Review: 2013 Audi A8L

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SEATTLE, WA, June 5, 2013 —  Most of the finer things in life come at a price, but those finer things often bring with them a host of luxuries that make the cost of them “worth it”. With its 2013 A8L (L is the longer version of the A8), Audi pulls no punches in delivering an exquisite experience for the driver and the passengers with its “executive seating package” – which our test model was equipped with. Priced at $115k (the base model of the A8 starts around $78k), this vehicle is rewarding on many levels.

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What makes an Audi and “Audi” is driving performance, and to answer that call is a powerful 4.0-Liter V8 engine which pumps out 420 horsepower @ 5000rpm and 444 lb-ft of torque at only 1500rpm which means you feel it “launch” very quickly. Audi rates the car’s 0-60 time 4.8 seconds – Motor Trend achieved it in only 4.2 seconds with a quarter-mile time of 12.6 at 110mph. An 8-speed automatic transmission with a manual mode and paddle shifters on the steering column help add to the performance and to its fuel economy of 16/26mpg. If you contrast those performance numbers to its peers from Mercedes, BMW and Lexus, the car becomes quite the “value”.

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Of course all of this power is firmly planted into Audi’s legendary Quattro all-wheel-drive system which means you should have little to no issues driving the car in most any condition, assuming you swap out between summer and winter tires. While it does do a good job of keeping a rear-wheel bias, drivers may still experience just a hint of understeer, however, it’s nothing that is bothersome or takes away from the overall fun-factor of driving this high-performance “limo”.  Having said that, the overall handling of this car, especially when considering how large it really is, is quite extraordinary. Good sense of “control’ for the drive in those more demanding times yet retaining full luxury while doing it.

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The driver is welcomed by an interior fit and finish that is world-class. All the materials inside seemed very purposed, well put together and give one a very satisfying, comforting feeling. Good quality components and texture of them speak volumes about the care in which Audi’s team took in designing this car’s interior.

Its MMI (multimedia interface) system, featuring Google Earth, is quite simply the best  anywhere. You have various ways of viewing the maps with Google’s best-of-class accuracy on a screen that is large and looks very good. It is all easily controlled by a center column dial and a series of buttons. In addition, there’s also a touchpad which allows the driver to input letters and numbers manually by simply drawing them out.

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Its easy-to-see instrument cluster is put together very nicely as well . There is an infrared, night-vision mode for those times when you may have difficulties seeing what’s ahead of you. When this mode is enabled, the area between the speedometer and tachometer shows the video-display. The technology is somewhat pointless, however, as it is not dsplayd on the windshield.

Well-respected audiophile company, Bang and Olfusen supplies the speakers and amplification for the audio system, which even has flush-mounted tweeters that pop-up out of the dash when powering on the car. Sure, it’s a bit overkill and not very practical, but sure is cool. Overall sound quality and staging is really good, however, it does lack any serious bass punch. Audi could have selected a better-sounding system for this car.

Inside, the A8L pampers most everyone. The front passenger is somewhat slighted, however, missing out on amenities such as rear-seat massage. Audi states it’s because the car is setup like a “limo” where the VIP passenger rides just behind the front passenger. To accommodate this rear VIP position, Audi made it so the front-right seat can fold down into becoming a foot rest, eliminating the room necessary to equip that seat with massage.

Rear passengers are treated to a similar luxury that one would find flying first-class on a wide-body jet. Each has their own entertainment screen where they can watch videos, have their own Navigation screen, use a video game system (yes, there is also an A/C power outlet on-board as well) or use Audi’s limited internet connectivity. There is even a mini-refrigerator behind the center panel that you could probably fit a couple of wine bottles into.

In the end, the A8L delivers high-performance luxury in spades. It has best of class performance, inspired luxury with enough pampering of its passengers to make it an amazing touring car. While our press vehicle did top the price-spectrum, you should consider its peers from Mercedes, Lexus and BMW, none of which offer the A8L’s performance. For those on more of a budget, you can find base models for just below $80k.

Audi offers a 4-year / 50,000 warranty and the first 12-months / 5,000 miles of maintenance included – not bad, but it’d be great to see that extended in the future. For now, however, if you want a car that has beautiful, distinct body lines, breathtaking power and luxury, this is your ticket to ride.

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