Audi A8 (2010-2017) Review
It’s a large luxury car, but the Audi A8 is also fun to drive and discreet - thanks to its understated design
Strengths & weaknesses
- Powerful and efficient diesel engines
- Nimble and stable in corners
- High equipment levels
- Design makes the car anonymous
- Bumpy on rough roads
- Noticeable tyre noise
Whether being wafted from stage door to hotel or battling the morning commute, there are few nicer places to be than an A8. The big Audi’s rivals include the BMW 7 Series, Mercedes S-Class and Jaguar XJ but the Audi is more elegant and effortlessly discreet than any of them, which is how some people like their luxury cars. But its very discretion means that it looks very similar to the far cheaper and smaller Audi A4 Saloon.
The heart of the engine range is a powerful and efficient 3.0-litre V6 diesel. It’s more than up to the job, making the 4.2 diesel above it unnecessary. The petrols – a monstrous 6.3-litre W16, and the 4.0-litre V8s in the S8 and S8 Plus – are for performance junkies.
The A8 is four-wheel drive as standard so grip levels are high. There’s an instant response when you turn the steering wheel, and the A8 remains stable, not leading in corners, even at high speeds. This gives it a sense of agility and makes it fun to drive.
It also helps maintain control if you suddenly have to swerve, and allows you to thread your way along narrow roads with confidence.
The downside to this is that the ride is on the firm side, a common Audi weakness. Adjustable suspension is standard but it’s impossible to find a setting that’s as smooth as a Mercedes S-Class. There’s an unpleasant level of tyre noise, too.
The A8’s interior is classic Audi: classy and beautifully made. True, the dashboard bristles with dials, gizmos and buttons. However, there’s a slight sense it’s behind the times. The interior of the much newer BMW 7 Series, especially, makes a lot more impact and is very high tech. The A8’s expensive options list restores a lot of lost ground, however.
As you’d expect, cabin space is not in short supply. The rear cabin is very spacious but if you have especially long legs or really like to spread out, there’s always the long-wheelbase version. The boot will take enough luggage for a long weekend but the rear seats don’t fold so forget carrying long, flat-pack furniture.
It’s a luxury car so even the ‘basic’ SE has LED headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels, electrically adjustable front seats with position memory and a sat-nav. It’s well provided for safety-wise but on the options list is a night vision system that can spot pedestrians or animals in the road.