- Published: Tuesday, 28 October 2014 17:22
We've driven many different versions of Audi's flagship A8 luxo-barge over the years, and every time it comes round our office, there is a scramble during our lunch run as to who gets to sit in the coveted back seat. The A8's appeal is clear: it is a limo that's packed with tech, and flush with opulent luxury, and it's therefore no surprise to find it the office favourite.
The one we have here is no different, being a facelifted version of the current A8 that's been around for about four years now. This particular unit has the 3.0-litre supercharged V6 that produces 310bhp and 440Nm of torque, making it the entry-level variant, as compared to the 4.0-litre TFSI version tested by Derryn in CarBuyer issue 224, and the whopping 6.3-litre W12-engined A8 that Ju-Len drove in CarBuyer 222.
The key changes in this round of facelifts, at least aesthetically, are mainly restricted to the redesigned lights front and rear. They're not just ordinary lights too: the headlamps are now what Audi calls Matrix LED units, which incorporates LEDs into the entire lighting cluster unit. Derryn has explained the tech behind this in his review back in CB224, but essentially the Matrix LED lights offer greater variety of combinations in order to suit all kinds of driving conditions. The lights themselves offer excellent illumination without coming across as too blinding to other drivers, and clever tech ensures that on high beam, the lights dim themselves appropriately when it senses traffic approaching the other way.
Fancy lights aside, the A8 3.0 has been improved in other ways too. They range from small things, like the redesigned cargo area that frees up more boot space, to slightly more significant ones, like the engine, which has received a small increase in output. The 3.0-litre supercharged V6 unit now puts out 310bhp and 440Nm of torque, 20bhp and 20Nm more than before. As a result, the car now goes from 0-100km/h in 5.9 seconds, instead of 6.2 seconds previously.
And like with all things these days, the updated A8 3.0 is now slightly greener too, with the powerplant now compliant with EU6 emissions regulations, and puts out just 184g/km of CO2 from its exhaust. And Audi claims that the A8 3.0 can return an average fuel consumption figure of 7.9 litres per 100km, if you drive it gently.
That's a big if, of course, because with over 300 horses under its bonnet, you'll find it hard to drive this car gently. Certainly, you can waft along all day in it, shuttling around the island in absolute comfort, and the A8 will indulge you in that way. But when you get behind the wheel, sometimes it's hard to resist prodding the throttle just a little. And by doing so, you get rewarded with a satisfying surge of power that belies the car's sizable girth. The A8 is a car that takes a while to warm up to, but that 'while' usually doesn't take very long, once you unlock its breadth of capabilities.
Like any luxo-barge worth its salt, the A8's ride quality is excellent. Adaptive air suspension is standard for our market, which translates into an absolutely soothing ride for all, and you can even raise the car slightly to clear any nasty road bumps if required. Also, the A8 has always been one of the better handling large sedans around, thanks to its lightweight aluminium construction and Quattro all-wheel-drive system, and the 3.0 doesn't disappoint in that aspect, offering plenty of steady poise and grip in the corners.
But even if you never take the road less travelled in this car, you can be sure that the A8 has all you need and want out of a luxury limousine. It's nice to know that, whether you're in the back seat or the front seat, the A8 offers plenty to satisfy even the most demanding of folks. If it can win the approval of our notoriously fussy office colleagues, chances are it can win yours too.
NEED TO KNOW
Engine 2,995cc, 24V, V6
Power 310bhp at 5200-6500rpm
Torque 440Nm at 2900-4750rpm
Gearbox 8-speed automatic
Top Speed 250km/h
0-100kmh 5.9 seconds
Fuel efficiency 7.9L/100km
Price $422,200 with COE
Also Consider: BMW 730iL, Mercedes-Benz S350L, Jaguar XJ 3.0