2013 Audi A8L: Nvidia Graphics, Wi-Fi, LED Lights, And Google Earth

Audi's Well-Exectuted A8L Takes Home The Gold

Audi's MMI touch with handwriting recognition is by far the best infotainment platform we've tested. Yes, we liked Chrysler’s Uconnect Access, Ford SYNC with MyFord Touch, Hyundai's solution, and Kia's as well, but Audi's technology package is in a league of its own. The experience starts with sitting down in the A8L's driver's seat and realizing that you're surrounded by an expertly-designed interior that's comfortable, classy, and ergonomic.

The process goes a little something like this: you melt into the driver's seat and start the A8L using its push-button ignition. The chair remembers your memory setting and gets itself into position. Then, you rest your arm above the center console; all of the infotainment features are at your fingertips. Audi's well-positioned control knob provides quick access to the system's functions. It's surrounded by those four buttons associated with operations on the display's four corners. When you want to write-out your search, the touchpad reads writing from your finger, and that's located to the left of the control knob. If you want to adjust the volume, you move your arm to the right and the control is right there. You can do all these things without taking your arm off the rest.

As you put the car in gear and start your drive, the analog gauges fluidly react to the motor; there is no pure LED gauge cluster for the simple sake of looking edgy, and we appreciate that. The LCD between Audi's analog gauges ties in with the MMI touch system fantastically. Access to your phone book, music folders, and favorite radio stations is made easier with steering wheel controls that convey great tactile feedback and response.

You're driving in the city and there's traffic you don't want to deal with. So, you turn on cruise control. The adaptive system takes over throttle control and braking to speed up, slow down, and even stop the car in traffic. If you're only stopped a couple of seconds, it'll hold onto the reins. When you're stopped longer, tapping the resume button or pressing the gas pedal gets you back on your way. Say you need to change lanes. You hit your turn signal and the Audi side assist technology flashes its bright cluster of LEDs, letting you know there's a little Geo Metro in your blind spot.

Or maybe you're on a rural road as it gets dark. The headlights turn on automatically and illuminate the road with 20 bright white focused LEDs. But, just to be safe, you turn on the night vision assistant technology. A deer might run across the road as you're driving along, windows down, stereo up loud. You slam on the brakes, but Audi pre sense plus detects that you won't stop in time. So it rolls the windows up, closes the sunroof, flashes your hazard lights, and forces maximum brake pressure to mitigate the damage.

Alright, that's a little dark. Hopefully you're driving along your favorite windy road and want to have some good clean fun, so you switch over the vehicle settings for a sportier stance. Audi's MMI touch system lets you do this with the turn of a knob. The steering and throttle become more responsive, and the suspension stiffens a bit. You put the transmission in sport mode and assume control with the paddle shifters. The A8L, as massive as it is, provides plenty of entertainment. It offers immense power and you marvel at how well the car handles. The ZF eight-speed transmission shifts so smoothly and responds so quickly that you forget there is no third pedal.

It might seem like I'm gushing about Audi's A8L, but it truly is a technological marvel. Everything is integrated so well. The vehicle systems work together, and not just for the infotainment system. Audi connect with Google Earth overlays take already-good navigation and make it perfect. After driving this car and using its MMI, every other mapping solution seems underdeveloped. As a cherry on top, you even get Google Maps Street View to identify destinations easier. Here's hoping more automakers follow Audi's lead on this. The car and its accompanying technology are virtually perfect for our tastes. My only complaint on that front is the lack of USB connectivity for data access and charging.

If you're in the market for a luxury sedan with smartly-integrated technology and sporty driving dynamics, you simply can't go wrong with Audi's A8L. Yes, it's expensive. But we've been in more expensive cars that we didn't like as much. This truly is the best marriage of technology, comfort, and driving dynamics I've encountered. Audi understands the purpose of technology in a car, and its A8L is a manifestation of that.

In fact, I like the D4-based Audi A8L so much that I'm giving it the Tom's Hardware Elite award. This is the first time our highest honor has ever gone to a vehicle. The company did a great job with its MMI touch with handwriting recognition system. The interior ergonomics are fantastic, as we'd expect from an Audi. The Google Earth map overlays really take the cake for infotainment systems, too. If I had the money to drop more than $100,000 on a luxury sedan, this is the one I'd want. Of course, if the A8L's 4.0 L engine doesn't have enough muscle, there's always the 500 hp W12 engine available as an option...

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56 comments
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  • cypeq
    Tom's add regular Refirgerator reviews they also get touchscreens built in.
    3
  • vertexx
    Aren't 2014 models out by now?
    3
  • Zeh
    One can always dream...
    3
  • cozmium
    Another prime example of how B&O are only made for big wallets and not discerning audio enthusiasts. Bowers and Wilkins, such as in the Jaguar XF, sound utterly fantastic. In a car you have a minefield of acoustic problems to overcome, and it takes more than slapping in fancy looking speakers.
    1
  • Flicules
    I would like to see an article about the new Infotainment system on the Mazda 3(MY14)
    1
  • Nintendo Maniac 64
    *reads title*...so basically all the things Tesla already had in 2012?

    (wifi hardware was present but the software wasn't enabled since the first year of 3G was free)
    -3
  • vertexx
    The 2014 A8 L features a Bose sound system, or perhaps that's the standard option.
    1
  • Metalrenok
    Car reviews? Seriously Tom's?
    -3
  • Metalrenok
    Car reviews? Seriously Tom's?
    -7
  • bhaberle
    So umm. It is important to know that even lower end Audi's like the S4 (standard) and the A4 (optional) have these features, such as wi-fi, etc. And yes the wifi hotspot was available in last year's versions of these cars (which actually is the 2013 ones.) The a4/s4 versions are not touch though, which is not really an issue.
    2
  • user 18
    Kind of sad that such a nice car seems to only come with an auto transmission.
    1
  • holmes4
    Regarding USB and audio inputs - Audi typically puts a connector for these in the glove compartment. You may need to buy a custom adapter cable depending on your device. At least on my 2013 A4, it can control an iPhone through the MMI this way, though I just use the Bluetooth integration.
    1
  • tuanies
    Anonymous said:
    Another prime example of how B&O are only made for big wallets and not discerning audio enthusiasts. Bowers and Wilkins, such as in the Jaguar XF, sound utterly fantastic. In a car you have a minefield of acoustic problems to overcome, and it takes more than slapping in fancy looking speakers.


    I've never heard the B&W in the XF. The Meridian system in the XJL is quite good though. The Acura Krell system in the RLX is the best system I've heard so far.

    Anonymous said:
    I would like to see an article about the new Infotainment system on the Mazda 3(MY14)


    It's on the list of vehicles to cover. It's a very good vehicle and the new system is a massive improvement over the terrible TomTom system in the 6 and CX5.

    Anonymous said:
    *reads title*...so basically all the things Tesla already had in 2012?

    (wifi hardware was present but the software wasn't enabled since the first year of 3G was free)


    Audi had it in the A8 since 2011

    Anonymous said:
    The 2014 A8 L features a Bose sound system, or perhaps that's the standard option.


    Bose is standard on Audi's. B&O is a $6300 option.

    Anonymous said:
    Car reviews? Seriously Tom's?


    Yes
    1
  • tuanies
    Anonymous said:
    So umm. It is important to know that even lower end Audi's like the S4 (standard) and the A4 (optional) have these features, such as wi-fi, etc. And yes the wifi hotspot was available in last year's versions of these cars (which actually is the 2013 ones.) The a4/s4 versions are not touch though, which is not really an issue.


    Yes the A4 has MMI as well, but the touch pad is quite excellent. Also the interior ergonomics and overall package are different. The next gen A4 will have touch. Audi has a combo touch / control knob that debuted in the A3. I imagine it will make its way to the next A4.

    Anonymous said:
    Kind of sad that such a nice car seems to only come with an auto transmission.


    Unfortunately driving with a third pedal will be a forgotten art. However, the 8-speed ZF is a very good transmission. I love manuals and everything, but will gladly trade a third pedal for adaptive cruise control with stop and go and the 8-speed ZF for daily driving.

    Anonymous said:
    Regarding USB and audio inputs - Audi typically puts a connector for these in the glove compartment. You may need to buy a custom adapter cable depending on your device. At least on my 2013 A4, it can control an iPhone through the MMI this way, though I just use the Bluetooth integration.


    You are correct. Ours only had the iPod connector, a 30-pin one at that. It's highway robbery that Audi sells the cables for about $70 to use a feature that should be standard by now.
    2
  • xenol
    I'm probably going to get downvoted for this but...I find it annoying people were all "make Google Glass illegal to wear while driving" because of the potential to distract the driver. And yet I see the smarts of this car having the same potential.
    0
  • tuanies
    Anonymous said:
    I'm probably going to get downvoted for this but...I find it annoying people were all "make Google Glass illegal to wear while driving" because of the potential to distract the driver. And yet I see the smarts of this car having the same potential.


    People will always find ways to distract themselves if they aren't focused drivers. You can have all the electronic nannies and lock outs you want, but that doesn't stop a parent turning around to yell at their kids before plowing into the car in front of them IMO.
    1
  • CaedenV
    that is a lot of buttons... way too many buttons...Don't get me wrong, I love me some buttons to press, but if complicated games that have 100 different things going on can get by with using just a few of the 16 buttons and 2 sticks available on your average controller, then surely a car's navigation and infotainment system can make due with far less for a much simpler experience.Wake me up when cars get a proper HUD to control the car with rather than overly complicated center consoles that are needlessly complicated and difficult to operate while driving.
    0
  • Anonymous
    I've never had 100 grand to drop on a vehicle, but I'd be satisfied with a car that doesn't require thousands of dollars in repairs after a few hundred thousand kilometers
    1
  • 3ogdy
    Quote:
    Car reviews? Seriously Tom's?
    Upper part of the page, right under the Tom's Hardware logo:"The authority on TECH". So, what were you saying your problem was?
    1
  • cypeq
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Car reviews? Seriously Tom's?
    Upper part of the page, right under the Tom's Hardware logo:"The authority on TECH". So, what were you saying your problem was?
    Nothing it's obvious sponsored advertisement article move a long nothing new.
    -1