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Audi A8: Superlimos unlimited in SA

2014-04-02 14:07

'L' FOR LONG - AND LUXURY: An Audi A8 L (long-wheelbase) in its natural surroundings - reception at the luxurious Lanzerac hotel in Stellenbosch, near Cape Town. Latest models have just reached South Africa. Image: LES STEPHENSON

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LES STEPHENSON

  • Audi hones flagship models
  • More powerful engines, new systems
  • Matrix LED headlight technology
  • Fuel consumption cut - all models
  • New long-wheelbase derivatives

CAPE TOWN - Audi’s current A8 superlimos, first seen back in December 2009 when they were launched in Miami by actress Lucy Liu, have been created afresh with a full aluminium shell, even more-muscular engines and some really clever headlights.

The South African launch of the 2014 models happened this week (April 1-4) in the Western Cape with its base at the Lanzerac hotel and wine estate in Stellenbosch – suitably posh for some seriously upmarket cars.

STOCK IS READY

Audi SA is from April 2014 offering diesel A8 models – a V6 3.0 TDI quattro and a V8 4.2 TDI quattro in normal and long-wheelbase all-aluminium bodies. Hang on until May and they’ll be joined by all new Audi S8 and A8 6.3-litre W12, the latter in long-wheelbase for pure-bred plutocrats.

And yes, each is all-wheel drive. Specific dealers nationwide have stock now; units whose buyers seek additions from the options lists not immediately available will have to wait between four and six months.

GALLERY: 2014 Audi A8 and A8 L

Later in 2014 those who perceive protection problems will be able to tell the board to order a few Audi A8 Security units with either a 4.0T FSI or W12 6.3 engine. Absolute power, and all that...

Not that the sticker numbers will bother A8 customers but us mere mortals whose cars will be rocking in their slipstream might like to know what the privilege will cost the cosseted few:

Prices for the immediately available A8 range, including all taxes and the standard five-year or 100 000km Audi Freeway Plan, are...

  • Audi A8 V6 3.0 TDI quattro Tiptronic - R1 101 500
  • Audi A8 V8 4.2 TDI quattro - R1 390 000
  • Audi A8 V6 3.0 TDI LWB quattro - R1 257 500
  • Audi A8 V8 4.2 TDI LWB quattro - R1 545 500

Pricing/specs for the Audi A8 W12 6.3 quattro and Audi S8will be released closer to the launch in May 2014.

Audi SA says: "The refreshed A8 places Audi among the innovation leaders in the luxury segment. One great strength of the sedan is its lightweight construction - the body is made almost entirely of aluminium and spaceframe design. The standard 5.14m-long, 1.95m wide shell weighs only 231kg."

ENORMOUS LEGROOM

Those dimensions are unchanged, as are the wheelbase (2.99m) and height (1.46m). The A8 Long (L) stretches for a further 13cm in both length and wheelbase and extra sound-damping is thrown in for almost total silence on the move.

The extra length creates enormous legroom and there’s an option of a Business Class-style fold-out lower-leg support from the front seats, essentially turning a rear seat into a bed.

Could be useful if Mrs Plutocrat finds out her Month in the Maldives has turned into a new motor for Mr P...

Lookswise, the bonnet has been made “more expressive”, the grille has been made “more sculptured” and the lower edge of each headlight has been straightened.

Xenon ‘plus’ headlights are standard on the 3.0 TDI and 4.2 TDI , LED units on the still-to-come S8 4.0T quattro... which brings us to the new Matrix LED technology that require no effort on the part of the driver to dip the headlights. How come so...? They’re on main beam all the time.

HIGH-TECH HEADLIGHTS

Unless standard (as on the upcoming A8 W12 6.3 L), Matrix will cost R18 000 to upgrade from LED or R33 000 from xenon lights. Here’s what you get (Audi’s words):

"Audi also offers optional headlights featuring Matrix LED technology, which sets design and technology benchmarks. The high-beam comprises 25 individual light-emitting diodes per unit that can be switched on and off or dimmed individually depending on the situation.

"This enables the system to react precisely to other vehicles while always brightly illuminating the road. The system includes ‘intelligent’ cornering lights, new-look daytime running lights and dynamic (diodes illuminating in quick sequence from number plate to wing) turn signals.

"The system uses predictive route data from the navigation system to adjust the distribution of light in response to the current driving situation. In combination with the standard Navigation plus with MMI touch, the system recognises route data contained in the navigation system, such as curves and road classifications.”

Smart, huh?

ONLY V8 DIESEL

The rear LED lights have been manicured to be flatter; the rear bumper redesigned to house two rectangular exhaust pipes; chromed strips and gloss-black frames round off the design details.

Not only have the cars been made about 40% lighter but their engines have been given more grunt and Audi says it is the only automaker in SA to offer a V8 diesel in the D-segment.

Eventually, overall, Audi will have the A8 normal and long-wheelbase models in SA with a choice of two petrol and four diesel engines. Two of the latter two are...

  • A “highly efficient” V6 3.0 TDI quattro clean diesel - 190kW / 580Nm
    and a
  • 4.2 V8 TDI quattro clean diesel - 283kW - 850 Nm

...which require ultra low-sulphur diesel.

The S8, when it gets here, will only available in normal wheelbase, the performance data of its 4.0 TFSI engine unchanged at 382kW / 650Nm for a 4.2sec 0-100 launch. Taking a lead from Chrysler, perhaps, four of the eight cylinders will be shut down when the engine is not under load, helping towards a claimed fuel consumption figure of 10.1 litres/100km.

In May will come the A8 L W12 quattro. Its 12-cylinder petrol engine is particularly short and light thanks to its ‘W’ design – three longitudinal parallel banks of four cylinders each making 368kW / 625Nm with a claimed best-in-class fuel consumption of 11.7 litres/100km, also helped by cylinder deactivation, thought this time six of 12.

GOBBLING THE PASSES

An eight-speed tiptronic transmission is standard across the A8 range, though a sport differential is an option (though standard on the S8 and A8 4.2 TDI quattro clean diesel). Air suspension is another option.

The revised engines in the launch cars proved so powerful on the launch drive and the suspension so superior that the five-metre cars gobbled up several Western Cape mountain passes like upmarket hot hatches.

The cabins are more aeroplane than automobile – apt, perhaps, given their speed potential – with banks of subtly-lit instrumentation and controls and a large data screen. Can’t immediately think of any luxury item that is not included – but then one would expect that from a car that, depending on spec, can cost way, way more than a million bucks.

The LWB units take luxury to extremes of comfort and privacy with powered one-way blinds side and rear, power seats and an entertainment centre that includes two LED displays, Bluetooth headphones and a DVD changer with separate hard drive for storing music and video.

Internet/email communication is there on demand but check the Audi A8 website for all details and options (we wanted to publish the link but the site is still being built - meanwhile, read more on Wheels24.co.za.

Full specifications:
Audi A8 3.0 TDI quattro Tiptronic
Audi A8 4.2 TDI quattro
Audi A8 4.2 TDI LWB quattro



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Read more on:    audi  |  south africa  |  western cape  |  car launch

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