In a world besotted with SUVs, and now EVs, a new sedan is like a breath of fresh air these days. The new sedan in this case happens to be the flagship from Ingolstadt, the new A8, which makes its debut in the long-wheel base version. Sensibly, I should add, considering the buyers for these cars are usually driven around. Has Audi done enough to excite buyers, and more importantly, draw them away from the updated S-Class and the upcoming 7-Series?
The A8L has always been an understated car when it comes to looks. Clearly, someone felt it was time to change, and the new A8L comes with a lot of chrome. The massive, shiny grille has chrome studs, and there is some more below the grille, stretching across the front. Too blingy? Not really, as it gives the car a slightly imposing look up front. The party trick on the outside is the digital Matrix headlamps, with 1.3 million micromirrors no less, with fantastic throw and spread. The digital part gives you multiple choices for light play when locking and unlocking the car, fun stuff for your Instagram if you are into all that. The Rear gets digital OLED lights, plus a strip of chrome, with options of different light play as well. Overall, the refreshed look works well and gives the A8L a good road presence.
The interiors are classic Audi, minimalist but luxurious. There is everything you expect — dual screens, virtual cockpit, and high-quality switches — but it is the slim aircon vents that are unique, as they are motorised. Audi offers a ton of personalisation options for those who may find this interior a bit staid. The approach seems to be more focused on comfort than making it exciting, and that’s a good route in this segment.
One thing you cannot complain about in the A8L is space. There is a lot of it and there is a reason why the seat behind the front passenger is called the Boss seat. With an optional relaxation package, the Boss seat truly earns its moniker. With the press of a button, a rather long one at that, the front passenger moves all the way ahead, the rear entertainment screen adjusts to an optimum angle, there is a fantastic foot massager, a 17-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system, ambient lighting and more. A tablet controls all the important functions and the rear entertainment can be connected to Wi-fi, in case the traffic is making you miss your favourite show. Cocooned in luxury, I doubt you will care about plebian stuff like traffic though.
The luxury isn’t limited to creature comforts, as there is a creamy 3.0-litre V6 turbo-petrol engine under the hood, which makes 340hp and 500Nm. This may not sound impressive in today’s world, but a 0-100 time of 5.7 seconds is, for a full-size luxury sedan. The performance is in line with the overall philosophy of the car, comfort over aggression. Triple- digit speeds are a breeze, but there is no drama. I would have liked the rear-wheel steering to be standard; it is an option, since the A8L is a big car to manoeuvre. The adaptive air suspension wows you when you approach the car, the car rises every time to make ingress easy, and aids in making the ride quality better too. Not many filters inside this cabin, and the comfort is truly next level. While this is not an all-new A8L, Audi has done what it needed to make the car more competitive in this segment. Despite being a CBU, Audi has kept prices competitive with the A8L priced from Rs 1.29-1.57cr, ex-showroom.
Some of the optional equipment like Matrix lights, predictive air suspension, and the relaxation package as standard would have given the A8L an edge over the competition. If you find something missing, like ADAS, don’t lose hope as some features should come in the full model change, whenever it happens. Till then, the A8L is a competent option for those who want a car that looks and feels expensive, while being tremendously comfortable.
Images: Audi India