Audi A8 facelift gets a big V8 diesel under the hood. But is the larger heart worth the extra cash?
What is it?
It’s Audi’s facelifted A8 luxury sedan with a big 4.2-litre V8 diesel motor under the hood. The badge, however, doesn’t say 4.2 TDI anymore and instead, reads 60TDI, in line with the carmaker’s new nomenclature. And with the new badge, the company has given it even more power and torque than before.
Everything else remains pretty much the same as its smaller-hearted (3.0-litre) sibling. So, there's the same comfortable, boardroom-like cabin that cocoons its occupants in an abundance of top-notch leather and wood. And pretty much anything that can be adjusted is powered; seats, sun-blinds and even screen angles for rear passengers. Speaking of which, the independent rear seats do a great job to keep passengers comfortable and knee room is in abundance. That said, the seats lack a bit of that sink-into-them feel you get in an S-class.
Our test car was packed to the hilt with equipment, albeit some of which are expensive options such as, a panoramic sunroof, 360-degree cameras, leather seats, a refrigerator, reclining rear seats, massaging seats and onboard WiFi. While the base car is priced at Rs 1.23 crore, adding these options amongst others pushes the price to around Rs 1.40 crore (all prices ex-showroom, Delhi).
What is it like to drive?
The A8 60TDI is easily the quickest diesel car we’ve tested. Flatten the accelerator and a slight pause later, the freight train-like 86.6kgm of torque catapults the car forward in a way that makes it easy to forget that this luxo-barge tips the scales at over two tonnes. Putting that big wave of torque effectively on the tarmac is done by the carmaker’s four-wheel-drive Quattro system and eight closely stacked gear ratios. At full tilt, it hits 100kph in a sportscar-rivaling 5.08 seconds and pressing on, sees 180kph come up in 16.7 seconds. And only past around 220kph does it start to lose steam.
There’s more to the motor than just impressive numbers. For starters, the V8 engine is really refined at idle and while cruising. On our typically noisy roads, you would hardly guess there’s an oil burner under the hood and only in a quiet environment can you hear a hint of diesel-like growl while accelerating. Partly why the motor feels so hushed while cruising is that it turns over at near-idling speeds (around 1,400rpm) at 120kph in eighth gear.
Speaking of the gearbox, the ZF-made eight-speed unit cycles smoothly through the cogs and is quick to skip down even three gears if the need be. But overall, the 'box is programmed to up shift early and take full advantage of the motor’s big reserves of torque.
What we didn’t like much is that the accelerator feels a bit sticky and is a bit tricky to modulate. The first few millimeters of the pedal feel like a dead zone and if you weigh down on it, the car tends to suddenly lunge forward.
While straight-line performance is fantastic, the A8 TDI is, after all, a big luxury sedan and doesn’t effectively mask its weight around bends. Sure, the four-wheel-drive layout gives it an abundance of grip and this makes it an incredibly quick point-to-point sedan but even when you engage ‘dynamic’ mode (this stiffens the suspension, quickens the steering and alters the differential setting), it doesn’t turn into a car you’ll want to attack corners with. I found myself leaving the car in Comfort mode for most of the time as this makes the big A8 ride in a soft, plush manner.
Should I buy one?
The A8 60TDI starts at Rs. 1.23 crore; that’s around Rs. 10 lakh more than a similarly equipped 3.0 TDI. Frankly, the A8 3.0 TDI is more than adequate for all practical purposes and that makes this car seem a bit over the top. Simply put, if you’re going to be strictly chauffer driven, you’re better off saving the Rs 10 lakh but if you like getting behind the wheel every now and then, the A8 60TDI will make the additional price seem worth it, every single time you mash your right foot into the footwell.