2010 Audi A8 Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
January 7, 2010

The 2010 Audi A8 and A8 L wear its subtle suit well-and outhandles some of its more exotic-looking competition.

TheCarConnection's editors have driven the latest Audi A8 to deliver firsthand driving impressions, along with a comparison of the A8 to other full-size luxury sedans. TheCarConnection also compiles a full review of quotes and opinions from other respected Web sources, to bring you a comprehensive guide to the A8.

The 2010 Audi A8 is Audi's largest luxury sedan, and it's available for a final year in its current body style. A major redesign is coming for the 2011 model year, and will bring with it new V-8 engines, both gas and diesel, as well as a much more sophisticated interior with touchpad technology for audio and communications systems. In its current body style, the A8 comes in a single powertrain combination, with a V-8 engine, automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive-though it's sold in standard and extended-length body styles. With a base price of $75,000, the A8 competes with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7-Series, Lexus LS range, and the new Jaguar XJ.

It's long, and it's lithe, but the 2010 Audi A8's exterior shape is somewhat forgettable. It predates the era of Bangle-designed BMWs and follow-up Benzes that turned Germany's automakers into purveyors of style-and it's outshaped by the lovely new 2011 Jaguar XJ, which renders all these cars in somber shades of grey. The A8 doesn't suffer for its sedate looks, and the large Audi grille up front has begun to grow on TheCarConnection.com's editors-if only on large vehicles that can handle its overbearing size. Elsewhere, the cues echo those of older Audis-the gentle downward drape of the roofline, squared-off tail lamps, and discreetly creased fenders. The A8's interior reads exceptionally clean and simplified, thanks to the Multi-Media Interface (MMI), which brings a single tactile controller to access a range of audio, climate-control, and navigation functions. Fewer buttons collect on the A8's dash and armrests, and high-dollar finishes add more than a veneer of rich look and feel. Audi's interiors have always looked a bit brighter and friendlier than other German sedans, and even at its advanced automotive age, the A8's cockpit shines.

Performance has been an asset of the Audi A8 since its current form took shape in the early 2000s. Drivers will enjoy its V-8 whir and the subtle shifts of its six-speed automatic transmission-though in this final year, the high-performance S8 and the 12-cylinder versions have been dropped from the U.S. product lineup. Soldiering on is the 350-horsepower, 4.2-liter V-8, which has plenty of muscle for the lighter, more agile, aluminum-frame A8. The lightweight body contributes to its energetic feel, giving the biggest Audio less baggage to carry around and lending it a nimble overall handling and steering feel, particularly for its class. It simply handles sharp curves better than most other large sedans its size, due to weight savings and the confidence its naturally weighted steering and all-weather traction bring. Ride quality is another high point, with the A8's air suspension delivering a well-balanced ride that's far from springy or tight. Fuel economy is rated at 16/23 mpg, a mild surprise in this class.

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Passenger comfort is a strong suit of the latest big Audi. The 2010 A8 sports some of the most comfortable front seats in any vehicle at any price. The multi-adjustable chairs are large enough for big adults, for instance. They're firm enough to hold front passengers in place during brisk driving maneuvers, yet superbly cushioned for long-haul drives. The backseat in the standard-wheelbase model is more than spacious enough for average-size adults; the extended-wheelbase A8 L offers near-limousine legroom to please even the longest-limbed passengers. Trunk space is good for the class, and the quality of the interior is exceptionally high even in the class, with soft-touch surfaces, tightly fitted trim pieces, a sueded headliner, and custom wood trim among the highlights.

Neither NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) nor the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) has crash-tested the 2010 A8. Its vast list of safety features earns TheCarConnection.com's relatively high safety rating. That list includes dual front airbags; separate front and rear side airbags; side-curtain airbags; front knee airbags; front active head restraints; and electronic stability control. All-wheel drive is standard, as are LED daytime running lights. The older A8 does not lack for advanced safety features; an optional Technology Package includes a rearview camera, as well as lane-departure and blind-spot alert systems.

The 2010 Audi A8 sports the expected, lengthy list of standard luxury and convenience features. Among them a navigation system is standard, as are heated front and rear seats, 19-inch wheels, a trunklid spoiler, and adaptive bi-xenon headlamps. Ventilated, massaging sport seats are standard on long-wheelbase A8 sedans and optional on the short-wheelbase car. A Sport Package brings big 20-inch polished alloy wheels, summer performance tires, the adaptive air suspension, and steering-wheel shift paddles. Other options include rear dual-zone climate controls, an awe-inspiring Bang & Olufsen sound system, a solar-powered ventilation system, and a power rear sunshade. Audi's Multi-Media Interface (MMI) uses a roller wheel and buttons to provide control over audio, climate, and entertainment systems while leaving the driver's eyes on the road. Compared to BMW's iDrive or Mercedes-Benz's COMAND, MMI is much easier for newbies to figure out, and TheCarConnection.com's editors feel that it's less distracting overall-particularly in the new software adopted for the 2010 model year.

7

2010 Audi A8

Styling

The 2010 Audi A8 is elegant but subdued; inside, it's a low-key dazzler.

It's long, and it's lithe, but the 2010 Audi A8's exterior shape is somewhat forgettable.

Edmunds says the "snob appeal" of the Audi 2010 is still less than that of its rivals from BMW and Mercedes. The reason? The A8 predates the era of Bangle-designed BMWs and follow-up Benzes that turned Germany's automakers into purveyors of style-and it's outshaped by the lovely new 2011 Jaguar XJ, which renders all these cars in somber shades of grey. The A8 doesn't suffer much for its sedate looks, and the large Audi grille up front has begun to grow on TheCarConnection.com's editors-if only on large vehicles that can handle its overbearing size. Elsewhere, the cues echo those of older Audis-the gentle downward drape of the roofline, squared-off tail lamps, and discreetly creased fenders. The A8 L simply stretches the concept; it has a 121-inch wheelbase, slightly more than 5 inches beyond that of the base model, according to Cars.com.

Inside, it's impeccably detailed, and the Audi A8's cabin is as "handsome and spacious" as ever, Edmunds believes. The A8's interior reads exceptionally clean and simplified, thanks to the Multi-Media Interface (MMI), which brings a single tactile controller to access a range of audio, climate-control, and navigation functions. Fewer buttons collect on the A8's dash and armrests, and high-dollar finishes add more than a veneer of rich look and feel. Audi's interiors have always looked a bit brighter and friendlier than other German sedans, and even at its advanced automotive age, the A8's cockpit shines. "Nobody does an interior like Audi," MyRide gushes, which reports the A8 "is awash in gorgeous wood, lovely aluminum and buttery Valcona leather."

Review continues below
8

2010 Audi A8

Performance

The 2010 Audi A8/A8L blends handling finesse with high-performance V-8 muscle.

Performance has been an asset of the Audi A8 since its current form took shape in the early 2000s. Drivers will enjoy its V-8 whir and the subtle shifts of its six-speed automatic transmission-though in this final year, the high-performance S8 and the 12-cylinder versions have been dropped from the U.S. product lineup.

The former longer-wheelbase, 12-cylinder version wasn't necessarily faster; in an older review, Motor Trend says the direct-injection V-8 engine "gives up little to the V-12." Soldiering on for 2010, the 350-horsepower, 4.2-liter V-8 has plenty of power for the lighter, more agile, aluminum-frame A8. With it, Audi claims the 2010 Audi A8 will accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in just over 6 seconds. The top speed is limited to 155 mph. With the standard six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, "considerable downshifting occurs on even moderate upgrades," Cars.com reports. "Fortunately, those downshifts are smooth and prompt." Fuel economy is rated at 16/23 mpg, a mild surprise in this class.

The lightweight body contributes to its energetic feel, giving the biggest Audi less baggage to carry around, and lending it a nimble overall handling and steering sensation, particularly for its class. It simply handles sharp curves better than most other large sedans its size, due to weight savings and the confidence its naturally weighted steering and all-weather traction bring. MyRide declares, "On our twisty road loop in the Santa Monica Mountains, the Audi A8 felt smaller than actual size." Ride quality is another high point, with the A8's air suspension delivering a well-balanced ride that's far from springy or tight. Motor Trend says steering is "great, with perfect feel and weight," and Cars.com reports, "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."

Review continues below
10

2010 Audi A8

Comfort & Quality

The 2010 Audi A8/A8L is one of the most comfortable and luxurious cars on the market.

Passenger comfort is a strong suit of the latest big Audi.

The 2010 A8 sports some of the most comfortable front seats in any vehicle at any price. The multi-adjustable chairs are large enough for big adults, for instance. They're firm enough to hold front passengers in place during brisk driving maneuvers, yet superbly cushioned for long-haul drives. Testing an extended-length A8 L, MyRide reports, "Seating is firm and supportive front and rear, and rear occupants enjoy substantial amounts of leg and foot room to ensure total comfort."

The backseat in the standard-wheelbase model is more than spacious enough for average-size adults; the extended-wheelbase A8 L offers up near-limousine legroom to please even the longest-limbed passengers. The rear doors in the 2010 Audi A8 are longer than most, making life easier for second-row passengers. Automotive.com notes that the A8L "provides more room and comfort for rear-seat passengers, not that the standard-length model is cramped." Trunk space is good for the class.

The quality of the 2010 A8's interior is exceptionally high even in the class, with soft-touch surfaces, tightly fitted trim pieces, a sueded headliner, and custom wood trim among the highlights. Edmunds calls the interior "superb...with generous amounts of wood, Alcantara (suede) and aluminum accents." ConsumerGuide reports the A8's 19-inch tires are "most always whisper quiet," they say, but "rumble and whine a bit on coarse pavement."

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9

2010 Audi A8

Safety

The 2010 Audi A8 and A8L have not yet been crash-tested, but have a complete set of safety features and high-tech safety options on call.

Neither NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) nor the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) has crash-tested the 2010 A8.

A vast list of safety features earns TheCarConnection.com's relatively high safety rating. That list includes dual front airbags; separate front and rear side airbags; side-curtain airbags; front knee airbags; front active head restraints; and electronic stability control. All-wheel drive is standard, as are LED daytime running lights, according to Cars.com.

The older A8 does not lack for advanced safety features; an optional Technology Package includes a rearview camera, as well as lane-departure and blind-spot alert systems. Audi's "lane assist" system causes the steering wheel to vibrate when the vehicle begins to wander; Motor Trend recommends turning off this feature "except when going cross-country on too little sleep...it's amusing at first, then more annoying than helpful."

Review continues below
9

2010 Audi A8

Features

The 2010 Audi A8 and A8L blends technology features ably with old-school luxury finishes and trims.

The 2010 Audi A8 sports the expected, lengthy list of standard luxury and convenience features.

Among them a navigation system is standard, as are heated front and rear seats, Bluetooth, 19-inch wheels, a trunklid spoiler, and adaptive bi-xenon headlamps. Ventilated, massaging sport seats are standard on long-wheelbase A8 sedans and optional on the short-wheelbase car. Cars.com lists keyless entry and engine start-up, four-zone automatic climate control, and front and rear Parktronic parking sensors, among the gear included on each A8.

A Sport Package brings big 20-inch polished alloy wheels, summer performance tires, adaptive air suspension, and steering-wheel shift paddles. Other options include rear dual-zone climate controls, an awe-inspiring Bang & Olufsen sound system, a solar-powered ventilation system, and a power rear sunshade. A carbon-fiber interior trim option is offered, though interior leather options have been cut for this final model year.

Audi's Multi-Media Interface (MMI) uses a roller wheel and buttons to provide control over audio, climate, and entertainment systems while leaving the driver's eyes on the road. Compared to BMW's iDrive or Mercedes-Benz's COMAND, MMI is much easier for newbies to figure out, and TheCarConnection.com's editors feel that it's less distracting overall-particularly in the new software adopted for the 2010 model year.

Review continues below
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8.6
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Styling 7
Performance 8
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