April 3, 2001

Twelve Cylinders for the A8
Text and pictures courtesy of Audi AG

Audi is presenting a vehicle full of superlatives - the new A8 L 6.0 quattro. This luxury saloon is powered by an aluminium twelve-cylinder engine with a displacement 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 surpasses any other production saloon in the exclusive twelve-cylinder league.

The A8 L 6.0 quattro requires less than 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 1800 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 automatic transmission with tiptronic function makes sure that exactly the right amount of power is always available. And it additionally offers the driver the chance to intervene actively in the manual shift gate or - as an option - by pressing the button on the leather-rimmed multifunction steering wheel.

Lightweight construction and agility

A thoroughbred Audi, the A8 L 6.0 quattro has more exclusive qualities to offer than sheer power and performance alone, setting it apart from all competitors. It is the only twelve-cylinder model with the aluminium Audi Space Frame ASF. This pioneering lightweight technology made its debut in 1994, and has since opened up a unique perspective for responsible mobility in the luxury class. The consistent reduction in vehicle weight thanks to ASF improves performance and cuts fuel consumption.

Thanks to the low unsprung masses, the aluminium suspension of the Audi A8 gives it unique dynamic potential. The wheel carriers, front and rear control arms, all brake callipers, the shock absorber mountings and wheels are all made of aluminium. This suspension concept, which is unmatched by the competition, also has a positive effect on comfort. The vibrational behaviour of the axles produces a level of ride and suspension comfort that is without comparison. And the insulation against suspension noise is also exceedingly effective on the Audi A8.

The Audi A8 L 6.0 quattro is the only twelve-cylinder saloon car to have quattro permanent four-wheel drive. This enables it to translate its advantage in terms of power into supreme performance and superior dynamic handling characteristics. There's no doubt about it: the Audi A8 L 6.0 quattro is the sportiest of all luxury saloons. The flagship of the A8 series and of the Audi brand presents itself as befits its status, as a vehicle to which there is no alternative.

Compact power plant

Audi is currently the only manufacturer to use a twelve-cylinder engine in the form of a double "V" or "W" in series production. This design principle has one inestimable advantage: despite the larger number of cylinder units, and despite a clearly higher displacement, the W12 is as compact as a 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.

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