtain airbags; electronic stability control with brake assist; traction control; ABS; EBD; braking pre-sense; all-wheel drive; tire pressure monitoring system; and rear seat child safety seat anchors (LATCH). The optional Driver Assistance Package adds the out-of-lane and blind spot warnings and the active braking and seatbelt pre-tensioning.