The Audi A8 L has that soft and classic feel in every aspect. It’s rich and soothing like most Indian classical music instruments, something like the soul-lifting sound of the sarod. It echoes in the gentle thrum of the engine, as the eight-speed transmission strums through the ratio, playing a classical raga. With no wind noise to adulterated the ambience and a faint road noise for company. Even the suspension mutes the harshness of the road, careful not to disturb the musical atmosphere, as you sit cocooned in the luxurious cabin enjoying the sublime experience.
The interior of this limousine is equally exquisite, crafted for uber-premium taste, with the dashboard featuring a constellation of gadgets. Intricately detailed, but without being overcrowded or confusing. The gear selector resembles an aircraft’s throttle lever, where the driver can rest his wrist to play around with the various functions. The screen of the multi-media interface (MMI) slides out elegantly from the dash and is controlled by a simple scrolland-click wheel. There’s even a cool touch-pad with handwriting recognition for programming functions. The seats are exceptionally comfortable and accommodating; they can be adjusted in more ways than most people can imagine. It won’t be surprising if the initial 10 minutes are spent on discovering highly innovative seat positions.
India has a prominent position in Audi’s growth plan and their seriousness is clearly visible in the long list of variants offered for their flagship model. Starting with the petrol-powered V8 4.2 FSI, capable of 371 PS and 445 Nm, then there’s the more pragmatic and most popular with diesel-loving Indians – 250 PS and 550 Nm, 3.0 TDI oil-burner. There is also the insanely powerful, though not the favourite of eco-warriors, 6,299 cc W12 that can churn out a stunning 500 PS and 625 Nm!
But today we are talking about the latest iteration: the Audi A8 L 4.2 T D I . What the new variant plans to do is offer the practicality of 3.0 T D I , with a hefty topping of adrenaline rush. Zero to 100 km/h in a lightning-fast 5.81 seconds. That’s over a second faster than the petrol supercharged 4.2 FSI, while still stretching a litre of diesel for n km on the highway and eight km within the city, giving it a very decent average of 8.75 kpl. You don’t associate such performance figures with a fully-bred luxury saloon that turns your neighbours a distinct envy-green. A lot of credit goes to the very slick eight-speed triptronic transmission for the efficiency and performance. It was eager to go beyond true 225 km/h in about 20 seconds, but, unfortunately, we ran out of road.
Drive it, and you are besieged by the omnipresent 800 Nm of torque, making it effortless within the city and a force to reckon with on open roads. The dynamic steering weighs up well during higher speeds, though it remains easy and light while cruising. Despite its massive size, the A8 L will surprise you with its agility, thanks to the use of lightweight and ultra-strong aluminium body and well balanced axle load distribution. The A8 features quattro four-wheel drive with a distinctly sporty rear-biased character, enhancing the limousine’s driveability. Moreover, the air suspension has been tailored for India as it irons out most road undulations. Even if you play around with the Audi ‘drive select’ system to alter the suspension damping, gear changes and throttle response to make it more sporty, the A8 still remains surprisingly subtle and planted.
A lot of attention has been paid to rear-seat comfort. It can be adjusted individually and recline enough to make it suitable for a quick nap. The optional elegantly styled centre console offers a large storage compartment and controls for the ventilation and massage functions. If you tick-mark more boxes while booking the A8 L, you can also get features like a folding table, a cool refrigerator and a high-end Bang & Olufsen music system. Apart from these, the Audi comes with a pre-sense safety system that reduces the severity of an accident.
In India the A8 L 4.2 T D I retails for Rs 1.30 crore (ORT, Pune), which is about Rs 17 lakh more than the 3.0 TDI and roughly Rs 1.5 lakh more than the 4.2 FSI. The A8 L personifies luxury on wheels and if you often get behind the wheels of this saloon, then this premium is a small amount for the immeasurable joy the 4.2 T D I can offer.