New For 2014
The diesel-powered 2014 Audi A8L 3.0 TDI is a new addition to the A8 lineup, but other revisions to the 2014 Audi A8 are mostly cosmetic. Short-wheelbase A8 models receive power door closers and a power trunk, proximity-key entry and ignition, front and rear parking sensors, and a rearview camera. Audi’s blind-spot detection system is now standard on S8 and W12 models. The face-lifted 2015 A8 is expected to debut later in 2014, but its powertrains will remain essentially unchanged.
Audi’s aluminum-bodied flagship sedan first arrived in North America in 1997, but the present third-generation car, which launched in 2011, is a far cry from that original luxury sedan. The latest A8 introduced a number of new technologies that have since spread throughout Audi’s portfolio, including in-car wireless networking, Google Earth navigation maps, a touch pad for inputting data into the infotainment system, LED head- and taillights, and a Bang & Olufsen premium audio system. A long-wheelbase model soon followed, as did an even more upscale variant fitted with a twelve-cylinder engine.
The 2014 Audi A8 may not have as lengthy of a legacy as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class or the BMW 7 Series, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less luxurious or desirable. In recent years, Audi has carved a niche for its flagship, blessing it with advanced technologies and opulent cabins and covering it all in a handsome wrapper. Audi’s fancy matrix LED headlamps aren’t yet legal in North America, but a number of innovative features — including in-car Wi-Fi, Google Maps displays, and an innovative touch pad for the infotainment system — have been A8 hallmarks since the car’s reintroduction.
The two latest additions to the 2014 Audi A8 portfolio both deliver impressive performance, but in vastly different manners. The 2014 S8, powered by a retuned version of the 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 found in the 2014 A8 4.0T, packs a 520-hp punch. And, thanks to an incredibly quick dual-clutch automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive, it’s incredibly quick off the line — 0 to 60 mph, for example, takes only 3.5 seconds. It’s a more engaging car to drive than, for instance, the outgoing Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG — as it should be, given that the S8 is shorter and lighter. The all-new 2014 S63 AMG, which now boasts all-wheel drive, may prove to be a more formidable rival, but we’ve not yet had the chance to pit both cars head-to-head. Expect the Germanic luxo-muscle battle to carry on in the years to come.
On the flip side, Audi added a fuel-efficient diesel engine to the 2014 Audi A8 lineup. The 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V-6 comes with the A8L TDI and is nearly identical to those offered in A6, A7, Q5, and Q7 models. Here, it provides 240 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. More important, it also returns virtually no diesel clatter, performance on par with the base supercharged V-6, and an EPA rating of 24/36 mpg city/highway. Fuel costs may not be that much of a concern for buyers of $80,000-plus luxury sedans, but since the TDI has an estimated range of more than 700 miles per tank, owners might appreciate the ability to revel in the A8’s splendor virtually uninterrupted.
- High-tech, stylish interiors
- TDI: best long-distance luxury tourer besides a Pullman car
- S8: incredibly quick and agile
You won’t like:
- W12’s extravagant price
- Smallish trunk
- BMW 7 Series
- Jaguar XJ
- Lexus LS
- Mercedes-Benz S-Class