Travel in lap of luxury with Audi’s A8

Updated Audi A8 sees efficiency improvements to the engines, eye-opening new technology and even mor

Updated Audi A8 sees efficiency improvements to the engines, eye-opening new technology and even more prestige and comfort. - Credit: kati ebner

Competition is stiff in the luxury saloon market, but Audi is looking to set the pace with its revised A8, says Matt Kimberley of the Press Association.

The Audi A8 is one of the three main pillars of the large luxury car market, and you don't get to that level without deserving it.

This is the updated version of a car that's been in service since 2010, with efficiency improvements to the engines, eye-opening new technology and a little more of what makes the A8 a customer favourite.

The range takes roughly the same shape, with standard and long-wheelbase chassis options linked to diesel, petrol and petrol-electric hybrid drivetrains. Only the hybrid lacks quattro four-wheel drive and every model gets the magnificent ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard.

But which engine to choose? Now that's a pickle. The hybrid uses the 2.0-litre TFSI turbo petrol engine while the 4.0-litre V8 petrol goes into the spookily quiet 4.0 TFSI and, in combination with a thunderous exhaust, the 513bhp S8. Both are superb in their own ways but the former is the more understated.

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You could also try the 4.2-litre V8 TDI diesel. One squeeze of the accelerator is all it takes to see its epic acceleration, and it's also as quiet as a sleeping church mouse. But we are driving the 3.0 TDI – likely to be the most popular engine.

It's not the quietest or most muscular engine in the range but it is the best for fuel economy and CO2 ratings. It still does everything well enough to seem like a flawlessly logical choice.

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The interior materials are straight from the top drawer's top drawer, and there's also a quirky new selection of manufacturing methods. Strawberry leaves, for example, are one of the natural ingredients Audi has used to tan certain leathers. The leather itself is also a new development.

Technology is vital to a car in this segment – more to the point it has to be effective and easy to use. Not a mean feat when it's a car with more internal processing capability than most home computers. Several features stand out, though, like the MatrixBeam LED headlights that automatically detect other cars and dim the LEDs that cast light towards them. The system can create eight separate gaps in its impressive spread to maintain main beam without dazzling anyone.

One of the car's best features is one of its most traditional. It's an incredibly quiet environment – the sounds of wind and tyre roar are perceptible but are so quiet you'd have to be a true miser to complain.

Maybe it's down to the A8's size, but the dynamic ride control on this model seems to have a greater effect than on many of the company's other cars. The incredibly firm dynamic mode is probably best avoided on UK roads, but the comfort setting is perfect for the A8 and efficiency changes gear much earlier than normal to help conserve fuel. The evidently revised calibration works a treat.

All the previous luxury options remain, including an extravagant reclining rear seat that combines with a forward-folding front passenger seat (extra legroom) on to which a footrest is mounted... so you can have a stretch while your chauffeur does his thing.

Many things can go unsaid here, because the A8 is at least as brisk, as stable and as comfortable as it ever has been. It's now cheaper to run, though, and with its cutting-edge materials and technology, it's an option you can't ignore.

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