Advancement has continued apace at Audi, as evidenced by impressive new versions of the Q7, A4, and TT. Each of these redesigned models brings more sharply creased sheetmetal, as well as tech-savvy interiors, crisper dynamics, and new platforms underneath. Similar changes are coming soon for the Q5 crossover and the A5 coupe.
But some old Audi still exists within the lineup, even at the top. The current-generation A8 sedan, which first arrived in 2010, is starting to look dated compared with its fresher showroom mates. And yet, despite its age, the biggest four-ringed four-door offers plenty to like for the full-size-luxury-sedan buyer.
Any Wheelbase You Like, So Long as It’s Long.
As it nears the end of its life cycle, the U.S.-spec A8 lineup shrinks for 2016. The short-wheelbase version is gone, as is the ignominious TDI diesel (for now, at least), leaving only the long-wheelbase A8L available with a six-, eight-, or 12-cylinder engine. The 4.0T is the sole A8 model to pack a V-8 (excepting the short-wheelbase S8 Plus variant), and all 4.0Ts adopt the new “Sport” designation for 2016. That means slightly more-aggressive front and rear fascias and a 15-hp bump for the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 to bring horsepower up to 450.
More power was just about the last thing the A8 needed. The last A8L 4.0T we tested recorded a blistering zero-to-60-mph time of 3.9 seconds and ran the quarter-mile in 12.4 seconds. Despite packing a little extra power, this one matched those numbers exactly. It still leaves the equivalent V-8–powered BMW 7-series (the 750i xDrive) sedan, which hit 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, in its dust.
Your passengers, cosseted as they may be by the hedonistic rear seats with heating, cooling, and massage functions, will never suspect that the A8L is capable of Corvette-rivaling acceleration runs. The potent V-8 goes about its business with no drama whatsoever, with power delivered effortlessly throughout the rev range and only a slight hint of refined snarl entering the otherwise serene cabin.
Passersby won’t take much notice of the A8L, either, even in this Sport trim. Its clean, purposeful lines and restrained use of chrome mean that the Audi lacks the panache of its rivals from elsewhere in Germany. We appreciate the subtle approach, but some might mistake it for a more plebeian A6. If a sexy, head-turning Audi is what you’re after, choose the more rakish A7 (or one of its S7 and RS7 variants) instead.