In 1994 Audi wasn’t the fully fledged luxury brand it is today. It was more a poor man’s BMW or Mercedes alternative, however the A8 changed all that and Audi hasn’t looked back since. Flash forward to 2014 and we have the new 3rd generation 2014 Audi A8 model. Is it still the dynamic game changer in this top of the range segment?
The 2014 Audi A8 is the biggest and most advanced luxury saloon that Audi has to offer. There are many things that make this car special – it’s smarter, with powerful yet more efficient engines. It’s also hands down the best place to witness the cutting edge of Audi’s development – honestly this here is the showcase vehicle for everything Audi can do with technology. Which is a hell of a lot.
The A8 has always been an understated looker. Quite the opposite to flashier, status symbol rivals in this class. There is a cool elegance to the way the new 2014 Audi A8 looks. It’s more sculpted and hints at subtle elegance through clever detailing, such as the beautiful yet intelligent MatrixBeam LED headlights (more on those later). Shape-wise it also boasts class leading length, width and low ride height. That being said, it isn’t too far removed from the looks of a large A4 on the outside, but on the inside… well that’s a different story entirely.
With a veritable smorgasbord of sumptuous trims, options and tech available, you are sure to be able to deck it out in pretty much any way you care to imagine. As long as you can afford it. The chances are if you can afford the cost of an 2014 Audi A8 then this won’t be much of a problem. When getting in the back there is a beautiful interior quality that envelopes you in measured luxury. It’s like being in a Galaxy chocolate advert with a silky smooth voiceover telling you how delicious and decadent it is. There are some great features here such as electric sun blinds, panoramic glass roof, heated seats, adjustable seating, lights and air con – most of which can be operated from the central fold down armrest as you sink into the deliciously soft head rests. It is also worth opting for the longer body style which gives you an additional 120mm of rear leg room. There are many lovely optionals should you feel like decking your A8 out in the manner befitting a multi-national CEO or the leader of a country. Your driver, Jeeves, will also have a great time in the front of the Audi A8 where the subtle opulence continues to radiate with lovely craftsmanship combined with clever tech. The leather trimmed, multi-functional steering wheel lies before the smart dials which you’ll never have to look at because you will likely have optioned for the HUD (heads up display) feature that projects all important driving information onto the lower windscreen as you’re driving. The beautiful aeronautical gear lever makes you feel like you’re piloting a lot more than a car and a clever touchpad on the central console allows you to trace letters and such with your finger for inputting commands. The latest version of the MMi infotainment system glides up from the dashboard to allow you access to many of the controls that Audi have kept to a minimum in order to keep the cabin clear of clutter. Going into the boot (which can actually be opened with a wave of your foot underneath the bumper if you’ve got your hands full) there is a class-leading amount of boot space at 520ltrs, except if you have the Hybrid version of the Audi A8 , which will eat into your boot space for a total of 335ltrs due to storing electrical mechanics.
The 2014 Audi A8 has stuck to its recipe and improved on the underpinnings of a NASA derived super-light aluminium space frame (40% lighter than a comparable steel frame) which allows for a Quattro 4WD setup – both of which are unique to this car within the segment. To drive the A8, you will experience top of the range refinement and luxury. It feels solid and reassuring no matter what. There is lots of excellent soundproofing which results in a whisper quiet ride which when combined with its air suspension; allows you to sit back and simply enjoy the ride. An interesting point about this car is that while the air suspension is good, it feels better and more noticeable the harder you go with the Audi A8. There is Audi’s Drive Select chassis tuning system which allows you to alter and configure the throttle and gear change speeds between 5 modes to suit what you want out of it at any time. There are some clever handling dynamics involved due to the sports differential which distributes power optimally in the rear wheels during tight corners, literally pushing the car through. Another great feature is the COD (cylinder on demand) system which improves economy astronomically by shutting down 4 cylinders while cruising at low to mid speeds. These are immediately reactivated whenever you need to put your foot down. There are so many clever optionals to give you the very best driving experience – the most notable being the incredible clever-clogs MatrixBeam LED headlights which can stay on full beam at all times. How you ask? Well, it uses a camera to detect other cars and will automatically dim the lights in clusters as they approach. It doesn’t stop here though as they also detect pedestrians and animals, giving small pulses to warn of the cars approach. Handy right?
Under the bonnet, there are some very tempting engines on offer. They’ve always been good engines, but they now have increased power output and economy. This allows for a 2 tonne diesel limo that can reach 62mph from standing in under 5 seconds! That is some serious muscle; and that’s exactly what the desirable 4.2ltr TDi does. It’s unique in the way that it offers up a V8 diesel engine in a segment where elsewhere you’d have to go for a large luxury SUV for that kind of engine. There’s also the 3ltr TDi (0-62 in 5.9 seconds) and a couple of petrol units – the 3ltr TFSi supercharged V6 (0-62 in 5.7 seconds) and the 4.2 twin-turbo FSi V8 (0-62 in 4.6 seconds). At the top of the range you’ve got the mighty S8 sports saloon with its 4.0ltr twin-turbo V8 engine which does 0-62 in a thunderous 4.1 seconds. All models are artificially restrained at 155mph but it’s fair to say you’ve got some fantastic engines here. They’ve all improved in economy too which is a great bonus. There is also the option for the efficient 2014 Audi A8 hybrid model which combines a 2.0ltr TFSi engine with a 40kw electric motor giving 0-62 in 7.7 seconds up to a top speed of 146mph. The hybrid is also the only Audi A8 model to not come with Quattro 4WD. It’s a nifty idea to go hybrid, but you do find yourself arguing whether this is a real A8.
All in all, what have we got here with 2014 Audi A8? The 3rd generation Audi A8 has been improved and re-refined on the successfully tried and tested formula that made it the Audi game changer back in ‘94. The aluminium space frame, Quattro 4WD, limitless options, new industry leading headlight technology, COD efficiency and a range of powerful engines make this a formidable contender in this top level segment. The Audi A8 is certainly an impressive machine that showcases the best that Audi has to offer. However, the key thing with this car is its lovability factor. When you compare the Audi A8 to a Mercedes S-Series, a BMW 7 Series or a classy wood panelled Jag… Well, you just don’t quite get the same character defining aspect about it. It’s a fantastic performer and ticks so many boxes yet it can come across a bit like a high functioning robot. This may deter some buyers, but others will probably appreciate the more understated approach to ultimate refinement. Either way, this is a competitor and it will certainly do well for boardroom executives and the like.
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