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D3 vs D4 after 2 months in the D4


Old 05-31-2014, 09:33 AM
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Default D3 vs D4 after 2 months in the D4

2011 A8L review (D4 vs. D3)
I have now had the D4 A8L for about 2 months and about 2,000 miles of driving. For comparison purposes my prior car was a 2009 S8 with 45,000 miles and the following options - Black with black interior, B&O stereo, full leather, carbon fiber, black headliner, technology package (adaptive cruise, side assist and lane assist), solar sunroof, 4 zone climate, cold weather package. My current car is a 2011 A8L currently with 18,000 miles and the following options - emerald black metallic, nougat brown interior, B&O stereo system, rear seat comfort package (4 zone HVAC, reclining seats), driver assistance package, premium package, night vision assistant, full LED headlights, cold weather package and dual pane glass.

Exterior - Overall I still prefer the looks of the D3 S8. I like the 20” D3 S8 wheels better, I have the stock 19" wheels on the D4 and they are growing on me as is the overall look of the car. I also like the looks of the L body, a lot different than the S8 but I do like it. Would be nice if the D4 A8L was a bit lower stance, I doubt I will lower it. I like the looks of the LED headlights, especially at night. I am not sure they are any brighter while driving than the HID lights I had on the D3. The cornering lights on the D3 were better than the cornering lights on the D4 with full LED.

Interior - I much prefer the overall looks and layout of the D4 interior. The S8 interior with the full leather, aluminum and carbon fiber is still the best quality interior I have ever seen in a car. Anything that was not aluminum or carbon fiber was high quality leather. Both look really great with the stainless steel B&O speaker grills. The D4 leather does not seem to be as nice as the leather in the D3 S8 (at least with the full leather package). The leather on the dash of the D4 does have stitching but I am still not 100% sure it is not some sort of synthetic leather. The leather on the D3 S8 was much softer throughout the car. That said, I like everything else better in the D4 interior. The D4 has a silver headliner and I much prefer that to the black in the S8, the silver makes the car feel bigger inside. I also really like the combination of the wood and piano black inserts in the D4. I have had the wood and aluminum in a D4 loaner and didn't really like that combo as much. I do like the aluminum with the carbon fiber in the D4 S8. Interior storage is about the same overall. The D3 glove box had more room (my 2011 has the 6 disk changer in there, which I really like by the way). The AC vent in the D4 glove box sounds nice but I have not figured out a purpose for it yet as it is already full of stuff. The cup holders in the D4 are a HUGE improvement. You can actually keep two drinks in them without worrying about them spilling. I couldn't even keep one in the D3 without worrying about a spill. The rear cup holders are also significantly better. They are not adjustable for really large cups like the D3 but what does fit in them is really secure. The D3 rear cup holders were just as bad as the front ones, by adjusting them for larger cups it just meant you would have a bigger spill to clean up. The massage seats in the D4 are EXCELLENT; I use the function all the time. The D3 S8 did not have the cooled seats so that is also really nice in the D4. I like the overhead holder for my sunglasses in the D4, but miss the storage in the two arm rests that the D3 had. I also miss the ash tray in the D3 because I had removed the metal trim from it and used that to store my phone. In the D4 I keep my phone in the indent where you lift up the arm rest, there is really nowhere else to set it down. The interior lighting on the D4 is really cool compared to the D3. The rear seats are not fair to compare as my D3 was a normal wheel base. The D4 L has awesome rear seats. The reclining function is really great, not just for passengers but I leave them reclined and can easily see over the top of the head rests when driving so it really improves visibility. The 4 zone climate is nice for the passengers but also makes the rear arm rest look really nice. Having three 12V outlets in the back seat is also a nice improvement. The power side shades are also a great option over the D3 S8. The rear sunshade also is better as it blocks more sun than the D3 and seems like a better design (only time will tell on that). Both cars had the soft close doors. I really like NOT having the solar sunroof. I could never tell a difference with it and really missed being able to let additional light in the car by opening the shade. The D4 AC works great along with the cooled seats so I can have the car cooled down in a matter of minutes. On a hot day my best estimate was the solar sunroof lowered the interior temperature from about 125 degrees to 123 degrees, neither of which I am comfortable in. The D4 only has 2 vs 4 seat presets but I only use 2 anyway. As everyone has pointed out, the trunk on the D4 is noticeably smaller than the D3. That said, it has not caused me any problems yet. I have had two large suitcases, two sets of golf clubs and two smaller suitcases and various other small bags in there at the same time.

Stereo and MMI - Both cars had the B&O stereo and they sound very close. Some songs seemed to sound better in the D3 and some sound better in the D4, can't quite put my finger on it but they are slightly different. I had a D4 loaner for about 5 days with the Bose system and I noticed a significant difference between the Bose and B&O on all sources I listened to. If buying used I would definitely hold out for a B&O optioned car as it won’t cost you much more, just harder to find. Everything else about the D4 stereo / MMI is significantly better. Bluetooth audio streaming is awesome. It sounds just as good as the cable connection and works perfectly. The audio controls in the DIS (the display in the instrument panel) are a huge improvement as you can select any source directly from the steering wheel. As an example you can go from the iPod input to AM radio just using the DIS, you can't do that with the D3, you had to use the console buttons which would switch the MMI display to whatever source you selected. Voice commands in the D4 are awesome, especially with the Navigation System. I can just say the whole address for a destination and it puts it in the system. It actually works about 90% of the time on the first try. The voice commands also work great with the phone directory. I am using an iPhone 5S with the car. Occasionally I will have to use Siri to call a contact but 90% of the time the MMI voice commands will find the number. The MMI is also nice because it will ask you before dialing the number. If Siri thinks she found the number she just dials it so sometimes you have to quickly find your phone and stop the dialing because Siri selected the wrong person. I also really like the two SD car slots (I don't have the SIM card option with Google but probably wouldn't have paid the monthly fee). I have not had the best of luck importing to the hard drive as all the song info on the SD card shows up fine on the MMI but when I import to the hard drive only about 80% of the songs are imported with all the info, some end up missing either the artist, album info or both. I keep an iPod attached all the time so don't really need the hard drive. I really just wanted songs on the hard drive so I could scroll through album covers, which is really cool. The touchpad is really nice. Touchpad is nice for the presets but really cool with the navigation. I don't use the touchpad to write/input addresses (I use the voice commands) but use it all the time to scroll around on the map to check traffic. Oh yes, TRAFFIC! So nice to now have this option (that my 2005 Acura had), it was a crime that the D3 did not have traffic (for us city folks that deal with traffic! I live in the San Francisco Bay Area). The DIS is better for every function. I can actually mute and un-mute my phone using just the steering wheel buttons! The DIS navigation display is also better. It is really easy to move between functions in the DIS compared to the D3. The one thing that neither has is the ability to skip songs by just pushing a button on the steering wheel. They did get rid of the tire pressure sensors on the D4 which sucks. I liked being able to actually see the pressure of each tire. I believe they are just monitoring wheel rotation now. I rarely use the night vision assist. It looks cool and impresses passengers but I would not order it if buying new.

Driving – The D4 definitely feels bigger than the D3 S8. Probably not a fair comparison as the D4 is also the extended wheel base. The acceleration of the D4 4.2 is not noticeably different than the D3 S8. I also had a D4 normal wheel base loaner car for about 5 days with the 3.0 engine. I liked the acceleration better on the 4.2 D4 versus the 3.0 D4. Both are probably about the same 0-60 but the 4.2 was noticeably smoother accelerating and just driving around. The transmission is much smoother on the D4 than the D3 and I suspect the 8 speeds are why the acceleration on the D4 is so good. The D3 shifter was definitely easier to use but I am getting used to the D4 gear selection. The shifter is really comfortable to rest your hand on while using the MMI controls, but they could have kept the D3 gear selection mechanism and just replaced the handle. Selecting between D and S is easier with the D4. The handling in the D3 S8 was definitely better than both the normal and L wheel base D4 cars. The D4 normal wheel base loaner I had felt more nimble than the L version I have. I would have preferred the 20” wheels on the D4 but am getting used to the 19” wheels and really liking the ride of the car. I have the continental AS factory tires on the car now. I will likely go with the Michelin AS3 tires when I replace the tires; I had those on my D3 S8 and really liked them. The D4 is much smoother and quieter than the D3. Both the D3 and D4 had the dual pane glass. The D4 loaner I had did not have the dual pane glass and was not as quiet but that could have been the tires. But I think the glass also makes a difference based on if I am traveling on the freeway next to a semi-truck I can’t really hear the tires on the truck. The adaptive cruise is so much better on the D4. On the D3 I actually wished many times that I had the regular cruise as I got a lot of “AC Sensor Blocked” warnings and then would have to wait a while to use the cruise control at all. In the D4 I have not had any faults. The D3 ACC also will only apply minimal braking when slowing down whereas the D4 will apply full brakes and also come to a complete stop. The D4 ACC sensor picks up cars a long ways ahead of me and can determine which lanes cars are in going around corners and on busy freeways, the D3 seemed to have a hard time picking up some cars even if directly in front of you. I find the D4 ACC drives pretty close to how I would normally drive and the stop and go is awesome. The lane assist and side assist are about the same with both cars. The car settings are also much improved. Being able to set up shifting, suspension and steering separately is great. Visibility was a bit better in the D3 but the D4 is fine. The rear head rests do block some rearward visibility but if you have reclining seats the head rests are significantly lower when the seats are reclined. I leave them reclined when no one is sitting back there which helps a lot with visibility. Fuel economy is a huge difference. I was coming from the S8 where I could get 19-20 mpg in a best case freeway cruising scenario. I probably averaged about 15-16 mpg combined driving. With the D4 4.2 I can get over 30 mpg at 75 mph cruising on the freeway. (I got 32 mpg with the cruise control set at 75 mph over a 50 mile trip between San Jose and San Francisco on 101 with some stop and go traffic.) I get about 22 mpg combined driving.

VCDS – The process is definitely easier on the D4 than the D3. Most of the menus have drop down boxes with descriptions of what you are doing. I have enabled windows up and down with the remote, needle sweep, changed the coming home headlight delay from 20 to 60 seconds, disabled nav & phone warning message while entering data at speed (this also allowed adjustment of passenger seat in motion), automatic gear selector shown in DIS and double disarm beep (I don’t like this and am going to change it back). I tried the LED wink disable but don’t think that does anything with the full LED headlights, I could not find option to rip CD’s to the hard drive in the hidden menu and could not get a battery meter display. I saw some option in a couple of the menus in to enable the option to change the default ACC distance setting but didn’t mess with it. Pretty sure you could enable the option though.

Overall – I occasionally miss the D3 S8 and it was a great car but I am loving the D4 A8L. For 90% of the driving I do it is a significantly better car for my needs.

The top 4 things I like better on the D4 vs D3 are: THE CUPHOLDERS, the overall MMI system (including the DIS display, Bluetooth streaming and traffic on the NAV system), massaging seats and the improved ACC.

Top 4 things that I liked better on the D3 S8 are: uniqueness of the D3 S8 (I rarely saw another S8 and got comments almost every time I drove it), the V-10 engine, more trunk space and the leather and carbon fiber in the S8 interior.


Last edited by kgd_007; 05-31-2014 at 10:37 AM.
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Old 05-31-2014, 10:16 AM
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Here are a couple of pictures of the new to me D4.

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Old 05-31-2014, 11:28 AM
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I do like the D4's interior compared to the D3, but something about the body (exterior) is lacking on the new model.

The D3 looks like a well-sculpted piece of driving art from a single block of aluminum, while the D4 just looks like a car pieced together with various different shapes/parts (especially up front). The overall design is just not *working* on the current version and the stance doesn't seem to be 'right' like the previous model.

It will be very hard for me to part with my D3
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Old 05-31-2014, 12:20 PM
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Default I do like the D4 despite the look... Thanks for

the write up. The D3 really looks smooth, elegant and prestigeful. The D4 seems to be rugged, coarse and does look very prestigeful, IMO.

Can't wait to get in one.


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Old 05-31-2014, 01:34 PM
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I agree with the things you said that I have had personal experience (A8 not S8) with a loaner.
However, I think the facelift 2014 D4 has taken it to what the D4 should have looked like since inception and has eliminated it's sometimes unflattering design proportion choices.
Beautiful car you have nontheless.
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Old 05-31-2014, 09:57 PM
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Thanks for the comparison. Enjoyed reading it. I envy the LED headlights! Very cool!
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Old 06-01-2014, 03:54 AM
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Very expensive cup holder upgrade. j/k
One of the business partners came in for their annual meeting in a 2013 version of pretty much the same car. Same color and interior options as yours minus the b/o and foglights, as far as I could tell.
Very nice ride btw, you must be enjoying your mpg over the V10.
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Old 06-01-2014, 08:49 AM
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Those are not fog lights on the car, they are the sensors for the Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). The fog lights are built into the head light housing. The D4 uses two sensors on each side of the car for the ACC the D3 uses one sensor under the license plate. This updated ACC is one of my favorite upgrades as I use it for probably 80% of my driving.

Surprisingly the price difference was not very much when you consider going from a car with 45,000 miles on it not covered by any type of warranty to one with 15,000 miles with almost 4 years of a factory warranty. My S8 was pretty much perfect and the A8L was also perfect. The S8 had one door ding, a spot on the rear bumper where the paint was scratched from someone parallel parking behind me somewhere and some curb rash on one wheel. I waxed the A8L the first weekend I had it and could not find any marks on the body at all, it was literally like new. So it was basically like getting a $105k car by trading in my current one plus just less than $10k in cash.

The price difference was really what pushed me over the edge to move to the newer car. So far absolutely no regrets!

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Old 06-01-2014, 08:35 PM
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Nice looking D4 . Sounds like you got most of the options. You had to do what's best for you. Sounds like it didn't cost you as much to upgrade, especially when you get a warranty with it also. It's like a no brainer. Take care of it .

Does the adaptive cruise work well?? Never heard any bad things about it.
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Old 03-26-2016, 06:33 AM
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I just got into a 2013 A8L. Years ago i had a 2007 A8L and can't help but compare.

I agree with most all of this. I never had the B&O, but the D3 Bose sounded better, as i recall, than the D4 - perhaps a better sub in the D3.

There are some minor things i miss - the TPMS in the D3 showed the actual PSI of the spare - useful to keep tabs on. The MMI allowed you to set the default screen for Radio when you hit the button (Preset vs Tuner). The air suspension on the D3 allowed you to raise the car higher ("offroad", while a silly word, really gave it good ground clearance). It also seemed to be constantly leveling the car at stoplights and such, something i haven't noticed in the D4. And that D3 trunk was just huge!

I'm not in love with the overall looks of the D4 exterior - it seems more like a stretched A4 than the D3 version was to its contemporaries. The interior, however, has really improved. The lighting, instrumentation, screen, etc are all better. The seats are way better - the cooling and massage are fantastic now. The D3 seat cooling was barely noticeable.

All that being said, these cars are hands down the best I've ever owned and can't wait to get into a D5 when they are a few years old

As far as the adaptive cruise, its pretty good with a nice little in-dash display. I've had ACC in both a Hyundai Genesis and my current Grand Cherokee, and it compares favorably. I was really very excited about the stop & go, but disappointed it requires you to hit the resume or gas pedal after coming to a stop. I suppose i understand, but still.. i wanted it to Just Work
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