Vorsprung durch Technik as Audi says. Sheer class, we say. The Audi A8 is a pleasure to be savoured, finds Kate Ginn
I like to put my review cars through something I call the “garage test”. Taking the vehicle to fill up for petrol or just parking in the forecourt has, in my experience, been a good gauge of kerb appeal.So I was looking forward to seeing what reaction my Audi A8 would inspire when I stopped in Qurum on the way back from lunch with a friend. Leaving it parked outside the garage shop, I watched from inside as it came under scrutiny from passers-by (mostly men). I wasn’t disappointed. Most of them checked it out and were clearly impressed, judging by their lingering glances of admiration. If only I could inspire such a rapturous reaction. Alas, it was my slinky, gorgeously built Audi that was getting all the attention. And deservedly so, to be honest. The long-wheelbase A8 is a very handsome car, indeed. The bodyline flows seamlessly, like it’s been carved out of one piece of metal and forged in an Audi factory somewhere.
It’s a big car that makes an immediate impression in an understated way. This car is not interested in ostentatiousness, neither does it demand attention in a screaming “look at me” kind of way; it’s far subtler than that.
Inside, the downplayed glamour continues, with a spacious and luxuriant interior. It smells expensive, which, of course, it is. The tan leather upholstery is beautifully soft to the touch and contrasted nicely with the bodywork colour, while the buttery suede insets in the doors are similarly exquisite.
Being tall, I appreciate room and there was plenty of it in the A8, accentuated by the panoramic two-section glass sunroof, which allows light to flood in and warm those gorgeous leather seats. The front roof can also be fully opened to feel the sun on your face.
Punch the on/off engine start and a screen silently pops out of the dashboard. The Multi-Media Interface (MMI) has an eight-inch high-resolution colour screen that gives you access to everything from music to telephone connectivity and the navigation system. It’s ridiculously easy to use as well, controlled by the turn of a button.
No complaints with the stereo (an upgrade to a premium Bang & Olufsen is extra) and the A8L comes loaded with lots of goodies as standard, such as the parking camera, aforementioned sunroof and park assist for easy parallel parking (it does the hard work for you when you’re trying to manoeuvre in and out of a
parking space). I also really liked the heads-up display, which projects key information such as speed onto the windscreen at eye level so there’s no need to take your eyes off the road.
For safety, there’s also warning lights to indicate when a car is too close behind (take note tailgaters of Muscat!) or at the side for the habitual lane drifters. My friend driving behind me (at a safe distance) also pointed out the very snazzy indicator signal on my A8, a series of lights that illuminate in sequence a bit like the Knight Rider car (Google it if you’re too young). It looks seriously cool.
If you like high-tech gadgetry, the in-car Wi-Fi, which turns the A8 into a hotspot, will be a big plus.
The drive is assured and confident, as you would expect. This car is clearly pitched at the executive, high-end management market, so I knew it wouldn’t be an in-your-face boy racer. The engine goes when you put your foot down, but it purrs gently rather than growls. It’s no slouch, though, and can hit 100kph in 5.9 seconds.
Thanks to Audi’s quattro system, the permanent all-wheel drive ensures power is distributed to each individual wheel according to the situation and conditions, giving extra traction when needed. It makes for a dynamic performance and silky feel.
Audi’s biggest competitors in this segment are the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. I’ve driven all three and would be hard pressed to pick between them. “Vorsprung durch Technik” roughly translates to “Advancement [progress] through technology”, which I think sums up the Audi A8L nicely.
“Poise and power.”
“Understated power and elegance.”
Audi A8L TFSI Quattro
Engine: 3.0L V6 fuel injection
Transmission: 8-speed automatic Tiptronic
Acceleration 0-100kph in 5.9 seconds
Top Speed: 250kph
Price: From RO34,150
Parking system front and rear cameras
3D map navigation system
18” cast aluminium wheels in 10-spoke V design
Leather steering wheel