Audi might not brand the new A8 L luxury sedan as the “best car in the world,” but it definitely has the best cabin amongst it peers—Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7 Series and Jaguar XJ. In fact, the Audi cabin feels more opulent than a luxury five-star hotel suite, but for Rs 1.56 crore (ex-showroom) you’d pay for the A8 L, you can rent a five-star suite for years. I know it’s a poor analogy—cars are a matter of lifestyle, luxury, social status, mobility—but you get the idea. The A8 L is expensive, and part of the reason is that it’s a fully-imported vehicle and attracts a plethora of taxes. But as a super-luxury car, it leaves nothing to be desired.
One, it’s really big—5.3 meters long, 1.95 meters wide and 1.49 meters tall. Its Singleframe grille is probably the largest ever for an Audi, and its HD Matrix LED headlights, including laser lights, and rear lamps with OLED technology make it look rich, very rich. Two, the cabin is spacious and all controls are clearly defined. Mention must be made of the AC vents and Bang & Olufsen speakers that sink inside the dashboard once you switch off the engine and unlock the car, and delicately rise as you switch on. At night, the ambient lighting turns the cabin into a lavish lounge.
Three, the rear seat of the A8 L is probably the best place to be in on our roads. It can be reclined, and also has massage functions, electrically height-adjustable head restraints, footrests, leather-covered centre console (this means only two passengers can sit at rear, not three), and a rear-seat entertainment system, comprising of two Audi tablets (HD monitors) and a remote control.
Four, in case you love to drive, its V6 3.0-litre petrol engine (with mild-hybrid technology) turns this heavy tank-like vehicle into a sports car—it can accelerate from 0-100kph in just 5.7 seconds. The engine generates peak power of 340bhp and 500Nm of torque. Its 48V mild-hybrid technology helps the car ‘coast’ at speeds between 55kph and 160kph with the engine switched off for up to 40 seconds—Audi India claims this feature helps reduce fuel consumption by as much as 0.7 litres per 100 km. Yet because it’s a big engine, expect overall real-world fuel-efficiency at less than 10kpl despite all fuel-saving technologies. The eight-stage Tiptronic transmission is lovely to operate, and the A8 L is the only sedan in its segment with an SUV-like functionality, i.e. it has a permanent all-wheel driving system (quattro).
All new Audi cars, including this one, have big touchscreen displays, which provide a unique feedback—both haptic and audio. You have to get used to the amount of pressure needed to use the touchscreen. The experience is a bit like Apple’s Force Touch technology; Audi has done the same for cars. But like in the new Q8 and the new A6, the touchscreen for climate control in the A8 L is also placed lower—between the dashboard and centre console—and you cannot operate it without taking your eyes off the road.
Five, like SUVs, this sedan is also heavily customisable—Audi India is currently offering a mind-boggling 54 exterior colour options. The new A8 L is a rich-looking car, perhaps for super-rich buyers, and has an ultra-luxurious rear seat. However, it’s also, by far, the most expensive—the S-Class (Rs 1.36 crore onwards), the 7 Series (Rs 1.22 crore onwards) and the XJ (Rs 1.11 crore onwards). Membership of an exclusive club doesn’t come cheap. (Prices are ex-showroom.)
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