Understated, unpretentious, unbeatable, the U in Audi could stand for all these things. Audi’s trademark is quality craftsmanship, technological innovation, and unbelievably luxurious interiors. It tries to do all this without showing off, but rather exuding a quiet sophistication.
Three trims are offered in the 2006 Audi A8. The base A8 and longer A8L feature a 4.2-liter, 330-hp V8 engine and 6-speed Tiptronic. The W12, based on the L frame, is a 6.0-liter, 450-hp rocket that merges two V6 engines together. In 2006, the gaping maw of a grille that already adorns the W12 becomes standard in all Audi A8s. Other additions include rain sensors in the wipers, restyled 18-inch wheels, and a new Exclusive Package which extends Valcona leather to the steering wheel, shifter, and door panels. Standard ABS brakes, anti-skid, electronic stability program, and 10 airbags maintain the A8’s reputation as a sturdy tank, though its lightweight aluminum frame make you feel as though you’re in a much lighter car. It also helps improve fuel economy.
The A8 L has a not-so-secret weapon under the hood: A 6.0 liter 12-cylinder engine arranged in a “W” formation. That’s like two V6s working together to power one car. The W12 produces 450 hp and 428 lb-ft of torque, and drives all four wheels with Audi’s refined quattro system. Put that power through a six-speed automatic transmission, direct it with speed sensitive power steering, slow it down with four-wheel anti-lock brakes and keep it on the road with electronic stabilization and adaptive air suspension and you’ve got a 4729 lb car that simply glides. The A8 is so smooth and quiet that there are times it feels like you’re driving around in a luxury jet instead of a car.
The ride is where the price tag on the A8 starts to make sense. I only wish I could test the A8 on the Autobahn, where its horsepower and long wheelbase would really come into play.
The A8 has a computer interface to access its functions from a central cluster with intuitive button and wheel controls and a sensible nested menu system, controlling everything from audio to climate to navigation to communications. It’s easy to get distracted by all that functionality; I had to make a conscious effort to keep my eyes on the road and not play with the controls.
Of course you get standard luxury amenities like ESP (Electronic Stabilization Program),adaptive Bi-Xenon headlights that steer the headlights through turns, speed sensitive steering, power rear sunshade and more. This goes along with interior standards like Multi-Media Interface with a retractable color screen, Valoona leather seats, rear passenger DVD entertainment with a six-disc DVD changer, and front seat ventilation and massage system. Then Audi gives you Bluetooth wireless capability and a 12-speaker Bose Surround Sound system that is a blessing to your sense of hearing.
Rest assured, the A8L will also keep you safe, with a host of restraint systems including front and side airbags, side curtain bags and even front knee airbags. Also in the mix are adaptive cruise control, 20¨ wheels with performance tires, Sirius Satellite Radio, and a multi-function heated steering wheel. All of which is available for a mere $126,010 including destination and guzzler tax.
For all you ultra-luxury vehicle buyers stuck on the S-Class and 7-Series, I recommend you get into an Audi A8L and do a head to head comparison. You will realize similar innovative German technology present in all three brands, of course with each having pros & cons. However, what you get in the A8L that you won’t get in the others is individuality and incredible quattro all-weather stability.
Price this car:
MSRP: $68,130 – $118,190
Invoice: $63,706 – $107,898
Source: Audi Press Release