Slide into the driver's seat and you’ll find a huge range of adjustment to the supportive, 22-way electrically operated seat and steering column – both of which are standard fit in all versions. Four-way lumbar support is also standard. It all makes for one of the best driving positions offered by any car.
It’s beautifully made inside, feeling better screwed together in some places than a Mercedes-Benz S-Class. However, although the material quality is high, with lots of leather and smart wood veneers, it doesn’t achieve quite the same sense of occasion as the S-Class’s swanky interior does.
Visibility is generally good in cars such as these, but the A8 is the best of the bunch. The broad windows and expansive rear screen provide a good view all round, while front and rear parking sensors, along with a rear-view camera, are standard on all models. Having LED headlights across the range also makes for outstanding night-time visibility (adaptive Matrix LED versions, which shield oncoming traffic from glare while maintaining high beam, are available as an option).
With lots of functionality on board, what’s the A8 like to use? Well, the standard 12.3in screen containing the digital instruments works well for conveying lots of information simply, as does the standard head-up display. The minimalist but technologically advanced dashboard also features two central high-definition displays – the top screen measuring 10.1in, while the bottom one is an 8.6in-curved unit – that dominate the driving environment.
We’ve experienced a similar layout in the Range Rover Velar and our biggest complaint there is that while the menus are easy enough to navigate when stationary, it is distracting to use while driving. It's much the same here.
Admittedly, with sharp graphics, a new quad-core processor for faster response times and variable haptic feedback, it's as good as touchscreens get, and Audi has made the sensible decision of reserving the lower screen solely for the climate control. Therefore the icons remain in the same location regardless of what is on the main screen, allowing you to learn your way around more quickly.
Yet it’s the numerous on-screen icons elsewhere, many of which are too small, that have you averting your gaze from the road ahead all too often. So, despite being great to look at, this system is more distracting than Audi's rotary switch-controlled MMI set-up on other models and feels like a step back in terms of safety. Even though the S-Class’s Comand system isn’t as responsive, it’s easier to use while driving, while the BMW 7 Series’ iDrive system is by far the best of the lot.
Of course, this being a limo, it’s not just the front passengers who have access to an infotainment system. Rear passengers in the long-wheelbase version of the A8 benefit from a standard 5.7in tablet stored in the centre armrest, which can be removed and used as a remote control for climate, seat and convenience functions.
All models, including the standard-wheelbase car, can be ordered with an optional rear-seat entertainment package featuring two Android tablets attached to the back of each front seat.
The standard stereo consists of a six-channel amplifier with 180W and 10 speakers, including a subwoofer. If that’s not good enough, a 17-speaker, 730W Bang & Olufsen upgrade is available as part of the Comfort and Sound package, which offers good clarity but not much warmth. There's also a stand-alone advanced Bang & Olufsen system with 23 speakers and 1920W, but it's very expensive.