2013 Audi A8 L 3.0T Road Test & Review: Introduction
Within the ranks of luxury sedans there is an irony.
Each of the major players, Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Lexus, Mercedes, and Porsche has established a unique personality—a certain quality that immediately comes to mind when you think of them. Among the Germans, for Mercedes-Benz it’s luxury, for BMW it’s driving pleasure, for Porsche it’s all-out performance, and when it comes to Audi, it’s technology.
But here’s the ironic part, all of them offer outstanding driving experiences, amazing technology and more than enough luxury to satiate even the most avaricious hedonist. Yet, they’ve each managed to carve out a specific niche by emphasizing one of those aspects over the others in their positioning.
With that said, when it comes to tech, Audi absolutely makes more of it more accessible than all the others. In addition to its outstanding reputation for interior design, Audi has built a reputation for delivering a generous array of personal technology offerings.
Speaking of reputations, Audi’s parent company, Volkswagen is well-known for getting a tremendous amount of work out of smaller engines. For the 2013 model year, a manifestation of this philosophy has migrated into the top model of its luxurious Audi brand as well. The A8 flagship now cradles a V6 powerplant in its engine bay for the first time in its history.
Oh, and one more thing—something many of you may have forgotten (assuming you were ever aware)—the 1994 Audi A8 was the first all-aluminum luxury sedan when it was introduced. The 2013 Audi A8 remains the only all-aluminum luxury sedan on the market. Combining lightweight construction, turbocharging, direct fuel injection, and variable valve timing with a strong contingent of state of the art comfort and convenience tech gear, Audi’s flagship is technological standout on a number of fronts.
The alpha Audi is offered in both long and short wheelbase models, with a choice of three engines. In typical German fashion, the more powerful your engine choice, the more feature-laden the standard equipment list. Thus, our A8 L 3.0T, despite being the long wheelbase version of the car, is also the most “basic” iteration of the top of the line Audi model.
Of course, the fact we used the phrase of “top of the line Audi” says even the most basic version is still going to offer a vastly broad luxe feature set. We’ll get into the details of this in the Features & Controls area of this review, but for now, suffice to say if you go with the V6 A8, you’ll still be rolling smoothly palatial in terms of your accoutrements.
Base price for our A8 L 3.0T test car was $78,500. With $5200 worth of options, $895 in destination charges, and a $350 credit for “making do” with a dual-zone climate control system rather than the standard four-zone climate system, our as tested price came in at $84,245.2013 Audi A8 L 3.0T Road Test & Review: Design
One need only a glance at the A8 to readily determine is place in the hierarchy of automobiles. Its look says top of the line German luxury car both loudly and clearly. Audi’s huge singleframe grille, framed as it is by a set of LED daytime running lights has the effect of clearing traffic out of the fast lane ahead of you almost as well as a set of red and blue flashing lights on your roof. When other drivers people see this car approaching purposefully from the rear they know it means business.
As the A8 passes and they’re treated to the long, low and sleek profile of the big Audi, you’ll note the abundance of appreciative glances involuntarily flashed your way. This is one pretty car, regardless of the color its finished in. The subtly sculpted character line arcing upward from the nose of the car and tracing its shoulder line encourages the eye to flow along the side of the car. This has the effect of inducing a sense of motion, even when the car is static. A pair of chrome-tipped oval exhaust outlets reinforces the impression of power put forth by the face of the car as the A8 rapidly recedes into the distance.2013 Audi A8 L 3.0T Road Test & Review: Comfort & Cargo
As tech-oriented as the Audi A8 is, the car’s interior retains an organically endearing sense of warmth as well. The appointments are all composed of authentic materials, supple leather, highly polished exotic woods and genuine aluminum lace the environment in a gloriously palatial manner.
Our test car was fitted with a pair of heated 18-way adjustable seats; power soft-closing doors, and a power-actuated trunk, capable of opening and closing itself at the touch of a button. Every seat in the Audi A8 is capable of featuring electric adjustability in addition to heating and cooling, as well as separate climate control zones and massage functions. To cap it all off, LED ambient lighting gives the A8’s cabin the feel of an exclusive lounge after dark.
Being a full-size luxury flagship, the A8’s 13.3 cubic feet of cargo space is a bit on the less than generous side. However interior storage space includes map pockets in the front seats, door panels, and a roomy glove box and two center storage wells—one up front and one in the rear armrest.2013 Audi A8 L 3.0T Road Test & Review: Features & Controls
The standard feature set for our A8 L 3.0T tester included a power glass sunroof, adaptive Xenon plus headlamps, LED daytime running lights, plush leather seats, power rear and side-window sunshades, and keyless entry and start. The car also included Audi’s MMI system with navigation, a rear view camera, and a Bose Surround audio system.
As regards source material for entertainment, if it currently exists, the A8 is equipped to handle it. These days dedicated iPod connectivity is a given in this class, so the A8 also features a USB port, an Aux audio input port, Bluetooth audio streaming, two SD card ports, a six-disc DVD/CD changer, and a 20-gig hard drive
Audi’s Multimedia Interface (MMI) has long been lauded as the most intuitive of the new generation of dial-and-monitor systems used to actuate comfort and convenience features. With this new A8 MMI is even farther ahead of the competition, thanks to MMI touch. Placed to the left of the MMI dial on the A8’s center console is a touchpad that can be used to input a destination into the navigation system, call up contacts for the communications system and access the presets for the radio.
Speaking of contacts, you can program the A8’s system to remember certain numbers, even if a different phone is paired. Maps for the nav system are downloaded over a 3G connection from Google Earth, which means you never have to worry about updating your navigation system ever again.
Regarding audio, the A8’s optional 1400-watt, 19-speaker Bang and Olufsen system wows passengers with retractable tweeters that emerge from the dash when the system is activated—in addition to some of the best sound quality you’ll ever experience in an automobile.2013 Audi A8 L 3.0T Road Test & Review: Safety & Ratings
Standard safety kit includes a driver and front passenger airbag supplemental restraint system, side curtain airbags for all seating positions, and knee airbags for front seat occupants. Thorax bags are also included for the rear outboard seating positions. Tire pressure monitoring, ABS, along with stability and traction control are partnered with adaptive headlamps, an anti-theft alarm system, and three-point safety belts with pretensioning and force limiters are to be found in the flagship Audi as well.
Neither NHTSA nor the IIHS has crash test data for the 2013 Audi A8 L 3.0T.2013 Audi A8 L 3.0T Road Test & Review: Engine/Fuel Economy
Another audio source for the big Audi is the newly-installed 3.0-liter, 333-horsepower V6 engine. Capable of quietly purring around town in deference to its position as the flagship model of a luxury brand, and growling powerfully under hard acceleration when called upon to propel the flagship model of a performance-oriented luxury brand, the engine produces 325 ft-lbs of torque. Its power flows through an eight-speed automatic transmission before it is routed to all four wheels.
Renowned for its outstanding traction and contribution to roadholding, Audi’s all-wheel drive (Quattro) system has been updated for this application as well. In normal mode, output has been biased to transmit sixty percent of the torque to the rear wheels. This endows the sedan with all the benefits of all-wheel drive, while retaining that crucial rear-drive feel true driving enthusiasts covet.2013 Audi A8 L 3.0T Road Test & Review: Driving Impressions
Quiet, comfortable and smooth are the hallmarks of the A8 on the move.
The driving position is careful thought out to provide ready access to all needed controls. Remarkably, as complex as the tech the Audi harbors can be, interfacing with it is outstandingly intuitive. Things simply work the way you expect them to.
Yes, pairing your phone for Bluetooth and/or setting up the WiFi connection for a smartphone might set you to thumbing the owner’s manual. But frankly, if you’re going to get the most out of the features a car of this caliber has to offer, some quality time spent with the owner’s manual is an excellent idea—regardless of the manufacturer. While this is not absolutely required to operate the A8, there is considerable intelligence regarding the subtle nuances of its feature-set to be derived from a marked perusal.
Underway, the big Audi is quick off the line, swift on the highway, and delightfully agile in the twisties. And frankly, that’s what cars in this category are supposed to do—cosset when you want to chill and dance when the music gets funky. Audi’s Drive Select system enables the pilot to calibrate the responsiveness of the car specifically to the task at hand by adjusting throttle and steering response, as well as the compliance of the air suspension system.
While some might be worried fitting a V6 engine to a car of this size might hamstring its performance potential, the reality of the situation is quite the opposite. Keep in mind aluminum construction endows the A8 with considerable lightness (compared to its competitors). When it comes to performance-oriented driving, you can easily rip along in the A8 as if it were an S4 if you choose to do so. In fact, the A8’s 3.0T supercharged V6 is the exact same engine Audi’s engineers use in the high performance S4 and S5 models.
Audi’s product people quote a 5.5-second run to 60 with the V6. Our testing bore this out handily. Further, the EPA estimates the 2013 Audi A8 L 3.0T’s fuel economy to be 18-mpg in the city, 28 on the highway, and 21 mpg combined. We averaged some 23 miles per gallon in our mix of highway cruising, around town trundling, and back road running.
Helping achieve this fuel economy rating is start-stop technology. While the car is at a prolonged idle with your foot on the brake pedal, such as stopped at traffic signal or a railroad crossing, the engine will temporarily turn off. Release the brake pedal, the engine restarts. While this works well, if you shift the transmission to neutral and set the parking brake to relax while you wait, the engine restarts. On the face of it, this sounds like no big deal, but it is something of an inconvenience if you’re used to driving this way (which we are).2013 Audi A8 L 3.0T Road Test & Review: Final Thoughts
It’s been said all boats float in a rising tide.
With the A8, Audi does us all a favor, regardless of whether your preference in mega-dollar luxo-cruisers is BMW, Cadillac, Lexus, Mercedes, or Porsche. The level of tech combined with the luxury and performance with which Audi has infused the A8 means all the others have to continually step up their games to match.
Thanks to the Audi A8, the tide is really high.2013 Audi A8 L 3.0T Road Test & Review: Pros & Cons
• An abundance of easy to use tech features
• Outstanding interior design, fit and finish
• All-wheel drive
• Luxury car style and ride, with the handling and performance of a sports sedan
• Small-ish trunk