2011 Audi A8
The best way to describe the 2011 Audi A8 luxury sedan is “simply stunning” - from its arresting exterior style, to the unique elegance of the interior all the way down to how the burbling 4.2-liter V-8 emits a soundtrack clearly designed for the task of inspiring the weariest of souls. Yes, the 2011 Audi A8 may cost nearly $90,000 in its as tested form here but every time we drove it we felt like we were a part of something very special. Not a creepy kind of “special” but rather the kind where a positive self-image may be your only noticeable life result.
The 2011 Audi A8 is the top of the line luxury sedan in this newly resurgent German automaker’s very impressive model range of sedans, coupes, convertibles and luxury crossovers. It is also available in a long-wheelbase model that increases rear seat legroom (our tester was short wheelbase) for those people who like to be chauffeured or give their business clients plenty of room to stretch in the back when taking them out to lunch. No matter which length A8 you choose, we found that most owners will probably wind up preferring to drive their ultra-luxury Audi A8 themselves most of the time.
Your 2011 Audi A8 can be nearly as unique as you want it to be, as well, thanks to the “Audi Select” program which allows buyers to order this vehicle with any one of 21 interior leather colors and 9 additional paint schemes beyond the broad palette of hues on offer from Audi’s standard menu. The A8 may not be as bespoke an automobile as a Bentley or Rolls Royce but the 2011 Audi A8 offers so much uniqueness that it makes for a smarter, lower cost alternative to those bad boys.
Given the number of ways you can outfit a 2011 Audi A8, there is no reason that you should see yourself coming and going all of the time on the road. When you can easily spend over $100,000 on a top-of-the-line S-Class, 7 Series with Jaguar even finally crossing that tally with special-edition XJ sedans, we think that spending that kind of cash should ensure that your vehicle will impress the commoners.
We must admit, as well, that we haven’t been as devastated to see a road test vehicle go as we were when Audi came to retrieve the A8. We may have only road tested the A8 for seven days, but in that time we reveled in the peerless quality, style, imposing presence and dangerously understated sex appeal. So come and enjoy the ride in a 2011 Audi A8—we promise the gaping Mako Shark grille out front won’t swallow you whole. Or will it?
2011 Audi A8: Exterior
Sure, there are always the de facto choices like the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes S-Class but while those models may be excellent from an engineering perspective, they lack any of the presence, panache and occasion that the 2011 Audi A8’s exterior styling possesses. The Jaguar XJ is an impressively crafted piece of work and the A8’s truest competitor (the Jaguar is also made of aluminum) but it can look odd from certain angles to our eyes. Now, if you are thinking about a Lexus LS sedan clearly you need a much calmer and sedated form of luxury, much like one would imagine to be true of Ann Coulter after accidentally being named crown marshall of the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade.
Don’t get us wrong, it’s okay to find the buttery, Velveeta smoothness of the Lexus to be appealing but we promise it will never raise your pulse much higher than your blood pressure medicine allows. Maybe check out some other softer sprung rivals like a used VW Phaeton, Cadillac STS and pretty much anything that wears the Lincoln badge.
This aluminum bodied Audi may not sell in as great a numbers as the now even more hideous 2011 BMW 7 Series or classic Mercedes S-Class, but when you are spending this much money wouldn’t you rather be noticed a bit rather than blend into the crowd? The wide chrome mouth with the strutting gangster-like stance of the 2011 Audi A8 gives this four door announcement of your “arrival” a true stylistic attitude. That’s rare to see.
If you are wondering why we are so blasé about the Audi’s competition, Autobytel.com is based in South Orange County in California where BMWs and Mercedes models seemingly outnumber even Toyotas on the road. We have often wondered if keys with the three pointed star and propeller logo are handed out to drivers as they cross the county line into this land where Botox and Real Housewives roam free.
But this myth from behind “The Orange Curtain” is purely a fairy tale. Apparently Mercedes and BMW just sell and lease that many cars here. But even on these roads among the Lamborghini ignoring drivers who use them every day, the 2011 Audi A8 even garnered a number of parking lot complements. Or maybe people were just afraid the gaping chrome front end was going to inhale their children out of their car seats 3 spots over in a Cadillac Escalade.
2011 Audi A8: Interior
Our test 2011 Audi A8 had a starting price of $78,050 and came with a Sport Package ($5,900—20 inch 5-spoke alloy wheels, summer tires, dynamic steering, quattro with Sports differential, 22-way front power climate controlled sport seats with massage, Valcona leather with diamond pattern stitching), Convenience Package ($2,350—keyless entry, power open/close trunk, back-up camera with parking assist), Full LED Headlights ($1,400) and a full leather package ($750) that with the $875 destination fee brought us to an $89,235 sticker price.
The 2011 Audi A8 is not an automobile that you simply drive but rather a spiritual experience that heightens your senses and spoils your expectations of a new car with every passing mile.
The coloring and finish of the leather interior trim/seats, the velour on the inner door panels, the real, real aluminum inner door handles not to mention the woods and metals that were all across the dashboard which was perfectly ergonomic but incorporated the drama of a hidden navigation screen/multi-media menu that majestically rises whenever you start the car. Sure, it’s over the top and intimidating but that is what a full size German luxury sedan is all about. If that’s not what you want perhaps we could recommend a 2011 Lexus ES350.
Even on a very short trip to Kohl’s we drew a crowd wanting to see the power open/close trunk mechanism. Had these people never seen a power tailgate on an SUV before? Similar concept with increased laziness in regards to getting a power operated trunk. But, hey, many expert male manicures have been undone in such trunk closing maneuvers so perhaps Audi knows its audience.
One thing Audi improved upon for 2011 was the A8’s cupholder size as it is a big improvement and can hold all but the very largest beverage sizes. But when will Audi stop making sunglass holders sized so small that even Smurfette would have a “Smurfin” time fitting her tiny shades in there.
2011 Audi A8: Driving Impressions and Safety
All 2011 Audi A8 in the U.S. are powered by a 4.2-liter V-8 that produces 372 horsepower and 328 lb-ft of torque which is sent to all four wheels via the quattro all-wheel drive system through a refined eight-speed automatic. Thanks to the A8’s aluminum skin which gives it a lower curb weight than even the two wheel drive S-Class and 7 Series, this Audi can get away with using a smaller and more fuel efficient V-8 engine that is rated by the EPA at 17 mpg city and 27 mpg highway.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t resist the go fast pedal and wound up with a fuel economy average of 14.1 mpg over the week. Pardon us for our wanton waste of fossil fuels, but the A8, despite its very large size, calls out to be driven hard. It digs into corners with the tenacity of your average jungle carnivore holding onto its latest bloody kill. Steering feel is picture perfect with none of the over-lightness the artificial heaviness that can blight so many luxury steering racks.
Our test short wheelbase A8 was equipped Audi Drive Select as standard which allows you to decide between four firmness settings for the suspension via a centrally mounted control screen. We always left the A8 in the sportiest “Dynamic” setting and never once did a passenger complain about a harsh ride but the utter lack of body roll around corners in this very wide sedan was something to see, indeed.
As you would imagine, the 2011 Audi A8 is built to the highest safety standards and is an IIHS Top Safety Pick. The aluminum body panels which make the A8 lighter also help increase the torsional crash test rigidity this top line Audi enjoys. Do be aware that in the case of a fender bender, aluminum bodied cars are generally more expensive to repair at the body shop. So check with your carrier to see if that will affect your A8 car insurance premiums.
2011 Audi A8: Conclusion
The 2011 Audi A8 is, quite simply, a luxury sedan designed for a select few who want cutting edge technology, aggressive styling and to never be confused for a real estate agent in an S-Class or 7 Series. Apologies to any home sellers out there struggling, but those two cars are perfect for impressing potential clients with their very large back seats. The funny thing is the new 2011 A8 can do all that too while guaranteeing a truly “surprise and delight” interior experience for all visitors.
It is definitely the chunky, low and menacing styling that gives the A8 the power to pull off any glamorous yet dangerous Hollywood style entrance no matter if you are just driving it through the In N’ Out Drive Thru in Southern California. Why not? The A8’s grille makes it look a bit like the Jaws villain in the James Bond classic film The Spy Who Loved Me with Roger Moore where a Lotus Espirit that turned into an underwater submarine stole the show.
Okay, no movie with Roger Moore is by any stretch of imagination a “classic,” per se, but “Spy” was much better than “Moonraker” which single handedly led to a 700% increase in drive-in movie theater narcolepsy when it was released. This will sound odd but as a result of our constant exposure to the 2011 Audi A8’s “Jaws” grille, we think it’s time for Audi to petition with the James Bond 007 franchise (get them away from Aston Martin and BMW please!) as an A8 luxury sedan would be the perfect getaway car a new breed of Bond super-villain.
No matter what happens with every 2011 Audi A8 sold here in the United States, we can guarantee one thing—you have invested not only in a car that will impress people you know but also one that will help your heart beat that much faster every morning. I think they call that “feeling alive.”