02-04-2020

Audi A8L Driven

REVIEWS

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In life there comes a time when you say, it’s now time to relax and let others do the work, while you are at the back of it, still as the leader. You have worked for 20+ plus years to build the name, earn fame, respect and money. Money, which allows you to splurge on things you Love. Money, which allows you to splurge on things that you always wanted to own, when you were younger. Money, which allows you to splurge without blinking an eye.

And when life gives you such a time, where you want to sit back, relax and enjoy the world as it passes by, in the lap of luxury and technology, what better than a car, that I am reviewing now. The Audi A8L.

You see, the Audi A8 is the direct competitor to the flagships of rival germans that the Audi competes with. The S Class, and the 7 Series, so its obvious, that the A8 for Audi also plays the role of being its flagship product. Everything ever that Audi has to offer or showcase, always comes first to the A8 and then get trickled down to other products. To give some brief about Audi A8…

The Audi A8 is a four-door, full-size, luxury sedan manufactured and marketed by the German automaker Audi since 1994. Succeeding the Audi V8, and now in its fourth generation, the A8 has been offered with both front- or permanent all-wheel drive—and in short- and long-wheelbase variants. The first two generations employed the Volkswagen Group D platform, with the current generation deriving from the MLB platform.

The fourth generation A8, and A8L, internally coded as D5 Typ 4N, was based on the Audi Prologue Concept. The fourth generation A8 was unveiled at the Audi Summit in Barcelona in the second quarter of 2017 followed up by the Frankfurt Motor Show, later that year. Eventually it went on sale in November 2017.

Now, Audi India, took lot of time to get the fourth generation A8 to India, and rightfully and thankfully when they got the car finally in India last month, one thing good that they did was, they got the A8 in the L Version, what it means is that the A8L is the Limousine Version of the standard A8 and it gets additional wheelbase, which translates into humunogus legroom at the rear.

Does this Audi A8L fit your bill then and how does it really stack up against the segment benchmark The S Class, or a more modern 7 Series, let’s find out together.

Design Language - Exteriors

The A8L is designed to appeal the CEO in you, and it therefore means business from every angle that you look at it from.

At the front you get a massive hexagonal grille, which screams chrome. The four bangles logo sit proudly with quattro batching on one side. The LED DRL’s have become bigger yet sharper and now flank latest generation Matrix LED Headlights. The chrome accentuated bumper rounds off the front look, which distinctly tells you, its an Audi.

Moving to the sides, the length of the car becomes quite evident. Remember it is a limousine version of the A8 and it is 5300 mm in length. The rear overhang extends further out making it look that much more longer. The sides have a sloping rear, making the car look like a coupe and the chrome surrounds on the window sills and the door sills, give the A8 and executive presence. What further add to the drama are the 19 inch alloys.

19 inch wheels come as a standard offering, and there is an option of speccing the car with 20 inch wheels too. The car comes with sporty looking 5 spoke alloy wheels, which in my opinion, don’t suit the aura of the car. They instantly feel out of place.

Move to the rear and the chrome drama continues. there’s a line of chrome which runs through the tail lamp cluster and at the base of the bumper, which surprisingly does not feel over done. One thing that others can definitely learn from Audi is the design architecture of their lamps illumination. They add certain character and drama to it. Usually our videos in youtube have the last shot of car going away, but this time, when we were making the A8L video, I was insistent that the last shot has to be the tail-lamps illuminating. And boy o boy, how well that has turned out to be. You need to go on our channel and check that out, personally.

Now, coming back to the car. Apart from the tail light drama and over dose of the chrome, the rear otherwise is pretty simple. There’s a batching to the effect on both the sides of the boot lid and that’s pretty much it. Speaking on the boot, the A8L offers 505 liters of boot space, enough space to carry your one weeks luggage, should you plan an outing.

Overall the Audi A8L, is a handsome looking luxury saloon, which will let you arrive at your destination in style.

Design Language- Interiors

Well, let me begin with reminding you, once again, that we are inside an Audi. And if there is something that no body does better than the Audi, it has to be the interior build quality and fit and finish. It is exceptional. If you are a millionaire, and one who is techie, look no further. There is nothing better than what the A8L has to offer in the front. Its all tech laden, and feels as if, the interiors are of a spaceship from a sci-fi movie. For instance, the way motorized AC blowers just open by rolling over, it feels classy, or the way the Tweeter from Bang & Olufsen Sound system gently pops out. It all feels soothing and gives wow feeling.

Speaking on the dash layout, well it is laden with HD screens. I won’t shy away to say, Ultra HD Screens. Possibly after Volvo cars, if there is any screen that I have personally fallen in love have to be the screens offered by Audi in their cars. The last time we were reviewing the Audi A6, I didn’t want to get out of the car. Similar feeling I had this time too. The central screens control the MMI or the Multimedia Interface. The top screen controls the infotainment settings and the lower screen controls the convenience features settings. The haptic feedback is strong which allows the user to know that the system has taken the inputs. The surface all around the screens is gloss black, which along with the screens is dust and finger print magnet.

The driver digital display has Audi’s latest generation Virtual Display, which in my honest opinion is the best in the business. When I had first seen the first generation of it in the A4, I had fallen in love with it then. This latest generation gets more features and is sharper to look at. Apart from other features, the feature that I liked the most was the system’s capability to integrate Google Maps right behind the driver console, should you choose to use Google Maps as you preferred map while driving the car. How convenient is that. The driver seat and the co-driver seat is cooled and heated and comes with memory settings. It’s an Audi, and that too a flagship one and the list of features is going to be long. The list of standard features include a panoramic sunroof, wireless Android Auto/ Apple CarPlay, a 360 degree camera, Auto Headlamps, a four-zone climate control AC, Adaptive Air Suspensions, Heated/cooled Seats, and 8 airbags. Optional features include, addition of 2 more airbags, 1920 Watts Bang & Olufsen Audio Setup, Rear Wheel Steering, OLED tail lamps, as opposed to LED tail lamps.

Let's look at the back seat now, considering most of the owners, rather I can say, 100% of the owners are going to spend lot of time at this back seat.

Considering Audi knows this, Audi has gone ahead and loaded the car to the brim at the rear. For starters, you get the split seats setup, and the seats work as your personal individual couches. The central console at the rear looks tech laden and modern. There is ample amount of space to keep your tit-bits here and there, and the highlight of the rear seat has to be the tablet that pops out allowing you to control the entire car through it. As expected at this price point you get a wireless charger at the rear and drinks refrigerator in between the seats is optional. The rear entertainment screens are now touch screens, which are a segment first, and what more is that both the screens actually are android tablets. They are detachable and can be used as a handheld devices too. What’s additionally special are the rear seats themselves, they offer supreme comfort when the car is on the move owing to nice lumbar support, under thigh support and enormous leg room.

As a techie myself, what I particularly loved is the Matrix LED Reading lights at the rear. Via the touch screen on the centre console, I could play around not only on the intensity of the light but also, point and direct the direction in which I wanted the light to focus on. How smart is that. The A8L makes back massage a thing of the past with an option to have a foot massage. Yes you read it right, the A8L comes with the options of foot massage too.

Overall I would say, the Audi A8L’s interiors are nice place to be, whether at the front or the rear. Yes they feel tech laden, but put a Mercedes-Benz S Class in perspective, that car is Special.

In Car Entertainment

The standard setup given by Audi in the A8L is the 750 Watts High Fidelity Sound output, but what I had in the review car was the phenomenal sounding 1920 Watts System. And it’s a no brainer, if you had to choose between one, which one you should go in for.

If you remember while reviewing the S Class, where I had mentioned that the Burmeister there is more tuned towards synthesizers, and low notes sounded phenomenally well, I did not face any such issue with the B&O here.

The 3D Advanced Sound System boasts 23 speakers, 23 channels of amplification, 1920W of power, and a new arrangement of height speakers.

Not only do they appear in the car’s A-pillars, they're also built into the roof lining for the first time, just above the rear doors. The system also uses a new version of the Fraunhofer Symhorium algorithm.

With 3D sound turned on, the sound certainly appeared to have a greater sense of height and spaciousness.Turned off, the sound-field appeared to drop down from the roof, you lost a little in terms of immersion, and the impact of the door speakers became more apparent.The audio output is totally immersive and lets you forget the world that passes by.

If you are an audiophile yourself, then it’s a no brainer, and you should get your A8L retro fitted with the Bang & Olufsen 23 speaker setup.

Performance- Engine & Gearbox

VW Group as a whole are concentrating on the petrols in the market and hence it was a no brainer that the Audi would get the A8L with a petrol only option. What you get therefore is a 3 litre Turbo Petrol in V6 configuration churning out 335 HP and 500 NM of torque, mated to a 8 speed gearbox. The numbers on paper sound substantial and you expect explosive performance from it. But let me tell you, this is not a performance sedan, this is a luxury saloon, designed to keep the occupants, in utmost comfort. The engine is thoroughly refined and smooth and the power delivery is linear. Keeping it linear is the 8 speed gear box which surprisingly is not VW groups DSG, but ZF sourced Torque Converter Unit. There are paddle shifters behind the steering wheel, should you want to have some fun behind the steering wheel.

Performance- Ride, Handling & Drivability

Audi’s were never known to be driver’s cars. They never were tuned that way. Nor is this A8L tuned that way. The steering wheel is light, the suspension is setup on softer side and the car glides over practically everything that you throw at her, owing to its air suspension setup. Another problem associated with air suspensions is the fact that it makes the car wobbly, thankfully, this A8L does not feel that way. It feels planted at all the times.

Dynamic rear steering was optional, but our test car came fitted with one. What it did was, it allowed to maneuver this long wheel base car, as if it was a hatchback. The overall all around visibility is also good in the A8L owning to the large glass areas and relatively less thicker A Pillar. On highways, the A8L really shines. There is zero engine noise coming in, vibrations and harshness are virtually non existent and the car shuts out the outside noise, out.

There are 5 different driving modes to choose from. It ranges from Efficiency, which basically is the Eco Mode, to Individual. Then there is Comfort, Auto and Dynamic in between. The Audi A8L is the only car in the segment to come with 4 wheel drive. While in comfort the car feels mushy mushy, put the car in Dynamic Mode, then the suspension becomes stiffer, adjusts the steering, makes the gearbox more responsive and then the car goes into corner- pretty well. Well, still, this thing isn’t a 7 Series and hence isn’t as sharp as the 7. But, I must say, satisfies your hunger well.

Owing to the dynamic rear steering, the car is livable in city traffic conditions. No where am I saying it is not bothersome, yes the length of the car does bother you, but bit of it is taken care, when you want to undertake sharp turns.

The Verdict

Well, the segment leader in the ultra luxury sedans always has been the S Class. This is true not only in India, but globally also.

Technically, this Audi A8L is a two year old design now. With most of its rivals either getting their facelift ready or have already launched the facelift variants. Then comes the question, why should you really buy the Audi A8L.

The answer to that question is pretty simple. For starters, the Audi A8L as of now is a CBU. The build quality and detailing therefore is top notch. Secondly, the A8L comes with the most modern looking and tech savvy interiors. Thirdly, all around the car feels premium, the quality of materials used, the pour wood finish, the brushed aluminum inserts, everything feels in place.

Yes it may not be the drivers car, but then hey, who pays INR 1.55 CR ex-showroom price to drive? So, if you have that kind of money, money which you can splurge on things that you want to buy, this A8L should definitely be in your parking lot.

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About Author
Nilesh Sawant
Nilesh Sawant

With an experience of over 3 lac kms of driving across the continents and with extensive experience of driving on the tracks, and passion for technical things around anything on wheels, reviews written by Nilesh are crisp and to the point.  



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