The trouble is, none of them actually own an A8. They just take advantage of the chauffeur cars Audi provides as upmarket taxis. The A8 has a high profile, then, but somehow that’s never translated into big sales. The Jaguar XJ is the dominant limousine in Britain. Globally, it’s the Mercedes S-Class.
A car for drivers, too
Audi reckons the new A8 can change that, and is especially confident of making inroads into the chauffeur market, but there’s a certain irony there. While it’s undoubtedly a fine thing to ride in, and will be even better once the long-wheelbase version arrives in December, what most strikes you about the new A8 is that it’s a car for drivers.
Its four-mode adaptive air suspension lets you set it up any way you want: supple and gentle to give Kate or Kylie a smooth journey, or taut and perfectly controlled if you find yourself in a rush to pick them up. Audi’s aluminium-bodied cars ride and handle so much better than its steel-bodied ones.
The electronic brain behind the suspension also adjusts the throttle mapping, auto-gearshift patterns and steering to keep the whole car in harmony. Even the seatbelt tensioners behave differently, depending on whether you’re charging or taking it easy, and the sat-nav reads the road for the gearbox and tells it not to upshift on the entry to a corner, for instance. Clever.
The A8 goes on sale in July with two corking 4.2-litre V8s – a 368bhp FSI petrol and a 347bhp TDI diesel. The TSI is the smoother of the two and sings the sweeter song, but it doesn’t have the twanged-from-a-catapult pick-up of the TDI – hardly surprising when you compare their torque figures.
The most important A8 will be the 3.0-litre V6 TDI that comes along in September, though. There’ll also be a turbocharged 3.0 V6 TFSI. The V6 TDI’s class-leading CO2 emissions of 174g/km are what give Audi such big sales expectations. Eventually there’ll be a front-wheel-drive version bringing CO2 down to 159g/km.
Time off with the tech
To get to grips with all the technology in the car you’d need to take a couple of days off work, but let’s just say the A8 is now far more than just ‘the other German limousine’ after the S-Class and BMW 7 Series. Kylie, Kate and Johnny will definitely approve.
What Car? says
Turns the limo market into a four-horse race