2011 Audi A8 Styling

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Styling
Judging only by the interior, the Audi A8 is one of the most stylish luxury-vehicle interiors we've tested or seen, ever. The instrument panel is trimmed with finishes that you don't typically see in other luxury vehicles, with a hazy, glossy-matte metallic surface that's used throughout in accents and in the dash's center beltline. And the instrument panel angles gracefully into the wide center console, reserving audio and climate controls for a section that's nicely angled up toward the driver. Inside, the cabin's been upgraded with wood, leather, aluminum and plastic trim, a sueded headliner and rich colors.

While many of today's new cars—even across brands—share some of the same switchgear and detailing, you'd be challenged to find evidence of such cross-pollination in this cabin. Just glancing around the A8 reveals countless little details that are reserved for this and only this interior. Figuring in just as much as a styling expression as a functional element in the A8 are the two tweeters that rise almost silently from the dash upon startup. Even the shift knob for the automatic transmission is significantly different than what's used in other Audi models; Audi says it's modeled after the throttle in yachts and powerboats, but we see golf putter.

From the outside, we're unable to gush in the same way. From most angles, the new A8 looks only like an extension of the outgoing design—albeit with some awesome detailing this time around, as you could get lost for minutes in the fine detail in and around the LED headlights and taillights. But in an apparent effort to make the A8 look a little more long-hooded and broad-shouldered (more like a traditional rear-wheel-drive sport sedan), the automaker has almost lost its proportions. While the A8 looks great from the side, or straight on from the rear, hardcore Audi fans might be disappointed that the proportions don't pop, especially from front angles, the way they used to. Audi's eggcrate grille and front airdam, which used to look brash and different now feels more ordinary. Aerodynamics of the design are very impressive, with the coefficient of drag, at 0.26, about the same as that of the Toyota Prius.

The 2011 Audi A8 has, hands down, one of the warmest, most welcoming, and finest-detailed interiors ever in a German sedan; but its exterior proportions leave it short of perfection.

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