- Surprisingly nimble
- Quite possibly the best front seats in the class
- Tremendous backseat space (L models)
- Design is no longer fresh
- W12 engine guzzles fuel
The 2009 Audi A8 and A8 L are nimble, refined luxury sedans that still stand out from the crowd.
The 2009 Audi A8 is Audi’s large luxury sedan, offering powerful V-8 and 12-cylinder engines; all-wheel drive; and one of the most luxurious, well-designed, and technology-laden interiors of any vehicle. The A8 is offered in two lengths, the standard A8 and extended-length A8 L, which offers expanded backseat legroom, with the top-of-the-line A8 L W12 residing as Audi’s flagship sedan for luxury and technology.
Most drivers will be impressed and pleased with the excellent performance and notable luxury that come with the A8. The 2009 Audi A8 remains powered by a 350-horsepower, 4.2-liter V-8 on the standard A8 and extended-length A8 L, or a 450-hp W-12 engine in the top-of-the-range A8 L W12. The W-12 engine design is no mistake—it’s unique to Audi and Volkswagen, with three banks of cylinders, all staggered close to each other; the design is especially compact for a 12-cylinder. The high-performance S8, with its V-10 engine and more aggressive equipment, is covered by TheCarConnection.com in a separate review.
V-8-powered models of the 2009 Audi A8 have plenty of strength in either body length, but the 12-cylinder engine has a quiet whir and tremendous torque to provide effortless acceleration at almost any speed. Those sensitive about consumption should be aware that the W12 model has quite low fuel economy ratings, at 13 mpg city, 19 highway. Especially with the V-8-powered A8s, the overall handling and steering feel are remarkably nimble, and the A8 handles sharp curves better than most other large sedans its size; that’s likely because of the A8’s extensive aluminum construction and weight savings. The A8's variable-ratio, variable-assist steering system also has been recalibrated for 2009 to yield more road feel, and the air suspension has been retuned.
The 2009 Audi A8 has some of the best front seats in any vehicle at any price; they're large and not only firm enough to hold you in place on a twisty road but also superbly comfortable for long-haul driving. The standard-wheelbase model has enough backseat space for average-size adults, but the extended-length L model has almost limousine-like legroom that's good for even the lankiest passengers.
The instrument panel in the 2009 Audi A8 is exceptionally clean and simplified, at least in design, thanks to the Multi-Media Interface (MMI), which brings a single tactile controller to access a range of audio, climate-control, and navigation functions. Compared to BMW's iDrive or Mercedes-Benz's COMAND, MMI is much easier for newbies to figure out, and TheCarConnection.com’s editors feel that it’s less distracting overall.
The standard-features list for the 2009 Audi A8 is extensive; it includes a navigation system, heated front and rear seats, and adaptive bi-xenon headlamps. Other options include rear dual-zone climate controls, an awe-inspiring Bang & Olufsen sound system, obstacle-detection systems, a rearview camera, a solar-powered ventilation system, and a power rear sunshade.
A Sport Package is available on the 2009 Audi A8—bringing big 20-inch polished alloy wheels, summer performance tires, adaptive air suspension, and steering-wheel shift paddles—and new for 2009 is a Technology Package, which includes adaptive cruise control, side assist, and lane assist.
The 2009 Audi A8 has not been crash-tested, but its vast list of safety features includes separate front and rear side airbags, side-curtain airbags, front knee airbags, front active head restraints, and electronic stability control.