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First class luxe travel

autos Updated: Mar 25, 2011 01:03 IST
Ameya Dandekar
Ameya Dandekar
Hindustan Times
HINDUSTAN TIMES

It takes a single run to fully understand and appreciate the gravity of efforts put in by Audi to develop the A8L. The attention to detail is uncanny, giving you the best of luxuries. Crafted with larger confident brush strokes, the new A8L is as sharp and as crisp as any Audi.

At first glance, A8’s interiors look like a cross between the insides of a luxury yacht and a business jet.

Plush interiors
Polished wood and brushed aluminium inserts lend a touch of class. White lighting, chrome, wood and leather give it a sense of occasion — the styling is more avant-garde than traditional.

Audi’s MMI system controls many functions, but a proliferation of buttons and dials can be used to control most features as well. However, this sometimes tends to become a bewildering, until you take a closer look at it.

Entertainment, information and communication levels can be adjusted from the MMI. You can alter settings for the engine, gearbox, suspension, steering, headlights and seat belts. You also get nifty features like a night vision camera, massaging seats, cruise control and an optional Rs 6.5 lakh Bang & Olufsen stereo.

The driving position can be fine- tuned to perfection and all-round visibility is better than you expect, given the thick pillars that usually come with aluminium-bodied cars. Push a button and the front passenger’s seat slides all the way forward and a footrest pops out for the passenger sitting at the rear. The rear seats can be reclined further and there’s a separate massage function built in as well.

Like a supercar
Audi’s direct injection V8 is a very special motor. Also used to power the mid-engined R8 supercar, this motor elevates the A8L to another level. On offer are 372 fired-up horses and 45.37 kgm of twist from 3,500 rpm. Flat-out 100 kph is dispatched in a blistering 6.4 seconds and the A8L reaches a top speed of 250 kph without losing its breath. Remember the size and weight of this car to get a full measure of what Audi has accomplished here. And it’s creamy, totally hushed and super refined when out cruising.

The A8 has multiple suspension settings. In Comfort mode, the car absorbs most of the bumps with ease and this mode is best for city use. The other extreme, Sport, makes the A8 feel distinctly tauter but the ride is too stiff for most of our roads. We found the Normal mode to be the best compromise for high-speed transit as it offers a flat yet pliant ride, with good body control.

The light and quick steering makes the A8 effortless to drive in town but you need to keep an eye out for its marine dimensions, which can be quite a handful in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Poor ground clearance is also a bit of an issue. There is a lift mode to increase the car’s clearance by 20 mm but that doesn’t really help over wide speed-breakers.

Verdict
The A8L is a step forward for Audi. It is more advanced and has a fantastic 4.2L V8 engine. There’s a considerable amount of road noise in the cabin at high speed, and even then, the ride isn’t as settled as it could be that speed. Priced at R89 lakhs, competitors need to look out.