- Supple ride
- Gorgeous interior design
- Refined performance
- Spacious, comfortable seats
- Can overwhelm inside
- Limited powertrain lineup, for now
- Less-than-expressive styling
features & specs
The 2020 Audi A8 is a futuristic flagship that raises the bar with its high-tech features.
The 2020 Audi A8 is a high-tech masterpiece of a full-size luxury sedan. With its screen-heavy interior and silent powertrains, the A8 can come off a little cold and sterile at first, but we’ve warmed up to this spectacular sedan.
We rate the 2020 A8 at 7.2 out of 10, a score based on the base V-6-powered versions. A8s and S8s with a V-8 and a new plug-in hybrid are additions that add more performance and speed, along with good fuel-economy. (Read more on how we rate cars.)
The base sedan’s 335-horsepower 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 delivers strong acceleration and pairs exceptionally well with the standard 8-speed automatic transmission. Opting for the new hybrid will add 108 hp worth of lithium-ion battery and electric motor, which helps to slice the big car’s acceleration times considerably. The 4.0-liter V-8 in the A8 60 makes 453 hp and the S8 screws the turbos tighter for 563 hp. Both cars accelerate to 60 mph in breathtaking fashion: 4.9 seconds for the A8 60 and 3.8 seconds for the S8.
A plug-in hybrid is available and pairs a V-6 to lithium-ion batteries for up to 17 miles of all-electric range, 23 mpg combined, and a 0-60 sprint in less than 5 seconds.
Ride and handling are biased toward comfort and control, not sporty moves. The upcoming S8 doesn't shed the car’s sober personality, but it's a brisk performer. The standard adaptive air suspension is plush and cosseting, while the predictive suspension that uses various sensors to read the road ahead is even more comfortable.
The A8 weighs around 5,000 pounds and comes packed with a 48-volt electrical system that allows it to not skip a beat when the stop/start system kicks in at stoplights. The car may be heavy, but its optional rear-steering system slices its turning radius in town and delivers excellent high-speed tracking. The available active rear differential helps improve cornering, as well. This year’s new S8 comes standard with those performance features.
Inside, the conservative lines are offset by three screens that handle virtually every function. Few hard buttons and knobs remain, and even the air vents disappear when the car is turned off. The A8 is tremendously complex, though the two screens on the dash and center stack do their best to help drivers and passengers sort through the car’s considerable features.
Though the A8 can’t drive itself, it’s a big step in that direction. All A8s have an advanced automatic emergency braking system, while adaptive cruise control that can handle traffic jams with aplomb is likely to be fitted to most on dealer lots.
2020 Audi A8
The Audi A8 doesn’t indulge in much visual drama.
The 2020 Audi A8 is at home in the automaker’s lineup with its raise-no-eyebrows styling. Its look is clean and conservative, and we rate it at 7 out of 10 accordingly.
Last year’s redesign added around 1.5 inches of overall length. The car’s planted looks make it appear wider than before, though it’s not. Up front, the broad Audi grille appears to sit closer to the pavement, and the slim headlights that surround it are so intricately detailed that they’re worth examination on their own.
The car’s shape has some curviness in its rear haunches, but most lines are angular almost to a fault. At the rear, the wide LED taillights create a distinctive signature at night or when unlocked.
Inside, the cabin is dominated by central screens that eliminate nearly all hard buttons and knobs. The look is almost sterile in its modernity, though warmer interior hues help. Precise lines and beautiful fit and finish help the big sedan feel worth it cost of entry.
2020 Audi A8
The A8’s performance is striking in V-6 form—and there’s more.
There are several ways to get the A8 and all of them are powerful.
Our 8 out of 10 rating applies to the 335-horsepower 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 in the confusingly named A8 55. Other versions are more powerful, and we'd rate them higher if rated separately.
No matter what’ll be underhood, the A8 makes use of a taut multi-material structure that pairs aluminum with steel, magnesium, and even carbon fiber to shed weight and add rigidity. Underneath, the available active suspension provides a world-class ride as its cameras scan the road ahead and adjust the dampers for what the car is about to encounter.
Handling is good for a big sedan and remarkably nimble with the available rear-axle steering that can rotate the rear wheels as much as 5 degrees in the opposite direction of the fronts to tighten its turning radius. Select the active rear differential and power is distributed to the rear wheel that needs it most to bolster cornering as well. Ride quality is creamy in every mode.
Underhood, the V-6 vaults the big sedan to 60 mph in about 5.6 seconds as its 8-speed automatic transmission fires off quick shifts. Loping around at mere mortal speeds, the transmission fades into the background. All-wheel drive is standard.
The V-6 is technically a mild hybrid, though the 48-volt electrical system’s belt-alternator/starter and battery operate more like a heavy-duty start-stop system. The system operates unobtrusively, but we wish there was a low-load coasting or sailing feature like that offered to Europeans as it would probably save more fuel. The A8 is fairly thrifty for a big sedan.
More power, more efficiency
A 453-hp 4.0-liter V-8 is available in the A8 60. Like the V-6 version, it pairs to an 8-speed automatic and standard all-wheel drive. Audi estimates that the A8 V-8 (or A8 60, if you must) springs from a standstill to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds—the same time as the athletic S7.
A 563-horsepower version of the turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 creates the S8 performance flagship. To make the most of that power, the S8 will come with rear-wheel steering and the active differential. Standard 21-inch wheels will be wrapped in performance tires, and the car also includes a tweaked version of the adaptive suspension.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, the A8 60 TFSI e is a plug-in hybrid that uses the standard car’s 3.0-liter V-6 as its starting point and adds a 14.1-kwh lithium-ion battery pack stored in the trunk. Performance should be breathtaking—Audi it takes 4.9 seconds to make the 0-60 sprint—and fuel economy is better, too.
2020 Audi A8
Comfort & Quality
The 2020 Audi A8 pampers everyone with a seat belt with its gorgeous, well-wrought, and occasionally overwhelming interior.
The 2020 Audi A8 is among the most advanced cars on the market, though its interior does its best to calm and soothe those who have the opportunity to experience its complexity.
We start with an average score and add points for the spacious, plush front and rear seats as well as the luxurious materials Audi has selected. That brings the 2020 A8 to an 8 out of 10 for its comfort and quality.
The front seats feature 18-way controls and are wrapped in sumptuous leather upholstery. Cooling, massaging, softer hides, and even more adjustment are optional for those who must have everything. Rear-seat riders are treated to excellent stretch-out space, big door openings, and nearly as many luxuries as those up front. An optional package adds heating, cooling, and massage for the reclining right-rear seat, and both back-seat occupants get their own tray tables and LED lights. The airline industry could learn a thing or two. (Maybe it already has? The A8’s trunk space is a measly 12.5 cubic feet.)
Gorgeous materials everywhere hands might venture help justify the hefty price. The A8 is hushed at speed, all the better to enjoy either the standard 17-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo or the optional 23-speaker version.
2020 Audi A8
The 2020 Audi A8 marches ahead with impressive safety tech.
The 2020 Audi A8 is packed with features that help the driver avoid crashes, though it has not been crash tested by the IIHS or the NHTSA. Given its hefty price and low sales, it’s not likely that it’ll be subjected to the barrage of tests conducted by the insurance industry or the federal government, so we can’t assign a score here.
Every A8 comes with automatic emergency braking, parking sensors, and a slew of airbags. Most are likely to be fitted with a package that includes adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go for traffic jams, cross-traffic alerts, and even a warning that alerts occupants to passing cyclists or cars before they open the doors. Perhaps the most amazing feature is that the car can automatically lift its suspension by 3.1 inches if it detects an impending side impact in order to let the structure absorb the crash.
Surround-view camera and night-vision systems are optional.
2020 Audi A8
The 2020 Audi A8 is perhaps the most tech-laden car on the market.
Myriad standard and optional features ensure that the 2020 Audi A8 is a bona fide flagship. It earns a 9 here with plentiful base features, high-tech interfaces, a wide range of customizability, and advanced driving technologies.
Base cars want for little with their 18-way adjustable front seats, adaptive air suspension, three screens that include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, 17-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio, panoramic moonroof, and far more. Figure spending about $86,200 for a base A8 55 and more than $10,000 additional for the V-8-powered A8 60. The plug-in hybrid model costs about $95,000 to start. The S8 runs at least $130,500.
It’s hard to imagine needing additional features, but few A8s are likely to lack any options. We’d certainly add the Luxury Package with its softer leather, synthetic suede headliner, aluminum buttons, and ambient lighting. The rear-axle steering system and predictive suspension are worth ordering for more spirited drivers as well.
The 2020 A8 has a complex technology story to tell, and its interface will certainly require acclimation. A 10.3-inch screen on the dash is paired with an 8.6-inch display on the center stack. The two work in concert to handle audio, climate, and navigation functions. Pressure-sensitive interfaces mean that functions such as changing the heated seat’s temperature are as intuitive as holding the virtual button for a longer period.
Audi’s built-in navigation system is crisp and effective, and we love the Google Earth overlay, though be prepared for a monthly data charge.
Our initial experience with the system’s voice commands has been positive, though we’ll need more time behind the wheel to really get to know who we’re talking to.
Audi covers all its cars with a 4-year/50,000-mile warranty that includes 4 years of roadside service and a free first service call.
2020 Audi A8
The 2020 Audi A8 is not especially fuel efficient, though a hybrid is more fuel-efficient.
The base 2020 Audi A8 is rated at a so-so 17 mpg city, 26 highway, 21 combined. That’s not a great figure, though it’s not too atrocious considering the car’s power. We rate the A8 at 4 out of 10 for its fuel economy.
The upcoming V-8 is thirstier at 15/23/18 mpg. A plug-in hybrid is available and is rated at 23 mpg combined when driving as a hybrid. The EPA says the plug-in A8 can run on 17 miles on electricity alone.
On the other end of the efficiency spectrum is the S8. The EPA rates it's more powerful V-8 at 13/22/18 mpg.
All A8s require premium unleaded gasoline.