First Drive

2014 Audi A8 review

  • Updated version of Audi’s limo driven in UK
  • Lower emissions, with 3.0-litre diesel producing just 155g/km
  • On sale in January, priced from Β£58,800
Words ByTom Webster

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The Audi A8 has been refreshed for 2014, with the luxury limo getting a selection of visual updates, plus changes to the engines that have improved both power and efficiency.

CO2 emissions for the big-selling 3.0-litre diesel quattro model, for example, have been cut from 169g/km to 155g/km. This makes it cleaner than the old front-wheel drive 3.0-litre diesel, which Audi has decided to drop from the line-up.

At a glance, you’d be hard pushed to tell the revised A8 apart from its predecessor because the face-lift is a subtle one. The most notable change is to the headlights, where Audi has introduced a new adaptable LED design.

Each light uses 25 individual LEDs and scans the road ahead so it can automatically shut off sections of the high beam to avoid dazzling other drivers or pedestrians. It also uses information from the navigation system to bend its light around corners.

Tweaks to the bumper, bonnet and air intakes complete the revised front-end, while at the rear of the car there are new taillights and exhaust pipes.

What is the 2014 Audi A8 like to drive?

Even before this update, there was no such thing as a slow A8, but that hasn't stopped Audi from boosting power across the range.

The 3.0-litre diesel now has 254bhp (up from 247bhp), which is enough to make acceleration feel effortless at all times, while the flagship S8 is supercar-fast, hitting 62mph in just 4.1 seconds.

The A8 is also very refined, no matter which model you choose, with little noise from the engine bay finding its way into the cabin. A bit of wind noise is noticeable around the door mirrors at motorway speeds, but that’s about all that intrudes.

Adaptive suspension is standard, and this generally gives the A8 a settled ride. True, larger potholes do thud through the car more than they would in a Mercedes S-Class, but the Audi's suspension deals with smaller imperfections very well.

Body control also impresses. The A8 is now less liable to rear its bonnet under hard acceleration, and the car's body stays nice and flat in corners unless the suspension is in Comfort mode. Only the steering lets the handling down, feeling rather remote and artifical.

What is the 2014 Audi A8 like inside?

As before, the A8’s interior feels seriously luxurious, although the standard of finish does seem to have been taken up a notch.

The face-lift brings a wider choice of leathers, woods and colours, while the controls are all well weighted and incredibly solid.

Like other Audis, the A8 features the company's MMI infotainment system, which is easy to get to grips with. However, it's a shame the rotary dial that and buttons that control it are positioned in front of the gear selector, rather than between the front seats as they are in other Audi models.

Rear head- and legroom are good rather than outstanding in the regular model, so we'd recommend upgrading to the long-wheelbase A8 if you regularly need to carry people in the back. Or, indeed, if you're buying an A8 to be driven around in.

Should I buy one?

Despite the improved performance and clever new lights, the most compelling change to the Audi A8 is the 14g/km drop in CO2 emissions on the 3.0-litre diesel model. It not only drops the car by two company car tax bands, it also dips it under the crucial 160g/km Capital Allowances barrier.

The other changes enhance an already luxurious saloon and, together with the efficiency improvements, negate the slight rise in price.

The biggest problem facing the A8 is the sky-high standards set by the latest generation of Mercedes S-Class – standards it simply can't match. The Mercedes is more efficient, will cost less to run as a company car and offers unparalleled levels of luxury.

What Car? says...


BMW 7 Series

Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Audi A8 3.0 TDI
Engine size 3.0-litre diesel
Price from Β£58,800
Power 254bhp
Torque 428lb ft
0-62mph 5.9 seconds
Top speed 155mph
Fuel economy 47.9mpg
CO2 155g/km

Audi A8 4.2 TDI
Engine size 4.2-litre diesel
Price from Β£72,005
Power 380bhp
Torque 627lb ft
0-62mph 4.7 seconds
Top speed 155mph
Fuel economy 38.2mpg
CO2 194g/km

Audi A8 3.0 TFSI
Engine size 3.0-litre turbo petrol
Price from Β£63,505
Power 306bhp
Torque 324lb ft
0-62mph 5.7 seconds
Top speed 155mph
Fuel economy 36.2mpg
CO2 183g/km

Audi S8
Engine size 4.0-litre turbo petrol
Price from Β£79,900
Power 513bhp
Torque 479lb ft
0-62mph 4.1 seconds
Top speed 155mph
Fuel economy 29.4mpg
CO2 225g/km