First Look: 2012 Audi A8 TDI – Review and Report

By Jonathan Spira on 25 August 2012
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There are some associations you can’t shake.  For me, one of them is the decision by then German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder to dispense with tradition and choose an Audi A8 for his official car (until that point, a Mercedes-Benz sedan had always served in this capacity).  As a result, even though the current chancellor, Angela Merkel, alternates between various German brands, I still think of the A8 as the Kanzlerwagen (the chancellor’s car).

The Audi A8 first appeared in Europe in 1994 as the successor to the Audi V8, although it did not make it to the U.S. until the 1997 model year.  The current (third) generation A8 was unveiled in 2009 and went on sale in late 2010 as a 2011 model.

In European markets, the A8 comes with a choice of four diesel engines, two petrol engines, and a hybrid version.  In addition there’s a long-wheelbase model, an S8 sport variant, and the A8 L W12 6.3 FSI, which is the long version with a 12-cylinder 6.3-liter engine.

U.S. buyers currently get three choices, the standard and long-wheelbase versions with the 4.2-liter V-8 petrol engine and the A8 L W12 6.3 FSI.  Soon, however, there will be a fourth choice, a diesel powered variant.

In an interview with The Diesel Driver earlier this year, Wayne Killen, Audi’s head of strategy and product manager for the A8, said that the A8 TDI that arrives in the U.S. in 2013 will have a revised V-6 engine.   The updated engine will have more horsepower and torque and further refinements in technology, he went on to say.

To see what’s in store for 2013, TDD European Editor Christian Stampfer and I drove an A8 TDI from Audi’s headquarters in Ingolstadt to Geneva, stopping in Munich on the way.  We’ll have a separate report on the drive shortly.

THE ENGINE

Our A8 3.0 TDI quattro was equipped with a 3.0-liter V-6 engine that develops 250 horsepower (184 kW) and 406 pound-feet (550 Nm) of torque.  The engine is an updated version of Audi’s V-6, mated to an eight-speed automatic and quattro permanent all-wheel drive.  The suspension is a combination of air springs and dynamic dampers.  The Servotronic rack-and-pinion steering is speed dependent.

The 406 pound-feet of torque made passing, hill-climbing, and general acceleration a non-issue.  There was no detectable turbo lag when accelerating.

The Drive Select feature allows the driver to select adjustment of the suspension, throttle, transmission, and steering.

From a safety standpoint, in addition to the front, side, and curtain airbags, Audi includes pre-sense technology that anticipates a collision and takes steps to protect vehicle occupants by closing windows (this gives more support to the curtain airbags among other things), closing the sunroof (in case of a rollover), tensioning the seatbelts, and switching on the hazard lights.

The base price in Germany is €73,600.  Our quartz gray A-8 came well equipped at that price with 18” tires with 7-spoke wheels and a host of standard features.

Click here to continue to Page 2Interior, Infotainment, and Bottom Line

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