German automaker Audi is the first name that comes to mind when it comes to combining opulence and refinement with sheer power. The Audi A8 – a premium sedan at the very top of the range – is undoubtedly an embodiment of the company's vorsprung philosophy and a product of its innovative, cutting-edge design. Now Audi has just introduced a long-wheelbase version, the new Audi A8 L. Aimed at the very top of the market, it displays a build quality and precision engineering normally reserved for custom-built cars, and stands proudly as the marque's flagship. Simply put, it represents the ultimate in luxury, high-performance motoring.
The new Audi A8 L is considerably longer than the previous model. With an extra 130mm of length afforded by the extended wheelbase, the car is 5.26m long with a width of 1.95m and height of 1.47m. The result is a roomy interior where backseat passengers can enjoy a level of comfort and refinements unprecedented in a car of this class.
While Audi is perhaps best known for its precision engineering, this does not come at the cost of looks. The new Audi A8 L is, quite simply, stunning, with a look that is at once dynamic and expressive. New refinements include those to the hood, the single-frame grille and the sculptured front bumper. LED headlights come as standard, while the top of the line Audi A8 L W12 quattro comes standard with Matrix LED headlights. This innovative system enables the individual 25 LEDs that comprise each light to react intelligently to driving conditions, and in conjunction with the on-board navigation system, allows the lights to adjust while cornering for instance, as well as dipping from full-beam when an oncoming car approaches.
Inside, all is equally as beautiful. Coming as standard is in brown-silver poplar wood, brushed aluminium silver inlay, Valcona leather upholstery and electrically adjustable front seats with four-way lumbar support and memory function. Other refined details, such as rear-centre armrest, electric sunscreen, leather gearshift knob and a leather-covered, three-spoke steering wheel with shift paddles, are all to a standard one would normally associate with a bespoke service. ISOFIX child-seat mountings are there so that one's most precious assets are also well cared for.
The new Audi A8 L ensures that Hong Kong's notoriously humid summer weather is a breeze with a four-zone air automatic condition system and air ionising system for ensuring clean air within the cabin, while the rear-view mirror has an automatic anti-glare function, vital in bright sunlight or when the car behind has its headlights on full-beam. Cruise control also comes as standard, a handy feature for long-distance highway driving on trips further afield.
Audi has ensured that all within will be entertained by features such as the MMI radio with DVD changer, SD-card reader and hard-disk jukebox as well as Bluetooth, hands-free audio streaming over the Audi sound system. The Colour Driver Information System (DIS) ensures that the person behind the wheel is in complete control.
The appearance of the new Audi A8 L is deceptive, perhaps suggesting a rather conservative and stately performance. Far from it. Three variations of the Audi A8 L offer three choices of highly powerful engines. Under the bonnet of the new Audi A8 L 50 TFSI quattro, for instance, sits a newly designed supercharged three-litre engine producing 310hp; coupled with an eight-speed tiptronic gearbox, it launches the car from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.9 seconds and on to a top speed limited to 250km/h. The four-litre Audi A8 L 60 TFSI quattro, with 435hp, accelerates from 0 to 100km/h in just 4.6 seconds, while the awesome 6.3-litre Audi A8 L W12 quattro has 500hp under the bonnet. The latter two are equipped with Audi's Cylinder on Demand (COD) system, whereby half of the engine's cylinders can be automatically deactivated if not needed, significantly decreasing fuel consumption.
This high performance comes not only from the technical wizardry of Audi's industry-leading engines, but also from the materials and methods employed in construction. The body of the new Audi A8 L, made almost entirely of aluminium, is ultra-lightweight, and ensures that the vehicle remains the lightest yet strongest premium sedan on the planet. Its construction is not only crucial to the car's high performance, but also is also instrumental in maintaining safety. Meanwhile the anti-lock braking system (ABS), electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), electronic differential lock (EDL), ASR (traction control) and ESC (stability control) all enhance the safety of this remarkable car. A head-up display, projecting important data in the driver's field of vision on the windscreen, is featured on the A8 L W12 quattro.
Aerodynamics, of course, is pivotal to both performance and fuel-efficiency. The Audi A8 L has a drag coefficient of just 0.26, while its adaptive air suspension provides four driving modes; these enable driving in supreme comfort in any conditions, without compromising performance, while effectively reducing resistance. The available Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) system employs precise anti-phase noise to compensate for intrusive noise in the cabin when operating on four cylinders while in the Cylinder on Demand mode; active engine mounts dampen vibration, making the new Audi A8 L one of the world's quietest premium sedans.
While the performance of the new A8 L is nothing short of spectacular, those in want of even more excitement may look to the new Audi S8 4.0 TFSI quattro. With a regular wheelbase length and equipped with a bi-turbocharged 4-litre, 520hp V8 engine, it reaches 100km/h from a standing start in a breathtaking 4.1 seconds, a figure normally achieved only by supercars. The cars comes with Audi's Cylinder on Demand system, resulting in a vehicle that is not only fast but relatively economical for one in this performance class, at 9.6 l/100km.The new Audi S8 4.0 TFSI sports 21-inch cast-aluminium, five-spoke wheels with 265/35 R21 tyres. These, and other details such as the signature four oval tailpipes, speak to its illustrious sporting pedigree, of which Audi – and the car's owner – can be justifiably proud.