March 5, 2001
Audi A8 6.0 L quattro The A8 L 6.0 quattro, the flagship of Audi's fleet, is a vehicle packed with superlatives. This luxury saloon is powered by an aluminium twelve-cylinder engine with a capacity of six litres, which develops 309 kW (420 bhp). This engine thus qualifies as the largest capacity and most powerful production twelve-cylinder engine ever to be found in a saloon car worldwide. And it also sets standards in terms of torque: the new Audi engine produces 550 Nm - this also surpasses any other production saloon in the exclusive twelve-cylinder league. The A8 6.0 L quattro requires just 5.8 seconds to sprint from 0 to 100 km/h; the most powerful German twelve-cylinder car of the modern age reaches its electronically governed top speed of 250 km/h after scarcely 38 seconds. The most impressive thing about it of course is just how spontaneously the 6-litre engine translates every command issued at the throttle into acceleration, and just how smoothly it revs up to the rated speed of 6000 rpm. At the same time more than 90 percent of the engine's peak torque is available at just 2500 rpm; the ideal basis for supreme pulling power in every velocity range. The torque characteristic of this large-capacity naturally aspirated engine is without comparison. The five-speed tiptronic makes sure that exactly the right amount of power is always available. Audi is currently the only manufacturer to use a twelve-cylinder engine in the form of a "W" in series production. This design principle has one inestimable advantage: despite the larger number of cylinder units, despite a clearly higher displacement, the W12 is as compact as the Audi 4.2 V8 and thus has much smaller dimensions than a conventional V12 engine. This engine can only be combined with quattro four-wheel drive thanks to its unusually short length of 513 millimetres together with a width of 690 millimetres. All other twelve-cylinder engines installed at the front of the car can only drive the rear wheels - in this case there is not enough space under the bonnet for additional front-wheel drive components. Another advantage of this compact design - together with the choice of the light metals aluminium and magnesium - is the very low weight of the Audi twelve-cylinder engine. And this in turn helps to produce an unbeatably low total vehicle weight of 1980 kilograms, lighter than any of its competitors. One horsepower on the Audi A8 L 6.0 quattro has to accelerate just 4.7 kilograms - a figure which can compete with a high-performance sports car. A glance at the engine's cylinder blocks shows that two ultra-compact V6 units are combined to produce an engine. Each of the two cylinder rows contains six cylinders at an angle of 15 degrees. This offset arrangement makes an ideal synthesis of the very compact width - compared with the classic V6 - and the very short length of a four-cylinder engine. Joining these two units at an angle of 72 degrees to produce a twelve-cylinder engine has a third advantage: the height of the engine is considerably less than that of a "genuine" W12, which means that the silhouette of the front end of the car can be made flatter and more aerodynamic. [1] [2] |