When it comes to luxury, the term refers to the highest
standards of quality, refinement and elegance while being extremely expensive.
So the question is---Is the new face lifted Audi A8L the best in its segment?
Well for starters, compared to its direct competitors, it’s
the most expensive of the lot. Priced at Rs1.14 crore, it ticks the “being really
expensive” box quite well. But does it live up to the price tag?
The styling of the A8L is quite brilliantly conspicuous.
It’s big in size and it looks just like any other Audi. Only someone with a
keen eye can figure out which is which from Audis’ other models, to the A8. But
the A8L just has a little more elegance to it and it doesn’t stand out too much
which is exactly what some buyers would like. The Matrix LED head lamps are
brilliant, when the car senses that another car is approaching, it turns the
beams away from it so that it doesn’t blind the oncoming driver while still
giving a full beam of light. The J shaped Day Time Running lights look gorgeous
as well. At the front you will also notice the big Audi grille with the Audi
logo on it with the tiny Quattro badge. A slim strip of chrome that runs along
the chin at the front of the car adds a feel of slight elegance to the A8L. The
door mirrors are shaped quite nicely with a thin strip of LEDs for indicators
but they don’t provide a good field of view which one will eventually get used
to. The side profile of the car is simple and elegant and gives the car a
really long look. The back of the car is also shaped brilliantly with signature
Audi styling but what is interesting is that the indicators glow pointing
towards the way you indicate which is quite interesting with more chrome strips
at the back, dual exhausts and a black roof. The car stands sleek and low on
10-twin spoke, 18 inch alloy rims with 235/55 Goodyear tyres.
The elegance continues in the interior which is lined with
lush smooth leather evenly stitched perfectly and a wooden panel that runs
along the dash at the front. But the one thing that catches the eye is the gear
selector which is probably designed by a genius. You just want to touch it and
poke it every time you see it and it fits in your hand brilliantly. The A8 also
offers an MMI system which is more advanced than the other models but it does have some tiny
features missing from the A8s that sit higher in the price range. It has four
seats, two screens at the back and one retractable one in the front with quad
zone climate control. What also catches the eye, apart from the cleverly designed
layout of the knobs, buttons and dials, is the Bang & Olufsen Stereo
system, as the tweeters rise out from the top of the dash which gives the car
quite a few bragging rights. One can also fiddle with the settings and
concentrate the balance of volume in the cabin to a specific place or seat.
With lots of storage in and around the cabin, and sunglass holders in the four
doors, the A8 also comes with a refrigerator in the middle of the back seat.
Charging points are cleverly laid out even in the rear, near the legs in the
centre at the back, which can pop out from both sides when desired. The seat
massagers though are not something one should brag about as they don’t really
do much apart from faintly tickling your back even at the highest intensity. The
four electronically adjustable seats make the cabin a wonderland to spend time
in as you can either use the DVD player to watch movies, with dedicated Audi
head phones, on the screens for the rear passengers, or stare up at the sky
through the panoramic sunroof. The heads up display though could offer a bit
more information. But it’s clearly visible to the driver.
Performance-wise somehow, it doesn’t really fare too well.
The problem is, the A8L is extremely long and heavy. The 3.0L TDI engine feels
so refined and power delivery is instant, which it would be with 550Nm of
torque. The power is where it just feels sluggish, it just seems like an
asthmatic, it gives all it’s got at the beginning, but when it gets to high
RPMs it starts wheezing. It just can’t get to the finish line. The savage power
at the beginning is enough to keep you happy. What I’m not happy about is the
automatic gearbox. I love it, but it’s sort of bittersweet. You just don’t get
100pc manual control of it. Just at the red line, it shifts on its own. Even in
manual sports mode, just when you think “I am gonna wait until the last moment
to shift” and it shifts on its own, then a millisecond later, you click the
paddle and you double shift up, so you have to down shift again to bring the RPMs
up and you lose out. At high speeds, there is a tiny bit of body roll in
comfort mode, but in dynamic mode it’s stiff but still quite comfortable. The
steering is light and brilliant, but I personally would like a little more
feedback. The Quattro drive is brilliant. It’s just finds insane amount of grip
from somewhere and sticks to the ground, but then it would since it weight is
just a bit more than the moon, yet the traction control does give a little bit
of slip to slide the back out just, to give out a loud tyre squeal. Turning off
the traction control would probably let it slip and slide more. You can change
the setup of the car from ride, steering and performance between Comfort and
Dynamic or Auto, but in all of them, the A8L struggles to cope with the bumps.
But lowering the ride height does soften the blows a bit.
So does it have the highest standards of quality? Yes, the
cabin and the panels all feel expensive and of German grade quality. Is it
refined? There is a fair bit of cabin noise, the ride is a bit bumpy, and the
engine could use a bit more power. But what it does best is be elegant. It just
looks perfect for a long expensive saloon and yet is discreet about it. Other
cars in the segment are either too loud and blingy, or just too plain and
boring. Which is like a delicious vanilla ice-cream, its plain and white, but
you will never get enough of licking it!
AUDI A8L 3.0TDI QUATTRO SPECIFICATIONS
3.0L V6 TDI Turbo Diesel
8-speed Tiptronic Automatic with paddleshift
Adaptive electro Hydraulic-Air Suspension
235/55 R 18
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