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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
considerable downshifting occurs on even moderate upgrades
unsettling wallow when at softer settings
steering is great, with perfect feel and weight
Editors at TheCarConnection.com are pleased to note that performance in the 2009 Audi A8/A8L is extremely strong—much improved over earlier versions of the vehicle.
The 2009 Audi A8 is powered by a 350-horsepower, 4.2-liter V-8 on the standard A8 and extended-length A8 L. The top-of-the-range A8 L W12 boasts a 450-hp 12-cylinder engine. (The high-performance S8, with its V-10 engine and more aggressive equipment, is covered in a separate review.)
Audi claims the 2009 Audi A8 will accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in just over 6 seconds with the standard V-8 engine; the top speed is limited to 155 mph. The longer-wheelbase, 12-cylinder version isn't necessarily faster: Motor Trend says the direct-injection V-8 engine "gives up little to the V-12" and squeezes out up to 18 mpg on the highway.
Both versions of the 2009 Audi A8 use a six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. Cars.com reports that "considerable downshifting occurs on even moderate upgrades. Fortunately, those downshifts are smooth and prompt." ForbesAutos explains that the transmission can be "taken through the gears like a manual." Furthermore, "you get an abundant rush of energy when the pedal is pushed," Cars.com allows.
The 2009 Audi A8's variable-ratio, variable-assist steering system is recalibrated to yield more road feel, and the air suspension is retuned. The adjustable suspension can "induce unsettling wallow when at softer settings," according to ConsumerGuide, though the A8 Audi rides on 19-inch wheels. However, even before the recent changes to the steering, MyRide.com declares, “On our twisty road loop in the Santa Monica Mountains, the Audi A8 felt smaller than actual size.”
Motor Trend notes that the Audi A8's new steering is "great, with perfect feel and weight, but...we didn't know the old steering ratio needed replacing." Cars.com approves of its drivability: "On narrow two-lane roads, this full-size sedan whips from one curve to the next with ease. It stays beautifully flat while cornering and responds immediately to driver inputs," they report.
The 2009 Audi A8/A8L does a good job of blending sophistication with high-performance muscle.