Getting To Know Audi's Top-End A8L
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.