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March 2005
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2005 Audi A8 Quattro AT6

            Audi is rapidly surpassing BMW and Mercedes as Europe's finest carmaker.  While Mercedes has lagged significantly in quality, and BMW suffers with Bangle styling, Audi offers a sleek, muscular, luxurious sedan with few quality issues.  The flagship of the Audi brand, the A8 is offered in three versions, a standard wheelbase model starting at $67,310, a L long wheelbase version starting at $70,620, and the top of the line L W12 with its 12-cylinder engine offered at $118,120.  The standard wheelbase is a favorite among Europeans who demand the better handling capability offered in a shorter length sedan and it is the model we review here. 

            The Audi A8 Quattro offers a powerful 4.2 liter V8 with 5-valves per cylinder, variable valve timing and intake manifold.  It produces 335 horsepower at 6500 rpm and 317 lb-ft of torque at 3500 rpm.  This power along with an aluminum space frame pushes you to sixty in only 6.3 seconds.  Top speed is limited to 130 miles per hour for US market vehicles.  The fuel economy estimates for this car are 18 miles per gallon in the city and 24 miles per gallon on the highway, with our real world tests bringing 21 miles per gallon average.  The all aluminum-alloy space frame does not lower the total curb weight of this sedan, which is still a hefty 4,288 pounds.

Handling and driving feel is excellent, as you would expect from one of the top vehicles in the world.  The A8 feels very light and quick for the large car it is, even in its standard wheelbase adaptation.  The shorter wheelbase still leaves a good amount of legroom in back for passengers and makes it more amusing to zip around in everyday driving.  The A8's transmission starts off in first gear, which causes neck snaps easily each time you start off from a stoplight.  We could not find an easy way to have it start off in second gear unless we did gear changing using the manual side of the shift gate.  The 335 horsepower found in this A8 is plenty to take the car quickly up to triple digits.  This car is made for the Autobahn, and made us call our state governor to remove speed limits on highways.  You feel confident driving with all four wheels firmly planted and providing power.  We loved the quickness of the car from 45 to higher speeds for passing.  The feeling of speed is conveyed to the driver substantially more than in a S500 or in a BMW 740.  This is an exciting and fun vehicle that is truly made for active driving.  Our tester's large 18-inch wheels made for a good amount of road feel, while still being on the sporty, yet comfortable side.  If you are considering a AMG S55, then this car is a great alternative for much less money.  The Quattro four-wheel drive system is quiet and wonderful for daily driving.  The feeling of confidence behind the wheel is enhanced in wintry conditions substantially by the four-wheel drive and the low riding position.  The A8 is stable, firm, and nimble. 

            The transmission is smooth and quiet with gear-shifts hardly noticeable.  In manual mode, shifts take their time when you push up or down on the shift lever, unlike the DSG system found in the TT model.  We would love to see that expanded to all Audi models.  Road noise is very low, engine noise is quite low unless you drive above 5,000 rpms, and wind noise is very low as well even at high speeds.  This is a true world-class vehicle which is difficult to beat. 

            Interior features and amenities are plentiful in this luxo cruiser.  Lets first begin by opening the doors.  Audi lets you keep your ignition key in your pocket and all you do is walk up to the door and touch the door handle and the vehicle unlocks.  There is no need to have a special two piece key, or a flat wallet-like key separate from the real key.  It is all built into the one single key.  Locking the car is just as easy, just touch any of the four black tabs on every door handle and it's done.  Get in and starting the car is as easy as putting a button on the center console.  When you want to park and leave, a electronic parking brake engaged at the touch of a button and a ‘stop' turns off the mighty V8.  A exit feature enables the automatic power steering column to move up as you exit.  These electronic features are just great to have and use in every day conditions. 

            Next we move onto the sumptuous interior done in a combination of black trim and light brown leather seats.  Door panels are covered in matching suede.  The headliner is of a textured fabric which feels very good to the touch, much nicer than the traditional fuzz.  Dark burl wood surrounds you and a flip open screen in the center of the upper dash reveals the navigation computer screen.  Every part of this car feels solid and strong.  Door handles in aluminum, large grab handles on every door, a thick leather wrapped steering wheel, and a solid feeling shift lever all signals your brain to its strength.

The driver's seat is adjustable in many many ways, with a movable shoulder support and extendable thigh support, however side bolsters are not adjustable.  Front seats both feature four memory positions and the switches for this are hidden in a pull out door storage area.  We would prefer to have everything visible for easier daily use.  The last seat position is also stored into the key so as you return to your A8 the seats are set back to where you left them.   Soft suede-like plastic is used where leather is not and this feels much better than the hard plastic we have seen on many US competitors.  Ergonomics are truly German with things in easy reach and perfect for active driving.

            Surrounding the steering wheel are control stalks for the headlights, wipers and cruise control.  The wheel itself offers two dials for volume and stereo station selection.  A mode button changes the information display in the instrument cluster.  We loved the dials used here instead of regular up and down buttons, they are much easier to use while driving.  A voice command button also controls the Onstar functions in our vehicle.  We would like simple interior controls to be voice controlled also in the future. 

Headlights are automatic and turn on or off as you enter darkness and then full sunlight all by themselves.  The low beam is a very bright xenon system and the high beam is particularly nice because it creates a circular beam pattern which spreads out nicely around the field of view ahead.  While more intensity in the center would be good, we were surprised at its large coverage area at night. 

            Our model also featured an adaptive cruise control system which keeps a set distance from vehicles in front of your A8.  The controls for this are all in the familiar position as seen on other Audi vehicles.  The single control stalk also adjusts the distance that you follow other cars.  The system functions from 20 mph to 95 mph.  It is quite smart at deciding how fast to accelerate based on the speed setting that you want to achieve.  The systems lets you adjust how far behind you want to follow another vehicle, based on time, which it then equates into larger and larger distances based on your speed.  The system brakes very late however and is more suited for German roads where drivers pull up very close behind you urging you to move over the second you get a chance.  We were always braking manually before the system automatically braked for us, much like playing a game of chicken with the A8.  The adaptive cruise control feature is great to have, especially in commutes or when driving into the sun during sunset. 

A nicely sized information screen in the center of the instrument cluster shows all vital information, from CD, to trip computer, to navigation, to outside temperature.  Everything is animated and displayed in a very cool fashion.  We have tried to show as many pictures as possible of the many different screen selections.  Nothing compares to the beauty of the system used in this A8.  It is absolutely the best. 

            Moving on to the center console in the A8 you will notice that things are clean but buttons are not taken away and replaced by one dial as in BMW vehicles.  The temperature controls are slanted to face you, and while each button brings up a different colorful display in the main LCD screen, most drivers will just set a temperature and use the auto setting, which can easily be done using the two zone dials right in front of you.  Changing fan speeds, or air vent location as well as the heated seat settings all require you to use the LCD screen which gives beautiful visual graphics for each function.  The system compensates for sun direction as well just as in other luxury makes from Germany.  A cabin filtration system helps keep out unwanted pollutants automatically.  The A8 also features an automatic sun shade in the rear window which pulls up when sun is entering the cabin from the rear.  On the roof console are controls for lighting and the OnStar system.  We especially liked the way the sunroof closes, with a movement that slows as the sunroof is about to fully close to keep air from being sucked out of the cabin.

            Storage space is mostly hidden under the armrests, in the doors, and in the glove box.  This helps keeps items from interfering with your driving experience and we thought it was a great idea.  Some people did complain that storage areas were a bit small and not great for large or long items.  The large rear trunk is cavernously deep, and also features a power operated open and close function.

            The Audi A8 Multi Media Interface is one of the best systems available today.  Its menu screens are very beautiful and its navigation system is one of the fastest and most colorful we have seen.  Menus come up quickly at the touch of a button and overall it is something that every driver should first experience before buying another car.  Radio, CD/TV, Navigation, Telephone, and vehicle settings are all linked to the MMI dial and screen.  The system is quick and easy to use; it is the IPOD of the car world.  The central control dial is textured aluminum and feels excellent to the touch.  Each selection around this button is indicated by a red light bar which looked very futuristic.  Even the door lock buttons use red lighted bars to indicated that they are in-fact locked.  The A8 also features an adaptive air suspension which can be adjusted in three different ways through the MMI system and you can raise the car a bit for driving on rough roads.  There are so many vehicle settings which all worked perfectly in our tests, all controlled through the MMI interface. 

            The Bose stereo system features numerous speakers and offers great sound.  Although it is not as good as the recently released digital surround sound system, it is very very good.  The Audiopilot system also compensates for ambient noise, increasing the volume as more outside noise is heard.

            At night the interior glows wonderfully with red, white and blue colors spread throughout the interior.  It is an amazing display of lighting genius.  Doors have a particularly cool white light which we have attempted to show in pictures to you.  The level of lighting can also be individually adjusted though the MMI system.  Audi has gone beyond expectations in the development of this interior.

            We especially loved the few touches that make this car unique.  From the tire pressure display which also shows temperature at each wheel and shows colors such as green, yellow or red to warn you of serious or OK levels of pressure, to the arm rests up front which individually adjust in height for each passenger.  We loved how the MMI system menus flip to the next menu.  The instrument cluster even offers an animated low washer fluid warning.  The dials on the steering wheel are much easier to use than buttons. All windows and the sunroof can be closed after turning off the car by holding the driver's window button.  Small LED lights in each door handle provide a white UFO like glow around the A8.  An automatic wind deflector is built into the sunroof to minimize wind noise and it increases in size as you open the sunroof more and more.  We could go on and on.

            The only items that we found fault with were the lids for the cup holders up front and ash tray in the rear center console, both of which would open too easily and felt cheap when compared to the materials used throughout the rest of the A8.          

            In back, seats are lower to the ground and so you have a lack of thigh support in your legs.  The low ceiling also makes for a sporty feeling rather than a large luxury car feeling.  Lighting is quite nice with soft glowing lamps above each seat, as well as door lighting.  The pull down center armrest is large and heavy, giving it a bulky feeling.  Both rear seats have individual heat controls as well.  The rear seat passenger can also control the rear window shade by way of a switch on the ceiling console.  We liked the small third window for an airplane like feeling.  Both side windows also have pull up window shades to block out unwanted sunlight. 

      The A8 does have its own niche in the luxury car segment.  The car is not as luxurious as the S class which offers a softer ride, it is more comparable to a S55 than a S500.  The BMW 7 has that magical connection with the road which only Porsche can match.  Both the S and the 7 also are taller inside for a better overall feeling.  The A8 is a sportier luxury cruiser, it offers sleek exterior looks, in a more discreet nameplate.  A wider interior with a taller cabin would put this car in true competition with its rivals but may detract from the sporty feeling you have here.  It is much more oriented to sporty driving pleasure than supreme luxury, perhaps the Phaeton is made for those seeking luxury without gizmo trouble from the VW family of brands.

Watch these movies and short videos on the A8 (Quicktime format)

History of Audi Movie 5mb  Click Here

MMI interface video. Click Here

Adaptive radar cruise control. Click Here

Climate control video. Click Here

 

PRICING INVOICE RETAIL
Base Pricing 62,274 66,590
Destination 720 720
Emission Equipment, California/Northeast 150 150
Convenience Pkg Include Power Rear Sun Shade w/Manual Rear Side Sun Shades, Power Trunk Close & Advanced Key Which Consists of Keyless Entry & Go System. 1,780 2,000
Speed Control, Adaptive 1,869 2,100
Wheels, 9-Spoke Cast Alloy • Base, L
(N/A L W12) Includes (5) P255/45HR18 Tires
1,513 1,700
Cold Weather Pkg II Includes Cold Weather Pkg-PCW & Heated Steering Wheel. 979 1,100

 

 

 
2005 Audi A8
quattro AWD 4dr Sedan (4.2L 8cyl 6A)

2005 BMW 7 Series
745i 4dr Sedan (4.4L 8cyl 6A)

2005 Lexus LS 430
4dr Sedan (4.3L 8cyl 6A)

2005 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
S430 4MATIC AWD 4dr Sedan (4.3L 8cyl 5A)

2005 Volkswagen Phaeton
V8 4dr Sedan (4.2L 8cyl 6A)
MSRP $66,590 $69,900 $56,225 $75,300 $66,950
Invoice $62,274 $63,790 Being Researched $70,029 $61,423
Basic 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi.
Drivetrain 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 6 yr. / 70000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 5 yr. / 60000 mi.
Rust 12 yr. / Unlimited mi. 12 yr. / Unlimited mi. 6 yr. / Unlimited mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 12 yr. / Unlimited mi.
Base Engine Type & Cylinders V8 V8 V8 V8 V8
Base Engine Displacement 4.2 liters 4.4 liters 4.3 liters 4.3 liters 4.2 liters
Valvetrain 40 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
32 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
32 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
24 Valves
single overhead cam (SOHC)
40 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
Horsepower 335 hp @ 6500 rpm 325 hp @ 6100 rpm 290 hp @ 5600 rpm 275 hp @ 5750 rpm 335 hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque 317 ft-lbs. @ 3500 rpm 330 ft-lbs. @ 3600 rpm 320 ft-lbs. @ 3400 rpm 295 ft-lbs. @ 3000 rpm 317 ft-lbs. @ 3500 rpm
Driven Wheels all wheel drive rear wheel drive rear wheel drive all wheel drive all wheel drive
Tires P235/55HR17
all season
P245/50VR18
all season
P225/55HR17D
performance
P225/55HR17
all season
P255/45HR18
all season
Total Seating Capacity 5 5 5 5 5
Driver Seat Power Adjustable 16 10 14 14 12
Air Filtration interior active charcoal air filter interior active charcoal air filter interior active charcoal air filter interior active charcoal air filter interior air filtration
Xenon Headlights Standard Standard Standard Optional Standard
Parking Assist front and rear parking sensors - Optional front and rear parking sensors front and rear parking sensors - Optional front and rear parking sensors - Optional front and rear parking sensors - Optional
Handling A8 7 Series LS 430 S-Class Phaeton
Turning Circle 41 ft. 39.8 ft. 35.8 ft. 40 ft. 39.4 ft.
City 18 mpg. 18 mpg. 18 mpg. 17 mpg. 16 mpg.
Highway 24 mpg. 26 mpg. 25 mpg. 22 mpg. 22 mpg.
Length 198.9 in. 198 in. 197.4 in. 203.1 in. 203.7 in.
Width 74.6 in. 74.9 in. 72 in. 73 in. 74.9 in.
Height 56.9 in. 58.7 in. 58.7 in. 57.2 in. 57.1 in.
Weight 4288 lbs. 4376 lbs. 3990 lbs. 4390 lbs. 5194 lbs.
Wheel Base 115.9 in. 117.7 in. 115.2 in. 121.5 in. 118.1 in.
Interior A8 7 Series LS 430 S-Class Phaeton
Front Headroom 37.3 in. 39.2 in. 38.1 in. 37.6 in. 37.2 in.
Rear Headroom 38 in. 38.5 in. 37.9 in. 38.4 in. 38.1 in.
Front Shoulder Room 59.1 in. 59.3 in. 58.3 in. 59.2 in. 59.6 in.
Rear Shoulder Room 57.5 in. 58.7 in. 58.2 in. 58.3 in. 57.8 in.
Front Leg Room 41.4 in. 41.3 in. 44 in. 41.3 in. 41.7 in.
Rear Leg Room 37.6 in. 37.2 in. 37.6 in. 40.3 in. 43.1 in.
Maximum Luggage Capacity 14.6 cu.ft. 18 cu.ft. 20.2 cu.ft. 15.4 cu.ft. 13 cu.ft.

 

 

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