In my mind, the Audi A8 will always be associated with The Transporter. Black, quick and nimble, the saloon is a worthy co-star of Jason Statham/Frank Martin. It’s also comfortable for “packages”, even in the boot.
The model-year 2014 A8 you see on this page is white, not black, but it’s even quicker and nimbler than its 6-litre W12-powered “movie star” predecessor.
The latest engine is a state-of-the-art, twin-turbo 4-litre V8 similar to the one that makes the Flying Spur V8 fly (facing page), albeit in a lower state of tune. The output is anything but low, though – 435bhp and 600Nm, sent to a quattro permanent all-wheel-drive system through an 8-speed Tiptronic transmission.
With just a few thousand revs on the tachometer, the powertrain already pulls like an unstoppable Teutonic train. There’s no need to rev above 4000rpm or step beyond 3/4 of the throttle pedal travel to make the A8 accelerate rapidly and relentlessly. And the gearchanges are so smooth that the only obvious indications of the gearbox swopping ratios are the changes in engine note and the actions of the tacho needle.
The A8’s acceleration is even more urgent with the gearlever in S and the full travel of the throttle pedal utilised. When the A8 is in road-attack mode, the V8 soundtrack is noticeable from inside the cabin, but more noteworthy from outside the vehicle.
With 265/40 R20 footwear (Goodyear Eagle F1s, no less), the ride quality is firm, but you can take the edge off by putting the Drive Select into “comfort”.
If you aspire to be the Transporter from Singapore, “dynamic” would be your main mode – it stiffens the adaptive air suspension and electromechanical steering, and gets the Audi ready for a spot of stunt driving (maybe to grab that last available carpark lot). The car is large, but its grip is just as big, so it powers confidently through corners – dry or damp. This vehicle only feels clumsy when making a fast U-turn.
Speaking of which, the signal light sequence is funkier than before – it “pulses” from the inner edge towards the outer periphery.
Incidentally, the headlights employ fancy Matrix LED technology (they look fantastic and illuminate, uh, fantastically), and even the reverse lamps are sleek LED affairs. The Germans continue to shine in automotive lighting.
The interior of the long-wheelbase A8 is very roomy, packed with Audi amenities and lined with luxurious leather from numerous continental cows. The driver’s seat offers a multitude of electric adjustments that guarantee the perfect, preferred driving position.
But there are a few niggles that might irritate the aspiring Transporter – for instance, he must nudge the gearlever with just the right amount of pressure to go from D to R, or it’ll overshoot to P; the driver’s footrest is slightly squeezed against the left side of the footwell, where it’s also a bit warm; and the infotainment system still doesn’t offer the saved radio stations upon start-up (“Entertainment is being initialised. Please wait…”).
But transport for the Transporter doesn’t get better than this limo with mojo.
Audi A8L 4.0 (A)
ENGINE 3993cc, 32-valves, V8, turbocharged
MAX POWER 435bhp at 5100-6000rpm
MAX TORQUE 600Nm at 1500-5000rpm
GEARBOX 8-speed automatic with manual select
0-100KM/H 4.6 seconds
TOP SPEED 250km/h (governed)
PRICE INCL. COE Not available