Bigger, more luxurious, and more expensive than the regular A8, the A8 L is Audi's flagship of flagships. It features a well-appointed interior with an extravagant amount of space for rear-seat passengers and a choice of V6, V8 or V12 powerplants.
Audi also recently added an optional turbodiesel motor, which offers 36 mpg on highway in addition to a stout 406 lb-ft of torque.
Measuring in at a lengthy 207.4 inches, the A8 L is 5.4 inches longer than the standard A8 sedan, with that extra length translating directly to more rear-seat legroom.
As the A8 L is designed to chauffeur around top-level titans of industry, the rear cabin has been substantial improved, including such subtle details as wood-trimmed roof-mounted grab handles and a four-zone air conditioning system with 25 adjusting motors.
For those wanting even more luxury, the A8 L can be ordered with power reclining rear seats complete with heat, ventilation and massage function, as well as a full-length rear center console.
The latest A8 L utilizes Audi's new, super-flexible "MLP" architecture, in a stretched format. This is the same chassis used for the A4, A5 and the A7. The A8 L sees extensive use of aluminum and magnesium in an effort to keep the large sedan's weight down.
The A8 L also feature the newest version of Audi's quattro all-wheel-drive system, which features torque vectoring. This distributes drive individually between each axle and between the rear wheels for improved traction and stability.
The A8's multimedia interface (MMI) combines the standard (in the U.S.) navigation system with a touchpad. MMI touch enables the driver to control many functions intuitively such as inputting the navigation destination by writing the letters on the pad with the touch of a finger.
The MMI system can recognize complex scenarios and make anticipatory decisions to assist the driver. The new technologies include a night vision assist with marking of detected pedestrians, the Audi pre-sense safety system, as well as a speed limit display.
Another high-end solution on board the new A8 is full LED headlights, which use light emitting diodes for all light functions. They give the luxury sedan an unmistakable appearance even in daylight and even more so after the fall of darkness.
Combining the high-tech MMI system and LED headlights, Audi's navigation unit predicts the road ahead and adjusts the light pattern accordingly. This function will enable special output in highway settings, and even activate a cornering light for wider-angle illumination when entering an intersection.
The standard engine on the A8 L is a supercharged 3.0-liter V6. The new mill makes less power than the eight-cylinder - 333 horsepower and 325 lb-ft. Curiously, the new engine doesn't improve on the fuel economy of the old V8, actually returning the same 28 mpg on the highway and 17 in the city cycle, one worse than than before.
A new stop/start system shuts off the V6 when the car stopped at traffic lights or in stop-and-go traffic, which should help real-world fuel economy.
Those looking for a bit more power can opt for the new 4.0-liter twin-turbo. Essentially a de-tuned version of the S8′s motor, the mill produces 420 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque, substantial improvements from the 372 ponies and 328 lb-ft served up by the old V8. Efficiency is rated at 16/26 mpg.
A W12 exists for those hungering after a truly potent powerplant - this 6.3-liter motor produces 500 horsepower and 463 lb-ft of torque while returning 14/21 mpg.
The latest addition to the sedan's powertrain lineup is a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6. Good for 24/36 mpg, it churns out 240 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of twist.
All four engines team with an eight-speed tiptronic automatic transmission with manual mode. Manual gear selection is available via steering wheel rockers or by using the regular gear selection lever.
Every A8 L model features the newest version of Quattro, which includes torque vectoring. This system distributes drive individually between each axle and between the rear wheels for improved traction and stability. An optional sport differential distributes power between the rear wheels for optimal performance under hard cornering.
Standard and Optional Features
The A8 L is the flagship model in Audi's sedan range, a fact reflected in its long list of standard luxury, convenience and technology features. Included in the price of entry is leather upholstery, genuine wood trim, a navigation system with real-time traffic info, a 14-speaker, 630-watt AM/FM/CD/DVD Bose stereo with an aux input and iPod integration, Bluetooth connectivity, a power rear window sunshade, a sunroof and heated front seats.
Highlights from the lengthy options list include full LED headlamps, a 1,400-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system, ventilated seats and adaptive cruise control.
On the safety front, the A8 boasts 25 percent increased static torsional rigidity due to new welding technologies, which it claims lead to improved fuel economy and handling characteristics. The A8 also features Audi Braking Guard to warn drivers of potential impacts, as well as automatic emergency braking in the event of an unavoidable accident to minimize impact.
Other safety gear includes dual front, side and front and rear curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems, electronic brakeforce distribution and emergency brake assist.
Rivals to the A8 L with a similar emphasis on rear seat comfort include long-wheelbase versions of the BMW 7-Series and Jaguar XJ along with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, which comes standard in LWB form.