Writer: Chad Taylor
The Audi A8 is one of the sneaky-best cars you will ever drive. Everything about the auto carries a level of understated class about it.
The outer styling is certainly great to look at, but there is nothing about the A8 that screams, “Hey! Look at me!” Inside, the car is one of the more comfortable rides you will slip into this year, but the overriding theme is one of function over form. There is no wasted space, and everything is placed for maximum efficiency. At the end of the day, the A8 is a luxury sedan for people who want a car that feels great and performs better, without all the grandstanding of a Tesla or European supercar.
Little has changed about the A8 for 2016, with the vehicle being practically indistinguishable from its 2015 brethren. The 2016 A8 comes in two models that differ mainly by what they do once you push the gas pedal. The car comes with either a 3.0-liter turbo V-6, or a 4.0-liter V-8, either of which gives you plenty of horsepower to hit the straightaways with. The high-performance S8 model, however, kicks things up a notch with a 4.0-liter V-8 that ups the ante to 520 horses. Ultimately it is up to you to decide whether you need the extra kaboom in your life, but keep in mind the premium you will pay to get there ($114,000 for the S8, compared with $81,500 for the A8).
Even though the A8 will not provide the top-end oomph of its S8 cousin, it still gives you plenty to love, as the V-8 engine’s 435 horses will get you from 0 to 60 mph in about 4.8 seconds. Much like the vehicle’s styling, stepping on the A8’s gas pedal is an exercise in quiet ability. There is nothing showy about the car’s performance: There are no enhanced engine pops and gurgles, no attention-grabbing exhaust to let people know you are getting ready to run. Instead, the car just responds, accelerating as it should.
Behind the wheel, the A8 will whip down a straightaway, if you let it. Cornering is quick enough, though relatively unspectacular. The car never feels like it is running away from you, nor is it the most nimble through a turn. The adjustable suspension provides several profiles to choose from, but none seems to affect the handling too drastically.
If you want people to know how much you are spending on your whip, you are going to have to look elsewhere, son. Audi is a name that car lovers know and love, but the A8 is not a car that is going to turn heads as it cruises downtown. No, this is a silent assassin that is best driven by people with more self-confidence than that. If you need a car to bolster your personality and shout it from the rooftops, go talk to Dodge. But if you know who you are, love to drive, and want a ride that does all the little things better than just about anything else, the A8 is ready and waiting.
Freelance writer Chad Taylor covers autos, music and other topics for dsm. He also writes for Cityview and appears regularly on KFMG as well as KCWI’s “Great Day” morning show, where he talks about music, movies and pop culture.
Engine options: 3.0L turbo V-6, 3.0L V-6 diesel, 4.0L turbo V-8
Horsepower: 240 (V-6 diesel), 333 (V-6), 435 (V-8)
0-60: 4.5 – 4.9 seconds
MPG: 24/36 (diesel), 19/29 (V-6), 18/30 (V-8)
Base MSRP: $81,500
Local dealer: Audi of Des Moines