So, the top A8 is every bit as pleasant to drive as one might expect of a twelve-cylinder, six-figure German luxury sedan. As cliché as it may sound, however, the A8L is a car best enjoyed from the back seat. The A8L W12 comes standard with two reclining buckets instead of a rear bench, with a high-tech center console in place of a fifth seat. From this comfortable throne, we were able to convert the passenger's seatback into an Ottoman, flip on the message and heating functions, and watch television on the front headrest-mounted LCD screen (you haven't properly appreciated "Two and a Half Men" until you've watched it with German dubbing).
Rear passengers can also keep up with their lucrative jobs, as the A8L is a rolling wireless hotspot. Just punch in the password into your laptop or Internet-enabled phone and you're ready to shoot out e-mails and stream video as you fly down the Autobahn. Audi says it is still searching for a wireless partner to provide this service in the United States, and promises it will be available shortly after launch (and will be available on models already sold). And if your chauffeur decides to job search on his iPhone while driving, no matter, as the A8's full complement of driver aids will remind the fool not to hit someone while changing lanes and will engage full braking if he can't be bothered to slow down after repeated warnings that a collision is imminent.
No doubt, this 500-hp sedan is something of a highbrow dinosaur, even within the A8 lineup. In addition to the more sensible 4.2-liter V-8 and fuel-sipping 3.0-liter diesel, the A8 can be had, in Europe, at least, with a bigger diesel or a 3.0-liter gas V-6, which we also drove and found more than sufficient. A hybrid is also on its way. And yet, as an ultimate expression of over-the-top but at the same time understated luxury, the new A8L W12 still does the job quite nicely.