Slide behind the wheel and you’ll find a huge range of adjustment for 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, and all these adjustments combine to produce one of the best driving positions offered in any car.
It’s also beautifully made inside. There are places where it feels better screwed together than a Mercedes-Benz S-Class. However, while the material quality is high, with lots of leather and smart wood veneers, it doesn’t achieve quite the same sense of occasion that the S-Class’s swankier interior does.
Visibility is generally good in this kind of car, but the A8 is the best of the bunch. Its broad windows and expansive rear screen provide a good view all round, and there are front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera on all models. LED headlights across the range also makes for outstanding night-time visibility (adaptive Matrix LED versions, which shield oncoming traffic from glare while maintaining the high beams, are available as an option).
With so much functionality on board, what’s the A8 like to use? Well, the standard 12.3in digital instrument cluster conveys a lot information with admirable clarity, as does the standard head-up display. The technologically advanced dashboard also features two central high-definition displays – a 10.1in top screen and curved 8.6in screen below – that dominate the driving environment.
We’ve experienced a similar layout in the Range Rover Velar and our biggest complaint with both is that, while the menus are easy enough to navigate when stationary, touchscreens are generally more distracting to use while driving. Unlike physical buttons, you can't simply learn the position of touchscreen controls by feel and, instead, have to take your eyes from the road to hit the icons.
Admittedly, sharp graphics, variable haptic feedback and a quad-core processor for faster response times make the A8's touchscreens as good as they get, and Audi has made the sensible decision of reserving the lower screen solely for the climate control. That means you don't have to dive through menus to change the temperature – you always know where to find the control.
Still, many of the icons are simply too small and, despite being great to look at, this system feels like a step back in terms of safety: Audi's rotary-dial MMI interface, still used on some of its other models, is far less distracting. Even though the S-Class’s Comand system isn’t as responsive, it’s easier to use when driving, and the BMW 7 Series’ iDrive system is by far the best of the lot.
Of course, with luxury coursing through the A8's veins, 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 that features an Android tablet attached to the back of each front seat.
The standard stereo incorporates a six-channel 180 watt amplifier 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 more advanced stand-alone Bang & Olufsen system with 23 speakers and 1920W, but it's very expensive.