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Audi’s new A8 aims high

autos Updated: Jan 30, 2011 23:11 IST
Sumant Banerji
Sumant Banerji
Hindustan Times
German luxury carmaker

Inspired by the tremendous success achieved by fellow German luxury carmaker BMW in India, Volkswagen group firm Audi India is aiming high in 2011.

The firm is placed at number 3 in the luxury car space behind BMW and Mercedes Benz, but like elsewhere in the world, it is one of the fastest growing firm. With a target of becoming number 1 luxury car brand in the world by 2015, the firm hopes to achieve it much earlier in India and 2011 will see an acceleration in that regard. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/31_01_11_business02a.jpg

What better way to start than launching a refurbished version of its flagship brand A8, one that the firm claims is bigger, better and more desirable than its competitors.

The exterior
Design and styling has for long been Audi's forte. And this is no mean feat considering that its rivals all boast of very good looking cars of their own. Even then if there is one carmaker that has been able to fully capitalise on the need for an executive yet sporty sedan, one which can be driven to the office as well as to a weekend destination, then the Audi is the car to go for.

The new A8 at over 5 metres of length is a big big car but unlike the BMW 7 series, it is so designed that it does not look or feel that big. It is also very distinctive from the other brands with its commanding one piece grille and LED lights. Not to say the four ring logo which makes its known from the outset of the car’s lineage.

Interiors
The new A8 is larger than the older one and that translates to a bigger cabin space at the front and rear. There is ample use of wood, aluminium and leather and together with gadgets such as touchpad for multimedia interface this is one harmonious blend of aesthetics with technology.

However, among the things lacking in the car is navigation maps, which the company does not provide in India despite the car having the necessary infrastructure to back it up. That itself somewhat diminishes the utility of the touchpad. Together with the 22 way power seats with massage and 10 inch LCD screens at the rear, the car boasts of an awesome Bang and Olufsen sound system with as many as 19 speakers.

You would actually need a crash course to figure out where all of them are placed. At the maximum, we could figure out only 15.

Drive & Handling
The A8 is powered by a massive 4.2 litre V8 petrol engine that belts out a humongous 372 horses complimented by a ‘dieselish’ torque of 445 N-m. This is driven by Audi's 8 speed tiptronic transmission. The result is, despite the size, it drives and sounds like a mini car. The handling is such that when required it can glide on the road like a cruiser and when desired it can shoot like a rocket. The car rides on adaptive air suspension which enhances drive-ability and makes it the best suited to tackle the Indian road conditions.

It also has drive options like ‘comfort’ and ‘sport’ and with the switch of a button, one can immediately feel the suspension changing its contours.

Fuel economy
The new A8 uses aluminium like never before, which helps make the car lighter and as a result more fuel efficient. Boasting of a 90 litre fuel tank and an average fuel economy of 7 kmpl in the city and over 13 kmpl on the highway, it gives a full range of over 900 kilometers to a full tank. Clearly, all that aluminium has not been a waste.

Verdict
At the time of going to the press, Audi had not announced the prices but it is expected to be in the range of Rs 86-90 lakh. While that is comparable to the new BMW 7-series and the Mercedes S class, whats stands out for the A8 is how it blends the strengths of the above mentioned cars. In the A8, the rear passenger will feel as contented as the driver as it is a perfect car to drive around as to be driven around. This is a car for keeps and though only the creme de la creme in India can afford this, for those who can, all that money would be well spent.