2013 Audi A8L 3.0T Road Test Review

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Audi's parent company, Volkswagen, is well known for getting a tremendous amount of work out of smaller engines. For the 2013 model year, a manifestation of this philosophy has migrated into the top model of its luxurious Audi brand as well. The company's A8 flagship now cradles a V6 powerplant in its engine bay for the first time in its history.

Oh, and one more thing-something many of you may have forgotten, the Audi A8, which was the first all-aluminum luxury sedan on the market remains one of the only all-aluminum luxury sedans on the market. Combining lightweight construction, supercharging, direct fuel injection, and variable valve timing with a strong contingent of state of the art comfort and convenience tech gear, Audi's flagship is a technological standout.

As tech-oriented as the Audi A8 is, its interior retains an organically endearing sense of warmth as well. The appointments are all composed of authentic materials; supple leather, highly polished exotic woods and genuine aluminum lace the environment in a gloriously palatial manner. The standard feature set for our A8L 3.0T tester included a power glass sunroof, adaptive Xenon plus headlamps, LED daytime running lights, plush leather seats, power rear and side-window sunshades, and keyless entry with pushbutton start. The car also included Audi's MMI infotainment system with navigation, a rearview camera, and a Bose Surround audio system, all for $91,895 including freight for the regular wheelbase version or $99,395 in long-wheelbase L trim, as tested.

Regarding audio, the A8's optional 1,400-watt, 19-speaker Bang and Olufsen system wows passengers with retractable tweeters that emerge from the dash when the system is activated-in addition to some of the best sound quality you'll ever experience in an automobile.

As regards source material for entertainment, if it currently exists the A8 is equipped to handle it. These days dedicated iPod connectivity is a given in this class, so the A8 also features a USB port, an aux audio input port, Bluetooth audio streaming, two SD card slots, a six-disc DVD/CD changer, and a 20-gig hard drive. BTW, since the Audi is configured to serve as a Wi-Fi hotspot and maps for the nav system are downloaded over a 3G connection from Google Earth, you'll never have to worry about updating your navigation system again.

Audi's Multimedia Interface (MMI) has long been lauded as the most intuitive of the new generation of dial-and-monitor systems used to actuate comfort and convenience features. With this new A8, MMI is even farther ahead of the competition thanks to MMI Touch. Placed to the left of the MMI dial on the A8's centre console is a touchpad that can be used to input a destination into the navigation system, call up contacts for the communications system, and access the presets for the radio.

On the mechanical side of the house, the 3.0-litre, 333-horsepower, supercharged V6 engine produces 325 ft-lbs of torque. Its power flows through an eight-speed automatic transmission before it is routed to all four wheels.

Renowned for outstanding traction and road holding, Audi's all-wheel drive (Quattro) system has been updated for this application as well. In normal mode, its output has been biased to transmit sixty percent of the engine's torque to the rear wheels. This endows the A8 with the tractable benefits of all-wheel drive, while retaining the highly coveted rear-drive feel and handling traits.

While some might be worried that fitting a V6 engine to a car of this size might hamstring its performance potential, the reality of the situation is quite the opposite. Keep in mind aluminum construction endows the A8 with considerable lightness compared to most of its competitors. When it comes to performance-oriented driving, you can easily rip along in the A8 3.0T as if it were an S4-if you choose to do so. In fact, the A8's 3.0T supercharged V6 is the exact same engine that Audi's engineers use in the high performance S4 and S5 models.

Audi's product people quote a 5.5-second run to 100km/h with the V6. Our testing bore this out handily. Further, Audi estimates the 2013 A8L 3.0T's fuel economy to be 12.4 L/100km in the city and 7.6 on the highway. We averaged some 10.2 L/100km in our mix of highway cruising, around town trundling, and back road running.

It's been said all boats float in a rising tide. The level of tech combined with the luxury and performance with which Audi has infused the 2013 A8 means all the other cars in this category will have to now step up their games to match. Thanks to Audi's A8 3.0T, the tide is running higher than ever.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Luxury Sedan, Audi, 2013, A8 L, $75,000 - $99,999, Full-size,

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