2011 Audi A8 L | road test

Posted on Aug 15, 2011 by
2011 Audi A8L 4.2 quattro

2011 A8L 4.2 quattro

Flagships are a culmination of what car manufacturers do and the Audi A8L is one such example. In recent years it has been clawing back on its competition the and the Mercedes S-class trying to rid itself of the second tier badge. This time around, it has got its game face on.  Dear competition, Beware or at least be aware!

STYLE EYE

2011 Audi A8L 4.2 quattro

Less dramatic boot end

In publications the world over, journos speak how Audi’s ownership has improved Lamborghini’s quality, less discussed is how Audi has absorbed the mystique that Lambo endorsed for the many years. The all new A8L has been styled with certain verve. Under the night sky the tick mark shaped LED head lamps are the angry sinister eyes of the car, parted by a massive multi-slat chrome grill. This is Audi’s way of making a statement without being trashy or loud. Thought clouds above bystanders read “This car looks expensive but what is it?” The rear end is less dramatic though. It’s very A4 like therefore VW Jetta like, its all good but not in a $ 100,000 car.

2011 Audi A8L 4.2 quattro

Opt for the Burgundy leather / piano black trim over the Beige / birch wood trim

At 5267mm, the A8 is clearly the longest in its segment but you don’t get a feel for its dimensions until you try parking it. We were fortunate to get our hands on 2 very different A8Ls. One as seen in pics, finished in sand brown paint with B for Boring and B for Beige interiors and the standard very classy 19” rims. Interior décor was finished in light birch wood with hints of brushed aluminium. Not so much our style. The 2nd car however was finished in white with ludicrously sporty 21” RS style rims and a very beautiful burgundy leather interior matched well with piano black trim. The burgundy quilted leather is quite exquisite and comes off beautifully in sunlight.

2011 Audi A8L 4.2 quattro

You can choose to make this a 4 seater or 5 seater

We couldn’t help but notice the space age vibe the A8 exudes, from the Tron movie themed ambient lighting to the consellation of buttons on the centre console. I even recall a youtube comment – In the year 2050, Audi will build spaceships. Some may call the A8 beautiful, some simplistic, in any case Audi has managed to embed character.

ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE 

The A8L is fitted with Audi’s home grown 4.2-litre FSI V8. A litre less or a cylinder less and it would be unworthy of a flagship. Dyno readings indicate a max. output of  372bhp at 6800 rpm and 445 Nm of torque at 3,500 rpm. The 8 speed transmission has the largest number of ratios in the industry, a laurel shared with Lexus and BMW. No cutting edge R-tronic no DSG, even so no complaints. In its evolution, the motor has gained 26 more horses and has become a smooth operator. We could never match Audi’s 0 to 100 km/h time of 5.8 seconds, our best being a 7.0 second run. Albeit the A8 not matching factory claims, the car at no instance felt restrained. It responds and surges ahead with little hesitation. Braking was responsive and confident and with limited tail end swagger. All ingredients of a driver’s car, we assume. Engine noise is kind of mixer/grinder stuff but at the full throttle the exhaust hits the right notes.

RIDE & HANDLING

2011 Audi A8L 4.2 quattro

10.2″ screens – largest in class

The A8 is amongst the few cars in its class to offer all wheel drive. The quattro drive train is rear biased with a 60: 40 split. On demand the ratio can be reversed or up to 80% can go to the rear. For a GCC customer this equates to bad weather performance (a rainy week in December maybe?!) and tarmac hugging grip. Quick turn ins are not its forte, mind you this is not a RS badged car plus the 2 ton weight you haul around is bound to show its ugly face. Mid corner grip is good though and if you are gentle with the steering input it will hold desired lines around curves.

The standard 19” offer seeking supreme ride comfort without giving away much of the flickability, the optional 21” wheels are a visual treat but the ride can get crashy. On the whole the experience is driver oriented and dare we say, fun to drive.

 FEATURES, COMFORT & PRACTICALITY

2011 Audi A8L 4.2 quattroThis segment of cars is all about spoiling oneself as I did for almost a week. The driver’s seat is 22-way power adjustable and be surprised if you can’t find yourself the perfect orthopedic posture. The rear seat passengers benefit from the 13cm extended legroom in the L version over the regular A8. The piece de resistance however is the optional reclining rear seat behind the front passenger which offers first-class luxury. Press a button or two and the footrest pops out from the back of the front seat and the back seat becomes properly reclined. Think hammock on a beach…in a car!!!! Get the picture! After you sink yourself into the ocean of leather, how about a back massage?! Controls are easy to use and you can modulate the frequency and pressure of the massage. Quite the handy tool – keep nagging spouses at peace.

2011 Audi A8L 4.2 quattro

The standard 19″ rims add a touch of class

The Navigation system is a smart piece of kit, easy to use with great rendering of city structures. The 1,400 Watt 19 speaker Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System recreates the pure symphony of live music, at time feeling over synthesized. But those tweeters popping out of the dashboard are definite to be on everyone’s wish list. Alternatively you can order it with Bose audio which is nothing less. The Rear Seat Entertainment system includes a 10.2” screen the biggest on any car we have seen. It lacks a USB port for your easy plug in music but you do get two SD car slots on the centre console???!!! Ripping music into hard drive is also possible but it will test your patience.

Another interesting gadget is the touch pad. In Radio mode, it displays 1 to 6 stations and in Navigation mode you can type in those destinations with your finger. Yes it’s got hand writing recognition. The car also comes with Night Vision capability, Audi Lane Assist and Blind spot indicator.

Few niggles we aught to share are:-

2011 Audi A8L 4.2 quattroThe fire extinguisher just lays there in the front passenger foot well, clearly an after thought from Audi. The turn signal lights are small and inaudible. The shift lever needs a bit of a tugging and the steering could use more power assistance at low speeds.

FUEL ECONOMY & EMISSIONS 

In the EU cycle it consumes just 9.7l/100km and emits 224gms of CO2/km, an improvement of 11% over its predecessor. On the highway our car returned 9l/100km at 120km/h, 8l/100km at 100km/h and an incredible 7l/100km at 80km/h.

PRICING & WARRANTY

The new L 4.2 quattro is available starting from USD 97,550 i.e. Dhs. 355,000 in the GCC. A fully loaded A8L can touch a mortgage encouraging Dhs. 500,000.

 VERDICT

2011 Audi A8L 4.2 quattro

Not quite the flagship experience – A good car none the less

For the money spent the A8 has lots to offer even in this tech-overkill luxo-cruiser segment. It looks and feels new, chic and even rebellious which is quite unlike Audi. The gizmos are a definite entertainer and they never seem to get old. The driver experience is engaging without being on a knife edge. It’s spacious, comfortable and safe. Its got the goods. But somehow it lacks the pure flagship experience we expect. Perhaps the market leaders hold their position for good reason ….. at the cost of an extra kidney and a half, of course. We say keep the kidney and test drive the A8.

 Specifications:

Engine: 4.2-litre FSI V8
Max power (bhp @ rpm): 372bhp @ 6800 rpm
Max torque (Nm @ rpm): 445Nm @ 3,500 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed tiptronic
Driving wheels: Quattro all wheel drive

Performance:

0 to 100km/h: 5.8 seconds (claimed)
0 to 100km/h: 7.0 seconds (tested)
60 to 120 km/h: 5.9 seconds (tested)
80 to 120 km/h: 4.2 seconds (tested)
100 to 0 km/h: 3.2 seconds (tested)

Pricing:

Basic model: Dhs. 355,000, starting

Photography courtesy of Philip Cherian

3 Responses to 2011 Audi A8 L | road test

  1. web design barrow Reply

    November 2, 2015 at 9:15 am

    I like what you guys tend to be up too. Such clever work and reporting! Keep up the good works guys I’ve added you guys to blogroll.

  2. Rashard Baker Reply

    August 27, 2011 at 7:32 am

    I can’t wait for the diesel version of it to come out!

  3. Kapilgorkha Reply

    August 25, 2011 at 7:34 am

    its fantastic  car………….

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