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The Top Gear car review: Audi A8
For:Superb tech, interior, relaxing to drive
Against:Best tech isn't available yet, so it's an 8 until then
What is it?
A big, important barge of a thing relatively few will buy, and a technical achievement few have the resources or engineering might to match or surpass. It’s the new Audi A8 – the cleverest Audi of all. And so it should be, because if you really want to see what a manufacturer is truly capable of engineering, you look at its flagship. And the A8 is and always had been Audi’s, which is why the new one gets a load of tech’ we haven’t seen before, but almost certainly will on future A6s and A4s.
Tech’ like ‘Traffic Jam Pilot’, which delivers “conditional level three autonomy” by taking complete control of the steering, brakes and accelerator on motorways and dual-carriageways. Or the new infotainment system, which pairs Audi’s ‘Virtual Cockpit’ instrument cluster with two touchscreens for a largely button-free centre-console. Much of said tech’ can only exist for the 48-volt, water-cooled electrical system that technically makes the A8 an ‘MHEV’, or ‘mild-hybrid electric vehicle’. This all takes some explaining, so more later.
More too on the interior, which because the new A8 is bigger than the car it replaces – longer by 32mm and taller by 13 in either short- or long-wheelbase (which adds another 13cm of rear legroom) – is suitably spacious. The car’s heavier too; for all the aluminium, CFRP and magnesium Audi promises it’s used in the more rigid ‘Space Frame’ chassis, it’s almost 100kg up on the old car and lardier than either of its main competitors, the (relatively) featherweight carbon-cored BMW 7 Series and Mercedes S-Class.
So in the short-term anyway, it’s not massively quick. For starters Brits get a 3.0-litre V6 in either petrol or diesel. An ‘e-tron’ plug-in hybrid (with wireless charging) will follow along with a W12 and 4.0-litre diesel V8. And the one you want is…
The fastestS8 Quattro 4dr Tiptronic
The cheapest50 TDI Quattro Sport 4dr Tiptronic
The greenestL 60 TFSI e Quattro Sport 4dr Tiptronic