Bigger, more luxurious, and more expensive than the regular A8, the long-wheelbase 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 an impressively long list of potent, refined engine options.
For the previous model year, Audi replaced the A8 L's naturally aspirated V8 with a pair of new motors - a supercharged V6 and an absurdly powerful twin-turbocharged V8. The latest model year brings yet another new motor in the form of an optional turbodiesel capable of 36 mpg on the highway.
Measuring in at a limo-like 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 is an exceedingly hedonistic space. The big sedan can be equipped with power reclining rear seats complete with heat, ventilation and massage function, as well as a full-length rear center console.
Of course, rear seat passengers aren't the only ones getting pampered. Audi has long been renowned for its mastery of interior design, and the A8 L's dashboard makes the front of the cabin a special space with its exquisite materials and stately layout. Navigation and entertainment functions are accessed through Audi's MMI system, which includes a novel touchpad for entering destinations or other info by writing out numbers and letters with a finger. It's one of the more intuitive infotainment setups on the market, although some users find that its location at the base of the center console requires a bit of a reach.
The navigation system includes Audi Connect, which features in-car internet connectivity and industry-first Google Earth integration - complete with panoramic views and high-resolution 3D satellite and aerial imagery.
With a substantial "singleframe" grille, LED-accented headlights and gracefully arched side windows, the A8 L looks much like a supersized version of Audi's other sedan models. Some might wish for a more distinctive look, while other will find the classy, understated sheetmetal to be a good match for the relaxed demeanor of a large luxury sedan.
Like the space frame that lies beneath, nearly all of the A8 L's exterior panels are made of aluminum. This means the Audi is one of the lighter rides in its competitive set, even with its standard quattro AWD system, which benefits everything from handling to fuel economy.
Power and Handling
The A8 L is available with a no less than four engine options.
The standard mill is a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 that produces 333 horsepower and 328 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is rated at 18 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.
The mid-level gasoline motor is a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8, which is good for 420 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. Several publications have reported that the V8-equipped A8 is capable of accelerating from zero-to-60 mph in under four seconds, which is quite fleet for such a large machine. Despite the additional output, the V8 nearly matches the V6's fuel economy with a 16/26 mpg rating.
For those who delight in excess, there's a massive 6.3-liter W12 that churns out an even 500 horsepower and 463 lb-ft of torque. Unsurprisingly, the trade-off for all of that power is a drinking problem: efficiency is rated at just 13/21 mpg.
The new oil-burning option is a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6. Good for an economy car-like 24/36 mpg, it churns out 240 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of twist.
All four motors pair with a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox and Audi's quattro all-wheel-drive system.
The A8 L is fitted as standard with a full air suspension that contributes to the expected pillowy ride but also provides unusually deft handling. Dynamics can be further tightened up with the optional Sport Plus Package, which brings adaptive dampers, dynamic steering a rear sport differential that sends torque to the outside rear wheel in turns to quell understeer.
An Audi Drive Select System offers drivers the choice of several different suspension, steering, transmission and engine calibrations.
Standard and Optional Features
The A8 L comes well-equipped with wall to wall leather upholstery, heated and power-adjustable front seats, a navigation system with SiriusXM Traffic, a 14-speaker, 630-watt Bose AM/FM/CD/SiriusXM/HD Radio Surround Sound System, Bluetooth connectivity, front and rear parking sensors, a rear parking camera, a sunroof, a power rear sunshade, power rear side window shades, four-zone automatic climate control, LED taillights, adaptive xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, and 19-inch alloy wheels.
Several different options packages are available.
The Rear Seat Comfort Package adds power-reclining rear seats with power-adjustable lumber support and heating, and front passenger seat adjustment from rear.
The Driver Assistance Package brings adaptive cruise control, a 360-degree bird's-eye camera system, Audi pre-sense plus (full description in safety section), Audi side assist and lane assist, and auto-dimming high beams.
The Sport Plus Package adds adaptive damping, a sports differential and dynamic steering.
The Panorama Sunroof Package includes an oversized sunroof along with rear vanity mirrors and additional rear reading lights.
The Premium Package includes 22-way power adjustable front seats with ventilation and massage, full LED headlights, Audi side assist and Audi pre sense rear.
The Luxury Package indulges with Valcona diamond-stitched leather seating surfaces, extended leather upholstery, sport front seats, alcantara headliner and dual-panel acoustic glass.
The Cold Weather Package includes a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats and a rear seat pass-through with ski bag.
Stand-alone options include Night Vision Assistant with Pedestrian Detection, a Bang & Olufsen sound system and a rear entertainment system.
Notably, the A8 L W12 features many of the options packages and standard equipment.
All A8 L models come standard with dual front, front knee, front side, rear side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems.
Optional safety features include active lane assist, which warns the driver when the A8 is wandering into an adjacent lane and can even gently steer the car back into the original lane. There's also Audi pre sense, which can detect obstacles in front of the A8 and apply the brakes to prevent a crash or mitigate its severity. Finally, Audi side assist alerts the driver when a vehicle is in one of the A8 L's rear blind spots.
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.