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2011 Audi A8 Review & Test Drive

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I drove the 2010 Audi A8 last year and really enjoyed the experience and excitement of being behind the wheel of a high-performing, all-wheel drive, full-size luxury sedan.

This year my expectations and excitement reach a new higher level with the introduction of the all-new 2011 A8.  This fabulous automobile is the third generation of the A8 model and is also built on Audi’s proven combination of an ASF (aluminum space frame), MMI (multi media interface), with a stately interior showing the highest levels of craftsmanship and materials, a Quattro all-wheel drive system with a full independent adaptive air suspension system-innovations matched only by the optimized 4.2 liter direct injected V8 engine and all-new eight-speed automatic/tiptronic sequential transmission.

The significantly updated A8 drivetrain delivers increased horsepower, torque, fuel economy and performance over the previous generation, underlining the Audi goal of delivering the enthusiast driver the ultimate in luxury, driving dynamics and efficiency.

Audi delivers a new brand icon in the all-new A8.  Foremost in the design process was creating a visage of sporty progressiveness that opens new territory while remaining grounded in a clear and logical progression of the A8.  In comparison to its predecessor, increasingly muscular wheel arches speak to the enthusiast driver, while further refinement of running lines from the sideview flow to a subtly arched trunk, lend the all-new A8 an air of elegance while also enhancing downforce.

Up front is an all-new fascia highlighted with a massive grille fully wrapped in chrome and featuring eight chrome horizontal slats inside that look like no other front grille in the industry.  Another technological innovation shines brilliantly via an industry-first, full-LED front headlamps with both high and low beam function.  Full LED lighting extends through the daytime running lights, foglamps, cornering lights, turn signals, and taillights, allowing a design and shape impossible with Xenon bulbs.  Below the front grille are side wings for front brake cooling and each wing features two chrome horizontal slates.  You’ll also see from the side the steeply raked A-pillars, a wide chrome strip surrounding the windows and a solid chrome strip down below starting at the front through the rear door.  Deep lower side extensions give the A8 a lower center of gravity enhancing high-speed stability.  The side view also reveals aero-shaped power-remote/heated/folding/self-dimming sideview mirrors and low-profile pull-out door handles.  Beside the full LED rear lamp clusters, is a bold rear bumper with a full perimeter wide chrome strip down below with new, wider round chrome dual exhaust pipes adding to the high-performance and luxury nature of the all-new A8.  This all-new version of the flagship A8 is stunning from any angle, and wets the appetite to take it for a ride.

The all-new A8 builds upon Audi’s leadership in aluminum design and manufacturing via its latest generation ASF.  This latest iteration features 25% more static torsional rigidity, while new welding technologies contribute to reduced weight, producing great fuel efficiency, benchmark-levels of passive safety, and improved handling capability.  The ASF now weighs some 40% less that a comparable steel structure.  Through such innovation, the 2011 A8 gains no weight over the previous A8, despite the new model’s growth of 3-inches in length, and 2-inches in width.

Open the doors and gaze at an interior cabin that exhibits the finest in materials, design, comfort and luxury.  Exemplifying a constant drive for perfection, Audi designers and engineers took full advantage of the opportunity to make the perfect luxury-performance sedan.  Fine materials paired with optimized solutions create driver and passenger experiences unrivaled by the competition from Mercedes or BMW.  Key to this theme is the 2011 A8’s ‘Koenigsfuge’, or ‘King’s Joint’, the juncture between door and dashboard.  At this point, no less than four different materials and design lines intersect, melding deep wood inlays, aluminum accents, chrome, hand cut and sewn leather dashboard covering, and high-grade plastics surrounded by aluminum trim, in a hallmark of ingenuity.  Audi designers were free to draft the A8’s environmental lines with a focus purely on creating a flow around the driver and passengers.

Such ‘skyliner’ elements develop an ambiance of spaciousness, comfort, and luxury within the cabin.  Roominess is accented by driver-selectable LED lighting themes including ivory, polar, and ruby modes, creating a connection between driver and passengers and an overall feeling of lightness within the interior surrounding the floating center console.

My A8 was equipped with the Premium Package that bumped the standard interior equipment up to ultra-comfort and convenience levels not seen in any of the competition. Standard interior features include all-express power windows/door locks, Audi MMI Navigation Plus system with MMI (multi-media interface) touch, including a retractable color screen, Bose Surround Sound HD radio/CD, Audi’s music interface with iPod integration and SIRIUS satellite radio, 18-way power/heated/leather front seats including 4-way lumbar & memory function for 2-drivers, automatic dual climate control with filtration, power glass sunroof, power rear window shade, garage door opener, grab handles above each door, dual LED map lights, dual LED vanity mirrors, self-dimming rearview mirror, push button start/stop, storage slots in each door, individual leather topped center console with dual cupholders and a deep storage bin with air-ducts behind the center console, a rear seat pull-down center armrest with dual cupholders and storage and pass-thru, lighted aluminum door kick panels, rain-sensing wipers/washers with headlamp washers, radar-sensing adaptive cruise control, thick cut-pile carpeting and floor mats.

The Premium Package includes incredible 22-way heated/ventilation/massaging front seats, wood decorative inlays behind the front seatbacks, the full LED headlamps, and giant 20X9in. aluminum alloy wheels wrapped with Pirelli 265/40R20in. P Zero high-performance tires.  The Convenience Package includes keyless entry, power trunk opener/closer, and Audi’s parking system with a reaview camera.  My Audi A8 also came with dual-pane acoustic and security glass that made the interior even quieter to enjoy passenger conversation and truly enjoy the optional Bang & Olufsen Advance Sound System with 19-speakers strategically placed around the cabin.  This world-class sound system is the best I have ever experienced in a luxury automobile.  The interior of the new A8 is magnificent-comfortable and ergonomic with all of the latest high-tech features that you would expect from a ‘top-tier’ full-size ultra-luxury sedan.  I am impressed again with the Audi brand.

Pushing it up another notch and really enjoying the drive behind the wheel is the power, performance and multi-personalities that you can choose when you fire up the mighty V8 engine.  You are the center of power and control and the power tilting/telescoping, sport 3-spoke steering wheel feels great in your hands with access to innumerable options at your fingertips.  Audi drive select now arrives as standard equipment, presenting you with options that span both sport and comfort.  You can dial in how you want the A8 to react to your inputs and how you want the incredible air-spring suspension to react to the road through Dynamic, Comfort, Auto or Individual settings.  The shift-by-wire L-shaped gearshift lever is inspired by the throttles found on board yachts and serves as an ergonomic hand rest for operating the MMI touch interface.  Because such considerations mean nothing if they intrude on the overall theme of elegance that the A8 embodies, all interior elements-such as the foldaway MMI screen-were designed to occupy as little space as possible.

Like the rest of the all-new 2011 A8, the new model’s 4.2 FSI V8 powerplant returns with significant improvements in both performance and comfort.  Refinements include an increase to 372hp up from the previous 350hp, and a complimentary growth of torque to 328lb.ft.  Audi’s valvelift system complements the revised engine, and FSI direct fuel injection cements Audi as the only car company in the U.S. that sells 100% of its gasoline engines with direct injection.  The new found power and torque is enough to blast the 4,400+ pound A8 to 60mph from a standstill in just 5.7-seconds.

For the first time in Audi history, power is channeled via an 8-speed automatic transmission, resulting in 17% better fuel economy compared to the previous model. Controlled via the center gearshift lever or standard steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, the new transmission powers a new Quattro rear-biased all-wheel-drive system, splitting torque 40:60 front:rear.  The A8 stands as the only car in the luxury performance segment with AWD as standard equipment, and the rear-bias put power to the road where performance-minded drivers demand it.  An optional Sports differential offers variable torque distribution on the rear axle, dramatically reducing understeer and increasing driving agility and traction when cornering, passing slower moving vehicles or when driving on slick pavement.  It is a sheer joy to be able to choose four driving modes, whatever mood you are in, and in any type of driving situation or location, the A8 has a mode for you.  This is made possible by the fully independent air suspension that features adaptive air dampers, air springs and unique links and bushings to smooth out the bumps on poorly paved roads, or slice through and out of steep curving roads with no problems.

The Servotronic vehicle speed-sensitive rack & pinion steering system is a perfect match for the unique suspension.  It gives me a great feel for the road and quick reaction to my steering inputs in comfort, standard or individual modes.  When I was driving in dynamic mode the wheel felt more weighed to the road surface and the reaction was even quicker, matched only by the speed of the shifting as I upshifted or downshifted the paddles when cornering hard.  Steering response and precision is further enhanced with the two strut bars in the engine bay increasing rigidity up front.

To keep you on your chosen path of travel the A8 comes with Electronic Stabilization Control and Traction Control but you can shut the system down to lay down some smoke or let the rear hang out a bit when cornering hard at speed.

Quickly and safely slowing the new A8 down from speed are massive steel disc brakes at each corner.  Up front are 15in. vented discs clamped with four-piston calipers and 13.8in. vented discs in the rear clamped with single-piston calipers.  Standard ABS, EBD, BA.  The brake pedal feel is very linear and always slowed the car when I needed to reduce speed quickly.

Standard safety features abound in the all-new A8 and include driver and front passenger airbags with SIDEGUARD curtain airbags front and rear, front knee airbags, front and rear 3-point safety belts with pretensioning for each and front belts with force limiters, LATCH anchors for child seats, anti-theft alarm, tire pressure monitoring and Audi’s super strong ASF design with front/rear crumple zones and steel beam in each door.

High-technology also plays a new and expanded role in the 2011 A8 through Audi Pre-Sense and adaptive cruise control.  Pre-Sense comprises several occupant protection systems that are activated if a critical driving situation arises.  If instability is detected, reversible belt tensioners hold passengers in place while seats adjust to optimal placement.  The sunroof and side windows close to shield the passenger compartment.  Adaptive air shocks absorbers adjust to improve braking and performance, and two-stage partial braking activates.  Adaptive cruise control seeks to prevent such situations entirely.  With a convenient stop & go function, Audi lane assist and Audi side assist, systems once again are coordinated to protect you and your passengers by letting you know if a vehicle is in your blind sport and if you are drifting out of your lane.

A new generation of ESP with electronic AWD torque vectoring is integrated with dynamic steering and the optional Sport differential for maximum collision avoidance capabilities.  When the accelerator is released abruptly, brake discs are cleaned and the brake fluid system is pre-filled to improve brake reaction times.  Audi braking guard warns you of critical situations with an audible warning and a braking jolt.  In the case of unavoidable collisions, emergency braking is executed automatically to minimize impact.

Even pedestrians benefit from Audi’s priority on safety.  Optional equipment in the 2011 A8 includes night vision displayed on the 7-inch driver information display that bridges the main speedometer and tachometer gauges in the instrument cluster.  At night, pedestrian-detection systems highlight otherwise concealed people, and provides a warning if the pedestrian is crossing the path of the A8, giving you ample time for course correction.

The all-new 2011 Audi A8 is an incredible machine that moves people in comfort and safety utilizing the latest in high-performance driving, luxurious amenities, and the highest levels of automotive high-technology without disturbing the true pleasure and excitement of driving a full-size luxury sedan.

Prices start $78,050.00 and my nicely loaded A8 that I tested was stickered at just $93,525.00 including destination charges.





  • $78,050


  • $93,525



  • Rear spoiler

Tires and Wheels

  • Alloy wheels
  • 19 in. wheels
  • Alloy spare wheel
  • 255/40R19 tires
  • All season tires
  • Inside mounted spare tire
  • Fullsize matching spare tire

Roof and Glass

  • Variable intermittent rain sensing wipers
  • Rear defogger
  • Power rear sunshade
  • Manual sunshades for rear side windows
  • Power glass sunroof
  • Remote sunroof operation

Towing and Hauling

  • Cargo tie downs


  • Width: 76.7 in.
  • Height: 57.5 in.
  • Length: 202.2 in.
  • Ground clearance: 4.7 in.
  • Front track: 64.7 in.
  • Rear track: 64.4 in.
  • Wheel base: 117.8 in.
  • Cargo capacity, all seats in place: 13.2 cu.ft.
  • Gross weight: 0.26 in.
  • Curb weight: 4409 lbs.

Exterior Options

  • Power Closing Doors
  • Solar Sunroof
  • Front License Plate Holder
  • Front Grille Filler Panel
  • LED Headlights
  • 20″ 10-Parallel-Spoke Wheels
  • Sport Package
  • Dual Pane Acoustic and Security Glass


Engine & Performance

  • Engine size: 4.2 L
  • Cam type: Double overhead cam (DOHC)
  • Cylinders: V8
  • Valves: 32
  • Valve timing: Variable
  • Direct injection
  • Torque: 328 ft-lbs. @ 3500 rpm
  • Horsepower: 372 hp @ 6800 rpm
  • Turning circle: 41.0 ft.
  • Engine type: gas
  • 0-60mph: 5.7 seconds


  • Drive type: all wheel drive
  • Mechanical center differential
  • Transmission: 8-speed shiftable automatic
  • Center limited slip differential
  • Brake hill holder


  • Multi-link front suspension
  • Multi-link rear suspension
  • Four-wheel independent suspension
  • Front and rear stabilizer bar


  • Fuel type: gas
  • Fuel type: premium unleaded (required)
  • Fuel tank capacity: 23.8 gal.
  • Range in miles (cty/hwy): 404.6/642.6 mi.
  • EPA mileage est. (cty/hwy): 17/27 mpg


Safety & Security

  • 4-wheel ABS
  • Front and rear head airbags
  • Dual front and dual rear side-mounted airbags
  • Child seat anchors
  • Remote anti-theft alarm system
  • Emergency braking assist
  • Front and rear ventilated disc brakes
  • Rear door child safety locks
  • Cornering lights
  • Daytime running lights
  • Engine immobilizer
  • High pressure washers headlamps
  • Auto delay off headlamps
  • Dusk sensing headlamps
  • Xenon high intensity discharge headlamp
  • 2 front headrests
  • 3 rear headrests
  • Passenger airbag occupant sensing deactivation
  • Rear center 3-point belt
  • Front and rear seatbelt pretensioners
  • Turn signal mirrors
  • Stability control
  • Traction control
  • Electronic brakeforce distribution
  • Emergency interior trunk release
  • Front power adjustable headrests
  • Rear height adjustable headrests
  • Post-collision safety system
  • Pre-collision safety system
  • Passenger head restraint whiplash protection system
  • Driver head restraint whiplash protection system
  • Self-leveling headlights
  • Tire pressure monitoring

Safety & Security Options

  • Night Vision Assistant
  • Driver Assistance Package


  • Basic: 4 yr./ 50000 mi.
  • Drivetrain: 4 yr./ 50000 mi.
  • Free Maintenance: 1 yr./ 5000 mi.

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