Like its predecessors, the newest A8 sedan features aluminum construction to keep weight down. Since making its debut in 1997, every A8 has been a study in perfect proportions, and this one doesn’t deviate from that lineage. It has received some criticism for not looking “different enough” from the lesser Audis, and the droopy LED daytime running lights inside the headlights have been likened to the eyelids of an anesthetized cat, but the A8 is still a very pretty car. Its interior is elegant and modern, with a boat-themed shifter that is, unfortunately, cumbersome to use. All-wheel drive remains standard equipment — no surprise as the A8’s main German competitors (the BMW 7-Series and the Mercedes S-class) now offer many all-wheel-drive variants. A few inches longer than the last A8, this is now among the bigger cars in its class, in both short- and long-wheelbase versions. The base V-8 engine uses direct injection (but no forced induction — unlike most of Audi’s other engines) to eke out 372 hp from only 4.2 liters of displacement, and with the help of a well-tuned eight-speed automatic transmission, forward thrust is considerable. For obscene forward thrust, the W-12 returns this year, enlarged by a third of a liter to 6.3 liters and producing 50 more hp than before. The truly impatient can look for the S8 to return later this year with a twin-turbo V-8 that produces 520 hp and is capable of a blistering 4.1-second run to 60 mph.

Drive: 4-wheel
Trim levels: A8 4.2 Quattro, A8 L 4.2 Quattro,
A8 L W12 Quattro
Body style: Sedan, 5-passenger
Engines: 4.2L V-8, 372 hp, 328 lb-ft
6.3L W-12, 500 hp, 463 lb-ft
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Passenger Volume: 115.1-121.9 cu ft
Cargo space: 13.2 cu ft

The A8 was new last year and carries forward with only minor changes. For example, Audi Connect with Google Earth and Wi-Fi hot-spot capability is now standard. The big news is under the hood of the top-of-the-line, long-wheelbase A8 L W12. It uses a new 6.3-liter W-12 engine that produces 500 hp and 463 lb-ft of torque, up 50 hp from the last twelve-cylinder.

Dual-stage front, side, and side curtain air bags; rear side air bags; traction and stability control; and ABS are standard. Blind-spot monitoring, adaptive headlights, Audi Pre Sense Plus, and lane assist are optional.

All: 14-18 mpg city/21-28 mpg highway

  • Relatively lightweight
  • Good fuel economy (V-8)
  • High-tech, stylish interiors
  • Doesn’t carry the prestige of some competitors
  • Smallish trunk

The aluminum flagship.

  • BMW 7-series
  • Hyundai Equus
  • Lexus LS
  • Mercedes-Benz S-class
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