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ASPEN, Colo. — Audi is clearly a car company with a big future, and that big future is exemplified nowhere better than by its biggest car, the new A8L. The capital L in its title signifies that this is the long-wheelbase, long-rear-door model, a car designed to transform the A8 line from a wannabe to a real European luxury car (that’s because Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Jaguar all offer long-wheelbase versions of their big sedans, and you can’t play in their league without one).
The Audi A8 is already the quickest and fastest of the V-8 luxury cars, with its four-cam, five-valve-per-cylinder 4.2-liter V-8 thundering to the tune of 310 horsepower, well above anything else in the 4.0-liter luxury class. When you add in the famous quattro all-wheel-drive system and an electronic stability program, and then you add in the five inches of extra rear seat legroom and door length, you are cooking up a recipe for success in the big leagues.
With its all-aluminum welded body and subframe construction, all-wheel-drive system and its beginnings as a front-drive platform, the Audi is as different from the other luxury players as chalk is from cheese. But in terms of its performance, handling, spaciousness, luxury touches and build quality, the A8L is as good as any of the rest of them and better in many areas.
It is, according to Audi, the quickest and fastest of the big cars, capable of 0-60 mph times in the 6.8-second range. At 4156 pounds, it is also the lightest car in the segment, which is a huge handling plus. With an EPA rating of 104 cubic feet, and an 18-cubic-foot trunk, it has more interior space than the BMW, Jaguar and Mercedes sedans.