Here is an engine beyond compare: the twelve-cylinder engine in the form of a double "V" or "W" for the Audi A8 6.0 quattro is quite unparalleled by any other modern-day unit. The "W" design principle has one inestimable advantage: despite the larger number of cylinder units and a clearly higher displacement, the W12 is as compact as a V8 and thus has much smaller dimensions than a conventional V12 engine.
The scope for pairing this engine with quattro four-wheel drive is based entirely on its unusually short length of 513 millimetres and its width of 690 millimetres. 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 use of the light metals aluminium and magnesium - is the very low weight of the twelve-cylinder engine. And this in turn helps to produce an unbeatably low total vehicle weight of 1,960 kilograms, lighter than any of its competitors. One horsepower on the Audi A8 6.0 quattro has to accelerate just 4.35 kilograms - a figure that is on a par with a high-performance sports car.
More power, low consumption
The latest generation of the twelve-cylinder engine has been substantially uprated. Its extra 30 bhp compared with the previous model in the first-generation Audi A8 represent an increase of seven percent in its power output. It can call upon 560 Newton-metres of torque across a broad speed range from 2300 to 5300 rpm. This gain - along with the 20 Nm increase in peak torque to 580 Nm - is the outcome of painstaking improvements to many different areas.
Another outcome of the engine's enhanced efficiency is its fuel consumption of just 14.7 litres of Super Plus petrol per 100 km (overall value).
Inimitable twelve-cylinder sound
It goes without saying that a successful twelve-cylinder engine owes a great deal to its highly typical sound. This means an extremely low-vibration idle-speed quality that is also free from low-frequency components.
Audi's acoustics engineers have in addition composed an extremely sporty, powerful sound pattern, albeit with a touch of refinement, for when this engine is accelerating at full load.
This unmistakable sound design combines the emotional and dynamic component with call for maximum refinement, which ultimately also determines the overall character of the 12-cylinder A8.
Sports transmission ratios
The ratios of the 6-speed tiptronic with Dynamic Shift Program DSP and auxiliary Sport program are in keeping with the sporty character of the A8 6.0 quattro. Thanks to the six-speed concept, the engine's output and torque are always unleashed with such precision that spontaneous sprints are accomplished effortlessly in any speed range.
The shorter final drive ratio compared with the long-wheelbase version clearly benefits this model's dynamism. The A8 6.0 quattro reaches a speed of 200 km/h in 16.9 seconds. The sprint from 80 to 120 km/h that is so often needed for overtaking takes the "short" twelve-cylinder version precisely three seconds, in other words another 0.4 of a second faster than its equally powerful but more comfort-oriented brother.
As an option, it is possible to change gear either using the selector lever in the tiptronic gate or via shift paddles mounted on the steering wheel. The ergonomic advantages of this concept have already been demonstrated on the Le Mans champion model, the Audi R8: drivers can also change gear when cornering, without having to take their hands off the steering wheel.
quattro permanent four-wheel drive continues to lead the way in the luxury segment. It converts the engine's performance with superb efficiency into propulsion and cornering stability, and puts the immense torque of this sporty saloon effortlessly to the road.
The body: lightweight construction and agility
The innovative aluminium body, based on a refined version of the Audi Space Frame ASF, provides the high-strength basis for low weight, a dynamic performance and excellent handling. The number of components on the fully enclosed ASF compared with the first A8 generation has been reduced considerably through the use of large functional castings and extruded sections. Static torsional rigidity has been increased by 60 percent and ensures a substantial improvement in vibrational comfort, safety and dynamic handling potential. The body shell weighs 50 percent less than a steel body: minimum mass combined with maximum stability.
The suspension: more dynamism as the driver wishes
The new Audi A8 6.0 quattro has an aluminium chassis concept that is typical for this car line and has been showered with praise by the trade press: four-link front suspension and self-tracking trapezoidal-link rear suspension.
The standard adaptive air suspension sport system - an overtly sporty air suspension system with continuous damper control - has the right characteristic for every driving situation, reduces body movements with its continuously adjusted damping and thus optimises roadholding and comfort. There are four driving modes, to suit the driver's preference for more comfort or more sportiness in any given situation.
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