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2011-04-14 14:34

PLUS THREE: Audi's local A8 range now includes a mix of six- and eight-cylinder powerplants, including the only turbodiesel V8 in its segment.

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Audi
Model A8
Engine 3.0 TFSI V6; 3.0 TDI; 4.2 TDI V8
Power 213 kW from 4850 to 6500 rpm; 184 kW ; 258 kW
Torque 420 Nm between 2500 and 4850 rpm; 550 Nm between 1500 and 3000 rpm; 800 Nm between 1750 and 2750 rpm
Transmission eight-speed tiptronic
Zero To Hundred 6,1; 6,1; 5,5
Top Speed 250 (electronically governed)
Fuel Tank 90 litre
Fuel Consumption 9,1 l/100 km; 6,6 l/100 km; 7,6 l/100 km
Steering Power steering with speed-dependent power assistance
ABS with ESP, brake booster; hydraulic brake assist
Front Suspension Five-link front suspension, upper and lower wishbones, tubular anti-roll bar, air suspension
Rear Suspension Trapezoidal-link suspension with wishbones, tubular anti-roll bar, air suspension


After tentatively dipping a finger into the cut-throat luxury market with the launch of its 4.2 V8 A8 in August 2010 and tasting great success, Audi’s unleashed a charge of additional power-hungry derivatives on the local market.

As befits a car of the A8’s stature within the Audi SA line-up, the importer was not shy to haul out the big guns. Adding some excitement to the otherwise sombre A8 experience are the supercharged 3.0T FSI (familiar to A6 drivers), the versatile 3.0 TDI and – as a first in this segment – V8 turbodiesel shove compliments of a 4.2 TDI unit.

It’s true, too, that all models are fitted with quattro all-wheel drive as standard, along with eight-speed tiptronics. So there’s nothing to it, except to hop in and drive, of course.


The entry-level model, with the supercharged V6 engine was a very pleasant surprise. Not that it should have been, given how sweet this motor seemed on its first introduction here in the facelifted A6 in 2009. In the A8, it feels completely unencumbered by this sedan’s larger body and marches to its rhythm of 213kW and 420Nm with perfect ease.

It’s easy to forget the A8 is actually a very large car. It is, after all, more than five metres long and two metres wide; not that you’d say from the cabin given the eagerness of the assorted powerplants. Audi’s aluminium space frame (ASF) construction helps though, by making mincemeat of the regular weight saving argument – the company reckons this A8 is about 40% lighter than a comparative steel-bodied car...

Moving on, the faithful 3.0TDI that is a mainstay in the upper end of the Audi family does not disappoint in the A8 either. Its 550Nm of torque is available from 1500 rpm, so it really is very effortless. And it’s quiet, too, which means the standard stop-start system fitted to this model is very noticeable in slow-going situations, a scenario that may not be as entertaining to some. It can be turned off, though.

At the top of the scale, the eight-cylinder TDI with 258kW and a thumping 800Nm on tap certainly feels more urgent than its siblings, although it was as happy to cruise along the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands route as the rest, too.

SPORTS DIESEL: The 4.2 TDI has serious sporting pretensions, which it backs up with Audi's sports differential for when you really want to have some fun.

As the range-topper alongside the petrol V8, the eight-cylinder turbodiesel comes with additional features including the quattro sports differential and 19-inch wheels as standard. Quicker sections of the route allowed us to exploit the sports diff somewhat, although the knowledge that you’re steering a car weighing in excess of 2.5 tonne is never too far off so one does tend to be a little more cautious. And this model has some balls; it may be big-boned, but it will cover the 0-100km/h dash in a dizzying 5.5 seconds, Audi says...


Mad dashes aside: that the entire A8 range feels solid and stable at speed, and earnest and cosseting at all other times, is undeniable.

It was noted that the A8’s cabin is not a bad place to pass the time. Luxuriously appointed with soft finishes and leather everything, along with the latest generation of Audi’s MMI to control heating, cooling, audio and the whole lot in between, it takes some of the hassle out of driving an extra-large car.

In this segment, there’s no question that a long list of standard equipment is expected, and the A8s don’t disappoint. Prospective owners can look forward to adaptive air suspension with Audi drive select, xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, park distance control and power closing doors for that distinguished touch.

CLASSY CABIN: Befitting a car of this standard, the A8's cabin contains most everything that opens and shuts. It's nice and quiet, too.

The cabin has generous burr walnut inlays, a Bose audio system, electric front seats with heating and memory, four-zone Climatronic and, for extra privacy, an electric rear shade.

Options include an entertainment system for those seated on the rear seats, full LED headlights, an electric solar sunroof to keep a parked car’s interior temperature down, 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound and TV reception.

The mix of six- and eight cylinders means the A8 line-up misses the out-and-out big-hitting V12s offered by competitors Mercedes-Benz and BMW, but Audi SA reckons this measured approach and the resultant lower-price points stand the local A8 range in good stead for a larger share of the upper D-segment.

The range is complete, for now, although an S8 model should be revealed in 2012 while a long-wheelbase A8 is being considered for the South African market, too.  

PRICES (including emissions tax and Audi’s Freeway Plan):
3.0 TFSI quattro tiptronic  -  R918 000
3.0 TDI quattro tiptronic  -  R924 500
4.2 FSI quattro tiptronic  -  R1 105 905 (introduced August, 2010)

4.2 TDI quattro tiptronic  -  R1 121 500


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