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

2013 Audi A8L: Nvidia Graphics, Wi-Fi, LED Lights, And Google Earth
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One week with Audi's flagship A8L just isn't enough. This car is loaded with smart technology, driver aids, awesome lights, and a beefy motor. We go through as many of its subsystems as possible in an effort to find something wrong...but really can't.

It'd be hard to talk about luxury vehicles without bringing up Audi. It's an accomplished brand that made a major comeback after struggling in the 80s and 90s after false accusations of unintended acceleration. Although the company was cleared of any wrongdoing (drivers were confusing the pedals), Audi sales dwindled. It tried renaming its models, but that didn't help.

Today, the German company is known largely for high-end all-wheel drive vehicles with some of the best-designed interiors. It goes toe-to-toe with BMW and Mercedes-Benz. But whereas the competition does great work with sporty real-wheel drive designs, Audi's emphasis on Quattro gives it a leg up in rally racing. Audi still actively participates in motorsports. But our focus today is on the firm's flagship 2013 A8L, an extended wheelbase sedan with more technology inside than we know what to do with. 

With an MSRP of $115,000, the A8L isn't for everyone. But it is a rolling technological marvel and an exercise in decadence, with options like massaging driver and rear passenger seats, a night vision camera, and a built-in refrigerator with rear cup holders that perfectly envelop champagne flutes.

Not that we're surprised to see so many niceties on the A8L. Flagships are typically where manufacturers roll out their very latest capabilities. Oftentimes this turns out great, and we get advanced capabilities that end up propagating down into more mainstream models.

I still remember watching Jeremy Clarkson review the W220 Mercedes S-Class in the first season of Top Gear, fascinated by the car's technology. Adaptive cruise control was brand new and only available in the S-Class line-up at the time. Clarkson mentioned that examining a flagship luxury vehicle is like peeking into the future of more mainstream cars. Ten years later, lo and behold, Ford, Honda, Subaru, and more all offer adaptive cruise control on their mid-size sedans, while compacts feature optional integrated navigation systems.

Back to Audi's A8L, with so much technology that it's overwhelming. No doubt, some of the car's features will show up in the automaker's more affordable offerings, while others remain lavishly exclusive. We'll do our best in today's story to cover each feature and predict what might appear in cars outside of the A8 family.

Outside, the A8L isn’t much to look at (Ed.: Speak for  yourself; I love the way Audi's big boat looks). It's attractive, but certainly doesn't stand out like an R8 or its platform-sharing Bentley brethren. The designers tend to tone down the statement made by Audi's flagship, and the current D4 platform is no different. This is a car you buy for its luxury when you don't need a ton of attention. If you still need the validation of others, there's always the aforementioned R8. 

Our test mule is an A8L 4.0T Quattro tiptronic with the Executive Rear Seat Comfort Package, Bang & Olufsen Advanced Audio System, Driver Assistance package, Night vision assistant, Comfort package, Panorama sunroof, and Camera Assistance package, all of which take the car's price tag to $115,195.

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  • 3 Hide
    cypeq , January 24, 2014 12:34 AM
    Tom's add regular Refirgerator reviews they also get touchscreens built in.
  • 3 Hide
    vertexx , January 24, 2014 1:12 AM
    Aren't 2014 models out by now?
  • 3 Hide
    Zeh , January 24, 2014 2:08 AM
    One can always dream...
  • 1 Hide
    cozmium , January 24, 2014 3:02 AM
    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 Hide
    Flicules , January 24, 2014 3:39 AM
    I would like to see an article about the new Infotainment system on the Mazda 3(MY14)
  • -3 Hide
    Nintendo Maniac 64 , January 24, 2014 3:39 AM
    *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)
  • 1 Hide
    vertexx , January 24, 2014 6:08 AM
    The 2014 A8 L features a Bose sound system, or perhaps that's the standard option.
  • -3 Hide
    Metalrenok , January 24, 2014 6:26 AM
    Car reviews? Seriously Tom's?
  • -7 Hide
    Metalrenok , January 24, 2014 6:44 AM
    Car reviews? Seriously Tom's?
  • 2 Hide
    bhaberle , January 24, 2014 7:07 AM
    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.
  • 1 Hide
    user 18 , January 24, 2014 7:43 AM
    Kind of sad that such a nice car seems to only come with an auto transmission.
  • 1 Hide
    holmes4 , January 24, 2014 8:01 AM
    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 Hide
    tuanies , January 24, 2014 8:20 AM
    Quote:
    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.

    Quote:
    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.

    Quote:
    *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

    Quote:
    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.

    Quote:
    Car reviews? Seriously Tom's?


    Yes
  • 2 Hide
    tuanies , January 24, 2014 8:23 AM
    Quote:
    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.

    Quote:
    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.

    Quote:
    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.
  • 0 Hide
    xenol , January 24, 2014 9:40 AM
    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.
  • 1 Hide
    tuanies , January 24, 2014 9:48 AM
    Quote:
    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.
  • 0 Hide
    CaedenV , January 24, 2014 10:04 AM
    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.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , January 24, 2014 10:27 AM
    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 Hide
    3ogdy , January 24, 2014 2:37 PM
    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 Hide
    cypeq , January 24, 2014 3:18 PM
    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.
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