In the tycoon-cocoon saloon segment, the Audi A8 plays second fiddle to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7 Series, despite being equally first-rate in its amenities, materials and technologies. The A8 is also their equal in terms of prestige (high), price (high, too) and ownership privileges (such as VIP invites, wine-and-dine activities, golf games).
A starring role in The Transporter cemented the A8’s celebrity status, while progressive updates since then boosted the limo’s driveability, with the most recent improvements injecting even more sport into “The Transport”, tested here in supercharged and super-smooth 3-litre V6 format.
Audi tweaked the engine to deliver more power (an additional 20bhp for a total of 310bhp), better economy (1.9 kilometres further on every litre of petrol) and lower emission of CO2 (cut by 33g per kilometre).
The 0-100km/h timing has dipped below the 6-second mark (5.9, to be exact), which brings the car closer (on paper and asphalt alike) to the 320bhp/450Nm BMW 740Li in outright acceleration. If the road is slippery, the A8 might accelerate ahead of the Bimmer, thanks to quattro all-wheel-drive that grips like a German gecko with 19-inch alloy toes.
Lounge lizards will also appreciate the interior – roomy, comfy, swanky, and with a slightly bigger boot than before. The standard-equipment list is as long as the wheelbase and includes Audi niceties such as adaptive air suspension, “concert hall” entertainment, “know-all-the-answers” information, upmarket leather upholstery, freezingly effective four-zone automatic air-conditioning, powered privacy blinds and a 360-degree camera system.
Tempting options include Alcantara trim ($9100), a panoramic glass roof ($8500) and a head-up display ($8500). Audiophiles with a ear (and the cash) for the “highest” of high-fidelity music on the move can opt for a state-of-the-art Bang & Olufsen sound system, which has a big-bang price tag of $32,000.
Looking expensive, too, is the A8 cabin’s detailing. The grooved chrome strips inside the door frames and the handcut wood veneers of the rear tray tables, for example, could have been done by artisans in “Bentley Germany”.
Before deciding whether Audi’s new emo limo is right for you, ask yourself: “Am I a fast ‘transporter’ or a fat tycoon?”
ENGINE 2995cc, 24-valves, V6, supercharged
MAX POWER 310bhp at 5200-6500rpm
MAX TORQUE 440Nm at 2900-4750rpm
GEARBOX 8-speed automatic with manual select
0-100KM/H 5.9 seconds
TOP SPEED 250km/h (governed)
CONSUMPTION 12.7km/L (combined)
CO2 EMISSION 184g/km
PRICE INCL. COE
$422,200 (no CEVS rebate/surcharge)