Sitting in the front of the Audi A8 L W12 quattro is not unlike travelling first class on a good airline. Admittedly, there isn’t a lady in a hat handing out champagne when I enter the Audi, nor any complimentary nuts or newspaper, but sinking into the cockpit is most definitely a first-class experience.
The first thing you notice when you step inside the Audi and fire up the massive 6.3-litre W12 engine is the silence. Even with the double panoramic sunroof and the acoustic insulating windows open, there is very little noise inside the car.
Despite its size – the extended wheelbase version is just over 5.2 metres long and almost two metres wide – and the aforementioned engine, the A8 L is a gentle giant. Like a tame bear, or a retired boxer, the A8 is capable of extreme violence when provoked (in this case by switching the drive mode to ‘dynamic’ and hitting the gas) but for the most part it offers a solid yet agile ride that epitomises driving comfort.
The Audi has got your back in more ways than one. When the proximity alert is activated, a light on each wing mirror flashes when there’s a car in your blind spot.
The 360-degree parking sensors, cameras and parallel park assist make parking the substantial car a breeze, and Audi’s state-of-the-art navigation system removes the hassle out of exploring unknown neighbourhoods. Which is good, because driving it is a joy that should be savoured.
Yes, the A8 is unquestionably the most comfortable car I have ever driven. It’s not just the incredibly smooth ride and forgiving adaptive air suspension, nor is it the soft hand-stitched leather steering wheel with tiptronic controls for the eight-speed gearbox.
It’s not only the intuitive onboard technology, the rear windshield sunshade that springs up with the touch of a button or the Bluetooth smartphone connectivity.
No, it’s not just those things. It’s also the fact that the A8 has a built-in massage function in both the front and rear seats – a multi-function, directional massage system that kneads and squeezes your back as it slumps into the plush Valcona leather seats, which are also fitted with in-chair heating and cooling devices. That’s what does it for me.
Passengers in the A8 have as much to enjoy as the driver. The AC and entertainment controls in the front are replicated in the back, discreetly tucked away in the armrest, meaning back-seat drivers can be lords of their own AV kingdom, which includes seat-back screens and a DVD changer, supported by a Bang & Olufsen Advance sound system.
It’s the little touches that make it so perfect. The ambient interior lighting is remarkable – reminiscent of the Boeing Sky Interior concept on Boeing’s latest aircraft. The aviation similarities don’t end with the lighting. Like flying at the front of the plane, travelling in the Audi makes the destination seem largely incidental; it’s the journey itself that will be the most memorable part of your trip.
No, you will never hurry to your destination when you are behind the wheel (or sat in the back seat) of the A8. It is not a car you are in a rush to drive. If time is luxury then buying the A8 will be an indulgent affair, since time seems to slow down when you’re inside, allowing you to savour the experience and the calm, luxurious environment within.
NUTS AND BOLTS
Engine: W12 6.3 FSI quattro
Power: 500 bhp (at 6200 rpm)
Torque: 625 Nm
0-100kph: 4.7 sec
Top speed: 250 kph (limited)
Emissions: 299 g/km
Cost: from AED 533,500 (US $145,246)