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Audi builds a Maybach rival

2010-04-16 08:27
Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Audi
Model A8 L
Engine 6.3l W12
Power 368kW
Torque 625Nm
Transmission Eight-speed auto
Zero To Hundred 4.9 sec
Top Speed 250km/h
Considering its stretched wheelbase A6 is an unmitigated sales success in China, it’s hardly surprising Audi’s chosen to unveil the new A8 long-wheel base at the Beijing motor show next week.

Audi stretched premium model doesn’t look all that different from its A8 siblings.

Loyal followers of the brand will notice the gloss-black grille embellished with horizontal bars, the chrome air-intake inserts and polished side mirrors are keynote differentiators. Another change is around A8 L's rear, where a pair of large trapezoidal outlets guide exhaust gasses into the atmosphere.

Styling is not this latest Audi showcar’s design intent though – unparalleled passenger comfort is.

To this end the Audi A8 L adds 130mm of spacing between the axles resulting in a generous 3.12m wheelbase and an overall lenght of 5.26m. Legroom then, is not an issue.

A8 L cabin is epic. Note the Ottoman-like footrest function enabled by moving the front passenger seat forward - the image is of a left-hand drive A8 L, obviously...

Maybach rivaling cabin?

Cabin appointments tie in well with this new A8’s long-wheel base limousine billing.

A full-length centre console makes sure the A8 L is a four-seater only (like all proper limousines should be) with the rear occupants benefitting from comprehensively adjustable individual powered seats which are also heated and ventilated for optimal comfort.

The car’s climate control is powered by no less than 25 motors and the full-length centre console contains a folding table and refrigeration unit for those impromptu in-car deal clinching celebrations.

Sumptuous Valonea leather trims the seat surfacing whilst a 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system (worth 1 400W) ensures peerless acoustic resonance of your favourite music of movie, the latter viewed on two 10.2-inch LCD screens.

Cabin digitisation is pretty comprehensive too.

Audi’s MMI interface is boosted with a new touch-sensitive function named (unsurprisingly) MMI touch. This feature enables the driver to input a navigation destination (or phone number) by simply tracing the corresponding letters or numbers onto the pad with a finger.

Trapezoidal  exhaust ends are a neat touch. A8 L naturally aspirated only for now, unlike its chief German rivals.

Should stop okay

The A8 L’s safety suite is enhanced with both adaptive cruise control (which self actuated the brakes with a collision pending) and thermal imaging night-view driver assist.

Boasting 400mm rotors hiding behind the front wheels and 356mm ones at the rear (bigger brakes than the Bugatti Veyron, if you’re interested in trivia), the A8 L’s engineered to stop pretty decently.

Powered by a 6.3l W12 engine the all-wheel drive A8 L should reward those owners who actually take the helm from time to time, instead of being chauffeured everywhere.

A VW group trademark, the narrow-head W-configuration engine is compact, light and efficient despite having 12-cylinders.

Naturally aspirated efficiency and pace

The W12 engine (which is shorter than a similar capacity V8 coincidently) features direct-fuel injection and produces 368kW of power and 625Nm of peak rotational force.

Driving all-four wheels via Audi’s latest ZF sourced eight-speed automatic transmission, the A8 L is claimed to accelerate from 0-100km/h in a hot-hatch crushing 4.9 seconds before buffering up against an electronically limited top speed of 250km/h.

Running an injection pressure of 130bar and a compression ratio of 11.8:1, Audi claims the A8 L should return average fuel consumption of 13.2l/100km.

Considering the increase in overall length and wheelbase the A8 L is obviously no R8 from a handling perspective, although it does feature adaptive air suspension and adjustable damping. Expect ride quality to be nearly faultless despite rolling on 255/45 rubber wrapped around 19-inch wheels.

Audi’s drive select system is onboard too and boasts four different settings.

These drive select control parameters are able to vary the throttle response, transmission shift regime, servotronic steering’s counterweight and the behaviour of – surprise, surprise – an optional rear active differential (seen locally on the S4). This trick differential caters specifically for those hooligan limousine drivers who require keener turn-in responses by actively splitting torque between the individual rear wheels.

Expect more details concerning the A8 L (for instance, its kerb weight) to be announced as the car makes it public debut at the Beijing auto show next week.

A point of cruel irony is of course the raft of Google features Audi and the U.S search engine giant collaborate on with regards to the A8, all of which are starkly unavailable in China...


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