Audi A8

It’s taken me a week and around 600miles to really make myself comfortable with the Audi 8.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to say that Audi’s flagship executive saloon is in anyway uncomfortable, far, far from it in fact, it’s just that when there are so many ways in which you can tailor it to your individual needs it takes a while before you really feel like you know it.

At first there’s the seat. Of course it’s electrically adjusted – what else would you expect in a car that must be one of, if not the, definitive high speed Business-Class autobahn cruiser? On first impressions the driver’s throne feels a little flat and lacking a little in lateral support. And, if I’m totally honest, the leather that covers it feels a bit slippy too. But, these things can easily be sorted out. Although the buttons that control it’s movement, in every conceivable direction I might add , feel decidedly more executive than they do luxury (they’re made of plastic rather than metal), a tweek of the one shaped like a backrest, a dab on the round one that plumps the lumber, and a longer push on the lozenged-shaped one to get the seat lowered - the delivery driver it would appear liked to rub is bonce on the headlining; a little more at the back than at the front please, that’s how I like it,– and with a bit of patience the A8 feels far more accommodating. I never did figure out how to adjust the headrest though, but at least the steering column adjusts for reach and rake and the seatbelt loop on the B-pillar is electrically adjustable too.

Then there’s the ride. I’d forgive you for assuming that for the 4 hour, 200 mile journey from my place to Goodwood, (for this year’s Festival of Speed, an annual and most pleasurable pilgrimage) the A8’s Comfort setting for its air suspension would be the most suitable; waft over the South Downs, after wafting first through Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire,…. I could go on. The reality however is that the Dymamic setting is actually the better one, it stiffens up the dampers, ups the throttle response and sharpens and adds weight to what otherwise is a somewhat lifeless and near feather-light steering system. If you prefer to actually drive, rather than just guide your A8, it is undoubtedly the setting to go for. I’ve always preferred a waft to a wallow.

By scrolling and then pressing the little aluminium wheel that takes care of all of these settings round to Dymamic you also automatically select the Sport S setting for the 8-speed gearbox. That strangely is not the ideal option. Although more than up to the task of propelling the A8 at high speed for hours on end, and when required, for disdainfully dismissing a Sunday afternoon dawdler or three, (sometimes in one go),  the twin-turbo 3.0litre diesel engine works best when you’re not trying to hurry it. As a result, the Standard D setting for the tiptronic ‘box - available only in the Dymanic driving mode if you de-select  the aforementioned Sport S mode with the T-shaped selector, (apologies if this all seems rather complicated)  - feels by-far the oil-burner’s more suited ally. It also helps keep the mpg figures up. By picking my options carefully, and then saving them as my preferred Individual settings, I drove the A8 all week, including my schlep to Goodwood and back and never once bothered a fuel pump. Afterwards I then handed it back to Audi with range meter still saying it was good for 180 miles. I can’t fail to be impressed by that, especially when you consider the A8 is feels nearly as big as my front room.

I was impressed too by the Bose radio, but at £1,175 on top of the £61,360 your Audi dealer requests before handing you the keys to an A8 3.0 TDi SE quattro (as per the one tested) I’d jolly-well expect to be.

For that kind of money I’d also expect a little more from the A8’s looks. In a world, or a supermarket car park at least, where it seems that the whole world and his wife now drive a something resplendent with a four-ringed badge it’s all too easy to wander past the A8 a few times before actually realising that it is in fact your car. I know, because I did, and I did more than once. These days, even for me, it’s all too hard to tell the front of an A4 from an A5, A6, A7 or indeed an A8. It’s no wonder that Audi offer an options list, for “personalisation”, that reads like the Ingolstadt phone book.

But, one could also argue that that is entirely the A8’s raison d’etre.  It is after all a car in which to do business, rather than a car built to purely look the business; ultimately it’s very well cut business suit on four big wheels.

To the people at which it is ultimately aimed the fact that you can tailor said suit to your every whim without ever drawing too much unwanted attention to yourself must surely only add to the  appeal of this most confident, capable and most of all discreet of machines.

Audi A8 3.0 TDi SE Quattro SE Executive

Engine: 2,967cc V6 cylinder twin-turbo-diesel

Transmission: 8 speed tiptronic auto with manual option

Power:  258 bhp @ 4000 rpm

Torque: 428 lbft @ 1750 rpm

0-62MPH: 5.9 Sec

Max Speed: 155 mph

CO2: 149g/km

MPG: 49.6 combined

Price: From £61,360 (car driven £61,685)

Many thanks to Louise and Katie at Audi’s UK press office for the loan of the A8

www.liam-bird.com

@bird_liam

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Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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