The 2011 model-year A8 is the third-generation of Audi’s prestigious full-size luxury sedan. Naturally, you’d expect Uber opulence from this European automaker’s flagship sedan — and you get it of course.
However, today’s pressure environment to deliver higher fuel mileage levels is an EPA ratings smackdown — and even the luxury marquees are feeling the heat. Audi is no exception, as it rolls out an all-new A8 that boasts bountiful achievements in the EPA ratings war.
Audi reports the new 2011 A8 reduces fuel consumption over the previous model by 17 percent, while simultaneously bumping up horsepower and torque outputs. Key to improving fuel mileage by double-digit percentages are the engine, an all-new transmission, and some weight reduction.
The new-generation A8 is equipped with an eight-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Audi’s automatic-8 links to an optimized 4.2-liter V-8 engine and all-wheel drive as standard equipment. Audi’s Quattro is a rear-biased all-wheel-drive system that splits the torque 40:60 front-to-rear, giving this full-size sedan a sportier maturity.
For 2011, the refined 4.2L V-8 with FSI Direct Injection delivers an increase of horsepower over the previous A8 of 372 hp vs. 350 hp. Torque is also increased to 328 lb.-ft. from 325 lb.-ft.
The 2011 A8’s ultimate prowess over its predecessor is displayed in the EPA deliberation of 21 miles per gallon in combined city/highway driving compared to the 18 mpg city/highway combined on the outgoing model. The 2011 A8 Quattro delivers 17 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.
The new A8 benefits from 25 percent more torsional rigidity for improved handling and other welding technologies that went into reducing weight and improving fuel economy.
The new-found prowess of the Audi A8 is visually apparent on the outside. The front-end rolls with a muscular confidence with rounded arches around the fascia and grille and around its athletic 20-inch wheels. The full-LED headlight assembly is not only technologically brilliant, but Audi also raises the bar in automotive artistic original design with unique headlighting.
Audi’s original art aptitudes are carried over to the interior. A theme central to the interior ambiance is the “skyliner” approach to lighting. The A8 — and in particular the long wheelbase A8L — are spacious, comfortable and roomy sedans. But as they say in show biz, “lighting is everything” and Audi brings Hollywood glamorous to its occupants. Interior stylists accentuate the feeling of roominess and spaciousness with expansive mood light in driver-selectable lighting themes of ivory, polar and ruby. Natural daylight floods the cabin, if desired, with a pair of skylights.
The driver is always in control in the A8 and now Audi offers as a standard feature on the 2011 model Drive Select, which gives the driver options for Dynamic, Comfort Auto and Individual styles of driving. Pricing for the 2011 A8 starts at $78,050.
Here’s a feature that’s a little over the top, but is the prerogative of automakers in the luxury class to push the boundaries of what’s possible. New in Audi’s next-generation of MMI (man machine interface) is MMI Touch with a center console touchpad that recognizes handwriting with your fingertip for entering navigation addresses and destinations.
Audi drives home the joy of “driver-car interaction” in the 2011 A8 with interior technology — as well as its drivability engineering. — Connie Keane, Motor Matters
Manufacturer photo: The 2011 Audi A8 ushers in a new era of luxury as the flagship sedan of the Audi brand. The 2011 A8 is the third generation of the A8 model line. It features the 4.2-liter direct injection V-8 and all-new eight-speed automatic transmission. The A8 delivers increased horsepower, torque, fuel economy and performance over the previous generation, underlining the goal of delivering luxury driving dynamics and efficiency.
2011 AUDI A8L
VEHICLE TYPE_________________ 5-passenger AWD full-size sedan
BASE PRICE___________________ $84,000 (as-tested: $88,375)
MOTOR TYPE___________________ 32-valve V-8 w/FSI-DI
HORSEPOWER (net)_____________ 372 at 6800 rpm
TORQUE (lb.-ft.)_____________ 328 at 3500 rpm
TRANSMISSION_________________ 8-speed automatic
WHEELBASE____________________ 122.9 in.
OVERALL LENGTH_______________ 207.4 in.
TURNING CIRCLE (curb-to-curb) 41.7 ft.
FUEL CAPACITY________________ 23.8 gal.
EPA MILEAGE RATING___________ 17 mpg city, 27 mpg highway
Copyright, AutoWriters Associates Inc., 2011