Strong brand identity, weak model differentiation. That, in a nutshell, is Audi design. But we shouldn't overlook the firm's skill at neatly proportioning their cars.
Especially in the case of this new long-wheelbase A8. Despite the extra 130mm added into the wheelbase to the direct benefit of those in the back, the A8 L doesn't look stretched, and that's because Audi has raised the roofline by 11mm to compensate. It looks misleadingly modest from far away and is light and wieldy to drive (Audi might just be on to something with this aluminium construction...). The smooth and punchy 3.0-litre diesel is capable of impressive feats of economy too.
This makes it all the more shocking to open a rear door and find not a passenger compartment but a panoramic landscape in which the front seats seem small and far away. A standard glass roof further enhances the sense of space, but for the real budget-Maybach effect, you need to plunder the options list for 12-way powered seats and the like. Downsides? People will think there's a midget riding in the back of an A4.
We like: Echoes from the rear compartment
We don't like: People thinking it's an A4
The verdict: The A8 of choice - and very possibly the luxury exec of choice too
Performance: 0-62mph in 6.2secs, max 155mph, 42.8mpg
Tech: 2967cc, V6, 4WD, 247bhp, 406lb ft, 1890kg, 176g/km CO2
Tick this on the options list: Rear seat entertainment, £3,830
And avoid this: Rear vanity mirrors, £275