A8 a superb mix of power, sophistication
THE RIDE: Four-door, five-passenger 2011 Audi A8L (long wheelbase) luxury sedan. DOWN THE ROAD: Redesigned for the year, the A8 gets more horsepower (up by 22) and torque (3 pounds-feet) to produce a graceful and lively ride. Providing peace of mind in any road situation or weather condition is the renowned quattro all-wheel drive. TECH & PERFORMANCE: A 4.2-liter direct-injection V-8 engine pumps out 372 hp at 6800 rpm and 328 pounds-feet of torque at 3500 rpm. This allows the flagship sedan to accelerate to 60 mph in just 5.8 seconds, a major feat for a 4,453-pound vehicle. An 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission (6 speeds will soon become extinct!) results in a quiet and smooth drive train. An electronically controlled, continuously adaptive air suspension system at all four wheels delivers admirable poise and stability. The powerful brakes, which feature 14.9-inch front and 14-inch rear ventilated discs, have a firm pedal feel. They operate inside 19-inch alloy wheels shod with 255/45 tires. LOOK & FEEL: The aluminum-alloy structure-based A8 sports a massive mesh grille with the familiar four Audi rings, which is flanked by adaptive xenon plus LED headlights. The cabin is packed with all the luxury accoutrements expected in a ride of this class. A revamped MMI, which uses a main control knob for navigation (retractable dash screen), telephone and radio systems, is simple to operate. Offering a solid grip is the splendid and inimitable yacht-like shifter knob. Rear-seat passengers will enjoy abundant headroom and luxury-liner legroom. Also standard are a four-spoke power tilt/telescopic steering column, 18-way heated power front seats, rear and side power sun shades, dual auto a/c system, open/close power trunk, LED ambient lights, HD radio and a Audi Drive Select so the driver can pick dynamic, comfort, auto or individual modes.SAFETY FIRST: Dual front and side airbags, front knee airbags, side curtain airbag, Electronic Stabilization Program, Audi parking system with rearview camera, front/rear three-point safety belts and limited-slip differential, four-wheel antilock brakes, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights are standard. OUT THE DOOR: $84,000, plus tax, tag, delivery and destination charges. BY THE NUMBERS: Wheelbase, 122.9 inches; length, 207.4 inches; fuel capacity, 23.8 gallons; city, 17 mpg; highway, 27 mpg; website, www.audiusa.com WHY DIG IT: The A8 exhibits outstanding performance as occupants savor the lavishness of an elegant and spacious cabin. Indeed, the sedan is a fantastic blend of power and sophistication.