On the outside, the 2012 Audi A8 is a bit conservative--especially when parked next to the swoopier A7 fastback. But it has an interior that's truly worth gushing over. It's one of the most stylish, best-detailed cabins we've seen, ever, and it's carefully trimmed in wood, leather, aluminum and plastic, with a sueded headliner and rich colors throughout.
The A8 was all-new last year, but its exterior looked like a clear evolution of the previous model--albeit one with its proportions slightly different, its stance more aggressive, and its sheetmetal nicely nipped and tucked. There's 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.
This time around, the A8 has proportions that are more like those of a traditional rear-wheel-drive sport sedan--a little more long-hooded and broad-shouldered--and while we like how it looks from the side or from the back, the proportions don't pop in quite the same way from the front. Audi's eggcrate grille and front airdam, which used to look brash and different now feels more ordinary. But a major benefit from the redesign appears to be aerodynamics; the A8 is now in the same range as the Toyota Prius for drag, with a coefficient of just 0.26.
Inside, the Audi A8 is one of the most stylish luxury-vehicle interiors we've tested or seen, ever. With plush materials, and the impression that not a detail has been missed if it pertains to styling, it impresses from first glance or even after you've scrutinized the details. 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. The rich wood and leather and complemented by aluminum and plastic trim, rich color schemes, and a sueded headliner.
On closer look, it's some of the details that really enforce the wow factor. Audi has modeled the throttle lever after those in yachts and powerboats (though it's a bit like a golf putter), while on startup, two tweeters rise almost silently from the dash.