Top Torque | 2014 Audi A8 L TDI

August 2013 View more

Photos courtesy of ®2013 Audi of America

Numbers clearly don’t mean anything anymore. If they did, then the redesigned Audi A8 L TDI would not exist. Why? If numbers mattered, a sedan endowed with a 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine making just 240-horsepower would not command an $80,000-plus price tag.

But the Audi A8 L TDI does exist, because those numbers tell only part of the story.

The rest of the story includes the modestly sized engine’s turbo-diesel technology, its locomotive-like 406 pound-feet of torque, and the delightful way it connects with the car’s astute eight-speed transmission. The rest of the story also includes the car’s resulting fuel efficiency—up to an estimated 36 miles per gallon on the highway.

N2013_08_01_002ROADIf the A8 L TDI were a bottle of wine, one sip would immediately establish its terroir. Diesel engines have a longer and more well-regarded history in Germany, from whence Audi’s flagship model springs, and the car’s ability to effortlessly and quietly cruise at extra-legal speeds speaks to its roots in Europe.

That high-velocity performance bodes well for long road trips, but fear not for your daily commute. In our typical stop-and-go traffic, a zero-to-60 time in the mid-six seconds, according to Audi, means the A8 L TDI can more than keep up with plenty of smaller and sportier-looking cars.

The A8’s permanent all-wheel-drive is slightly biased toward the rear (60/40), giving it both a stable bearing and a pleasantly sporty handling profile. While the A8’s steering is extremely well-weighted and precise in almost every regard, the wheel tightens up a degree too much at low speeds, so turning a quick corner demands more muscle than you might expect.

N2013_08_01_001ROADRoad noise is virtually nonexistent, but road feel strikes a good balance between luxury-car smooth and driver’s-car communicative. Shod with all-season tires, perhaps paired with optional 20-inch, 10-spoke wheels, this is a car that will perform well in rain and snow.

With its long hood, short trunk, and form-fitted wheel wells, the A8 wears its size well. The car’s twin exhaust pipes are neatly integrated into the car’s rear bumper. On a car draped in crystal clean, Glacier White metallic paint, this sharp design cue should clearly be read as a statement of defiance against diesel’s sooty past.
The A8’s standard interior is anything but. Open the door and behold a gorgeous blend of form and function. Old-world luxury including polished wood, plush carpets, leather, suede, meets au courant technology. In the automotive arms race leading up to self-driving cars, the A8 is keeping pace with such features as auto braking, adaptive cruise control, lane control, and more camera angles than at a movie premiere.

The “L” in the model’s name indicates a longer wheelbase than the standard A8 and is the only way to get the TDI engine. By “long,” Audi means five more inches than the standard A8. This relatively modest-sounding extension pays off for rear-seat passengers who get four luxurious inches of additional legroom while not noticeably affecting the car’s maneuverability or performance.

The opening bid on a 2014 Audi A8 L TDI is $82,500, but many buyers will raise their paddles on $10,000 or more of must-have options. Among those are the $4,000 Premium package including side assist, LED headlights, and über-adjustable front seats, and the $3,250 Driver Assistance package with adaptive cruise control, lane assist, high-beam assist, and a “topview” camera system. A standard WiFi hotspot requires a monthly service fee, but that would be money well spent, given the car’s 800-plus-mile cruising range, it may become your go-to choice for long trips.