Flagship sedans bristle with luxury and infotainment features no matter which country they hail from. German sedans have their own internecine battles to fight, with Audi the new challenger to Mercedes and BMW--so it goes above and beyond on the technology front, to woo executives into the seats of the A8.
Every Audi A8 sedan comes with the luxury necessities, things like power everything; leather seating; navigation; satellite radio; USB port; Bose audio; and multi-zone climate control. In the A8, there's also standard all-wheel drive, a sunroof, and power-adjustable rear seats. On long-wheelbase models, the trunklid closes itself at the touch of a button.
Audi's MMI controller maintains order over the universe of climate, audio, phone, and navigation systems. As before, it features a rotating knob on the console that scrolls through menus, but with this generation of the A8, it's added MMI Touch, a touchpad with text entry via fingertip like the old-school Palm Pilot. Steering-wheel controls provide yet another way, along with voice controls, to run various functions to varying degrees, though there are some gaps in MMI's moderately agreeable architecture--you can't click forward a track on Bluetooth-streaming audio from the steering wheel, for example.
Undoubtedly, the centerpiece of the A8's center stack is Audi Connect, a new system that uses its own data connection to get Google Earth maps, live updates and routing information. It's displayed on an eight-inch screen that's beautiful and easy to read from a wide range of angles. It and an integrated wireless hotspot for up to eight devices have been made standard, but there's a monthly subscription fee.
Other options bend toward the luxury vein. On A8 sedans powered by six- or eight-cylinder engines, Audi offers option packages for ventilated seats, sport tires, and leather console and armrests. Stand-alone options including night vision, rear-seat entertainment, and full LED headlights. Serious audiophiles will want to go for the top Bang & Olufsen Advanced sound system, which has 19 speakers, including small tweeters at the front of the cabin that emerge at startup, along with more than 1400 watts of power.
As for the more pricey models, the performance S8 edition comes only in short-wheelbase form, and in addition to the A8's equipment, it gets sport trim, including carbon-fiber and aluminum details inside and out; 21-inch wheels and tires; a surround-view camera; an Alcantara headliner in coordinated colors or in black; ventilated front seats; Nappa leather; and parking sensors. Options include blind-spot monitors; a four-spoke steering wheel; heated rear seats; and five-spoke 21-inch wheels, as well as the Bang & Olufsen system, the entertainment system, and night vision.Almost everything is standard on the W12 model, including twin LCD screens mounted on the front-seat headrests and Bluetooth headphones. Options come down to a new Sport package shared with the A8, which includes a sport-tuned suspension, differential, driver-selectable steering, and summer tires. There's also an available Executive Rear Seat package with a reclining seat, footrest, and seat ventilation, and a cooler box. Bang & Olufsen audio is a $6,300 option; night vision can be ordered; a package bundles adaptive cruise, lane-keeping assist and blind-spot monitors; four years of satellite radio can be prepaid at purchase; and a five-seat layout is available.