Audi’s range-topping 2011 A8 L sedan is often used as a sort of limousine — and, as a result, they’re often relegated to shuttling around people of great wealth or sociopolitical importance. To help lend those passengers a little extra piece of mind, Audi announced today it will be offering an up-armored version of its latest long-wheelbase A8.
The 2011 A8 L offers numerous luxury amenities that are sure to please the world’s elite; however, in standard form the stretched sedan doesn’t offer the added security required by VIPs and dignitaries alike. Audi launched its third-generation A8 last year and insists that a high-security variant was part of the development process from square one. As a result, the car’s factory-installed upgrades are not only superior to aftermarket add-ons, but are seamlessly integrated into the A8’s design, and virtually undetectable by passers-by.
Prior to final assembly, armored A8s are sent to a secretive workshop within Audi’s Neckarsulm plant for the armorment process. Technicians strategically install armored steel, aramide fabrics, ceramic plates, special alloyed aluminum, and multilayer glass to give the sedan its protective armor. Audi says the transformation adds approximately 450 additional hours to the manufacturing process, and roughly 1587 pounds to the car, bringing its weight to a 6118 pounds. As a result, modifications to the A8’s steering rack, suspension, body structure, and brakes were made to help accomodate the extra heft.
Following the transformation, the armored A8 L is able to withstand heavy fire from NATO hard-core ammunition as well as an attack from a hand grenade, among other weapons. Synthetic rims on the wheels allow the car to travel at speeds up to 50 mph after a tire’s integrity has been compromised. Other options include a fire suppressant system, an emergency exit system (which physically detaches doors from the body of the car), an an emergency air supply system. Door closing assists are provided to help swing the 200-pound doors, and a two-way communication system is standard. Window glass is typically fixed, but buyers who desire to wave to the hoi polloi can opt for power rear windows.
The A8 L Security model will be offered to U.S. customers this summer, and Audi plans on offering a defensive driving course to interested customers. Pricing has yet to be announced, but can one really put a price on bullet-resistant safety?