By Kris Hansen
Photos by: Author and Kyle Hansen
As a polar opposite to our A8L W12 road test, we present the, dare we say, “basic” A8L that we referred to in that piece. This is about as modestly equipped A8L that you can buy. It didn’t have the 20 way adjustable cooled and massaging seats. It didn’t have the rear seat entertainment. It actually had the rear HVAC delete, which renders the car a 3 zone system (oh the horrors) but reduces the price by $500. We lamented the cloth headliner (the W12 had the Alcantara headliner) and “standard” color leather (the W12 had an Audi Exclusive interior). In direct comparison to the silky smooth yet utterly quiet madness that is the 6 liter W12 engine, the powerful and lovely 3.0TFSI engine seemed relatively brash and underpowered, which is not at all fair, because the 3.0TFSI engine is actually quite nice in the A8L.
Yet, somehow this version was no less enjoyable to drive, and we dare say it was more enjoyable in some respects. Sure, our back seat test passengers were bummed out that they couldn’t watch their favorite princess or fairy movies on the way to school, but otherwise, at less than HALF the price of the W12 (no exaggeration), this version is in no way half the car.
Because it didn’t have that monstrous (yet lovely) lump of engine under the hood, or a fridge in the trunk, or all of the heavy back seat stuff, this A8L felt much more athletic. Thanks to the steel coil springs (vs. the air springs in the W12) as well, this car was decidedly more sporty feeling. Without question this variant was much more frugal with fuel consumption as well, thanks to half the engine displacement (but not half the power, thanks to the supercharger). We were averaging in the mid to high 20s with the 3.0TFSI car, where we were in the mid teens with the W12 car. Then again, someone who buys a $175,000 car might not care about consumption numbers as much as someone who might opt for an A3 TDI, for example.
Indeed, as executive transportation with relatively few frills, but all of the comfort and safety items which make the A8L what it is, this version of the A8L proved to be superb. Even though the back seat was unencumbered with extra technology, it’s still a superbly comfortable place to sit, with power sunshades, and massive leg room for 3 people. We’d add at this point that the W12 was 2 (astonishingly comfortable) seats only.
Even though it sounds like we’re complaining about this car, not so at all. From the driver’s seat, all of the things that made the W12 so phenomenally good to drive are present, minus only the silky smooth 500hp W12 engine. Instead, the 333hp supercharged V6 is called to duty, and it handles the task of propelling this large car marvelously. Passing slower cars, merging on the highway, and even spirited driving are absolutely joyous in this car. We found the 3.0TFSI to be very quiet and smooth, only becoming slightly intrusive at full throttle. Compared to the W12 or even the V8, the 3.0TFSI is a bit busy sounding, but it certainly isn’t obnoxious.
The MMI system is the same in both cars (though the W12 had a wholly secondary MMI system for the back seats). The new system with Audi Connect is incredibly useful, even if it may seem redundant to people who love their smart phones. To us, having the ability to use the car’s built in systems to call up on-line destinations for example, and then seamlessly enter them as a destination in the NAV system is worth the possible overlap. Having the wifi hotspot available is that much more beneficial for business and family use as well, again, seamlessly integrated into the car. The MMI system also can play audio via Bluetooth, which means, you can use an ipad (for example) to not only stream online content, but then play it back through the car’s audio system. This alone almost makes up for the absence of the back seat entertainment system in many cases.
All things considered, any A8L is an amazingly good car for supremely comfortable, safe and rapid transport. This 3.0TFSI version happens to be a relative bargain as well!
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