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Smooth as a hovercraft

A first impression is usually a very hard act to follow. Are the new Audi A8’s interiors really as special as they’re slated to be? We just have to have a second look.

autos Updated: Feb 04, 2011 01:14 IST

A first impression is usually a very hard act to follow. Are the new Audi A8’s interiors really as special as they’re slated to be? We just have to have a second look. Once inside the car, it takes only seconds to confirm it — this clearly is one of the finest interiors in any luxury car. It has everything: acres of space, a fresh and modern design, the finest quality materials and most importantly, a massive sense of occasion.

The dash runs around you in a sweep. The design has a yacht-like vibe with wood, brushed aluminium, leather and chrome highlights. This long wheelbase version — the only Audi that will sell in India for now — has a really special back seat too. Known as the ‘rear seat executive package’, this one has no dearth of space — 13cm more on this long wheelbase version. The seats are cooled, they massage you, you have a mini fridge at your elbow, and rear-seat passengers get their own entertainment screen as well. You can also set these seats to a slouch and prop your feet up on a footrest that emerges from the seat ahead. The ‘rear executive seat package’, however, could cost as much as an additional R4 lakh.

Ride quality
The car glides over rutted sections of the Rajasthan highway like it’s a hovercraft, absorbing knocks with the suppleness of a ballet dancer. How has Audi managed this? Smaller wheels to begin with, a raised ride height on the air suspension and possibly lower air pressure.

And what a motor this 372bhp FSI V8 is! Very refined and smooth, obviously, but also a motor that loves to wind till the limiter at 7000rpm. In town, the A8L cruises effortlessly, with plenty of torque always at hand, and the eight-speed gearbox that’s ready to drop you a few gears at the slightest twitch of your right foot.

Flawless driving manners are one of this car’s USPs and Audi as a result, has decided to launch its petrol V8 before more practical models. Yes, a 3.0 TDi will follow soon, but if you want to drive, it has to be this petrol car. The unique aluminium space frame chassis, Audi’s famous Quattro system and a sophisticated suspension setup make this car as smooth as the Audi A4.

The car is lowered as soon as you select a sportier suspension setting.

The gearbox and engine responses tighten up when you select ‘S’ on the gear lever and the A8L just takes off and turns in with the agility of a two-seater. However, like most Audis, this car’s helm lacks feel and you often wish the steering were a little more talkative.

Autocar India

Audi a8L
Price: Starting at R91 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai)
Top speed: 250kph
Length: 5,267mms
Width: 2,111mm
Height: 1,471mm
Wheelbase: 3,211mm
Kerb weight: 1,885kg
Engine: 8 cyls in Vee, 4163cc, petrol, DOHC
Installation: Front, longitudinal
Power: 372bhp at 6,800rpm
Torque: 45.37kgm at 3,500rpm
Gearbox: 8-speed automatic
Fuel tank: 90 litres
Boot volume: 510 litres

This car looks too generic, too much like an A4. Priced at R1.3 crore (approximately), it comes costly. However, you can’t deny that for the first time, Audi has a car that can take on the BMW 7-series and the Mercedes S-Class and hope to win. And that’s a massive step forward for Audi — the quiet and slightly reserved, but very high-tech car-maker.