At this level of executive-luxury realness, you expect the Audi A8 to deliver more than just the basics. It has it handled, with a flourish of digital awesomeness that brings a little of the desktop and handheld computing experience to the cockpit.
Every A8 gets standard power features, cruise control, leather, a sunroof, navigation, and an AM/FM/CD/XM audio system with Bluetooth audio streaming, a USB connectivity kit, and Bose premium speakers. Front and rear climate control systems also are standard, as are power-operated rear seats and a sunroof.
The infotainment system is governed by MMI. Audi's interface accepts inputs by voice, by steering-wheel switches, from a knob controller, and from fingertip gestures "written" on the controller's touch-sensitive surface. MMI has its significant pitfalls, but its command structure seems more intuitive than iDrive from BMW, or COMAND from Mercedes.
It's superior, too, since it can pipe in data from the T-Mobile network to deliver Google Earth maps, rendered in intuitive, lush graphics on the central screen. It means a monthly subscription fee for your car, but it also means up to 8 devices can connect to an in-car hotspot.
Option packs ladle on more equipment. A8 sedans with V-89 and V-6 engines can be topped off with 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.
On the new TDI turbodiesel, the options are only slightly reconfigured; one Premium Package includes those 22-way power front seats with ventilation, LED headlamps, and blind-spot monitors, but nothing that can't be found on other models.
As for the performance S8 edition, it comes only in short-wheelbase form. 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.