Senior executives at Mercedes-Benz should be worried. The new Audi A8L 4.2 Quattrosolid, beautifully made, able to cruise at ludicrous speeds all dayis more like what we expect from a Mercedes-Benz than is the current S500. The A8L exudes quality and feels special from the moment you open the door and slide into the seat. Audi of North America expects to sell only 5500 of the new A8s each year, which is a drop in a large bucket compared with the 21,118 big Benzes sold in 2002 but would more than double the rate of the previous A8. The new car is good enough to warrant those extra sales, particularly since it will be very well equipped at a starting price of less than $70,000.
The A8L comes to America on a 121.1-inch wheelbase, 5.2 inches longer than the regular A8. There is one engine, an updated version of Audi's 40-valve, 4.2-liter, DOHC V-8, making 330 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque. It's mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic manu-matic actuation.
As with the new Jaguar XJ, the Audi's styling is conservative, but it is handsome and has real on-road presence. Also like the Jag, the A8L uses adaptive damping allied to air springs to address the ride/handling conundrum.... Read full article