Audi Über Alles

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All photos courtesy Audi of America

The new A8 L reigns supreme in the realm of luxury sedans.

Some manufacturers have made it easy to distinguish their various models either by name, letter or number. And so it is with Audi. Their sedans start with the letter “A,” and the SUVs with the letter “Q” and then a number. Generally the smaller number reflects a lower price and smaller size. Our test model, the A8, is the largest and priciest Audi sedan. But with the letter “L” after A8, one could argue about its meaning. Does the “L” stand for “luxury” or “large” or “length” or “limousine”? Audi will tell you that the L stands for “length” because Audi has stretched the wheelbase and overall length over the standard A8.

Some would argue that the letter L should really stand for “limousine.” And going into the back seats reinforces that view. Legroom is enormous. The rear seats have multiple massage settings. The armrest with cup holders has a small removable video screen and buttons to adjust the two seats. In the ceiling, there are two drop- down video screens. Four air vents are spread around the interior, and the temperature can be controlled in the rear venue. And, of course, the rear windows have shades to hide the occupants from their throng of fans and the general public.

But this take does not detract from the driving experience of the owner/ chauffeur. The 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 develops 335 horsepower, and the eight-speed automatic trans- mission drives all four wheels. This combo moves this sedan right along with a 0-60 time 5.5 seconds. Perhaps more importantly, the powerplant is extremely quiet in normal operation, and the transmission gear changes are rarely felt. But the real limo spin is the ride, which is extremely smooth, and the suspension absorbs and handles the absolute worst of any pothole filled road. With big 20-inch tires and the relatively low stance, cornering is also controlled. A stop/start system at lights and full stops turns off the engine to save fuel. A battery/hybrid system assists in making the off and on of the engine less intrusive. Fuel mileage rating average is a reasonable 22 mpg.

Much like the rear area, the driving compartment has three, very large video screens. In the center of the dash are two long screens both of which are controlled by touch with a dial or two to help out. The top one highlights and handles all the major features and has an entertaining video camera screens that can be turned on in reverse or at low speed forward movement. One portion gives a 360-degree view, and other side offers a number of forward or rear views including a 3D-view around the car in its surroundings. Below that screen is another large one that handles climate issues. In the dashpod, the screen can show different views including a large map showing your exact location with graphics of the area, and also tons of data. Leather is everywhere with some wood inserts here and there.

And certainly the styling of the Audi A8 L reinforces that limo view. Long best describes the immediate reaction to this four-door sedan. Clearly, the large and broad Audi grille dominates the front, and, of course, the large rear doors reinforce that image. On the backside large chrome pieces and large exhaust pipes highlight that area. Generally, Honolulu residents reacted positively to the overall look.

Whatever you may think the “L” stands for, this Audi is a great island cruiser. Quiet, roomy and controllable would also be good descriptions.

AUDI A8 L

MODEL: 4- OR 5-PASSENGER, FOUR-DOOR SEDAN
POWERTRAIN: 3.0-LITER TURBOCHARGED V-6, 335 HP, 8-SPEED AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION, ALL-WHEEL DRIVE
PERFORMANCE: 0-60: 5.5 SECONDS
PRICE: BASE $83,800; AS TESTED $107,330
FUEL MILEAGE RATING: 22MPG

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