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

Music Features And A $6300 Audio Upgrade Package

Audi takes an interesting approach to I/O in the A8L. There is no USB or auxiliary input. And normally, this is where we'd start complaining about a lack of connectivity. But Audi gives us a suitable alternative in the form of SD card slots. The company exposes a pair of them, accessible behind a flip-down flap that also hides a SIM card slot and DVD player. I'm a big fan of SD storage because the cards are small and a lot easier to conceal than a USB drive or iPod. And because MP3s don't require much bandwidth, any SD card you have laying around will work for storing music in the A8L. 

2013 Audi A8L Music Features

With that said, we still expect USB connectivity, particularly in a car this expensive. SD slots are nice, but USB is also useful for charging the battery of a depleted smartphone. In 2014, it's really a must-have feature.

Navigating the contents of an SD card using Audi's interface is easy using familiar folder and artist views. The control knob is both ergonomic and fast, getting you to the song you want to hear quickly. It's similarly well-suited to jumping between radio stations. You may need to acclimate to the lack of dedicated presets. Instead, Audi exposes a list of favorite stations that can be scrolled through. Fortunately, the A8L's steering wheel controls are excellent for cruising through your top picks.

Bang & Olufsen's $6300 Upgrade Package

Audi offers a Bang & Olufsen sound system for the hefty price of $6300. You get an upgraded 19-speaker sound system with 1400 watts of combined power. As with most liberally-specified sound systems, those 19 speakers count every driver individually.

The high-end package does include a pair of motorized tweeters that pop out of the dash every time you start the A8L. They have B&O's signature design and look very nice.

You wouldn't catch me spending $500 on headphones and another $500 for a matching amp, or thousands of dollars on the pieces of a home theater. At the same time, I've heard plenty of high-end automotive sound systems, including custom setups built by my friends at German Audio Specialties. I was really excited about listening to Audi's B&O-sourced configuration, and I imagined it'd sound amazing given such an extreme price tag.

But I was wrong. The upgrade package did not live up to my expectations. Its tweeters sounded great, punctuated by excellent detail and clarity. But the mid and low range lacked substance, almost sounding muddy. Just to be sure I hadn't created unrealistic expectations, I had the same group of friends at German Audio Specialties audition the A8L, and they came to the same conclusion. 

Talk about a major disappointment, given such high hopes. But Audi's B&O option just falls short. If you're on the fence about spending $6300 for better sound in this car, skip it and consider something aftermarket if you really need an upgrade.

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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