This week, I was given my first car, and what a first car it is! It is powerful, comfortable, cool, and loaded with toys that I will probably never use. I've spent the last few days getting to know the car, and every second I drive it, or sit in it, or look at it, it grows on me more. The car's original owner selected every option available on the car when it was new, and it has been meticulously maintained for the last 13 years. And now, it has been passed on to me. Worry not, though. I don't plan to trash it or abuse it or even be remotely careless with it. I plan to take care of it like a member of the family. Here's what I've learned after my first week with the fastest, most powerful, and most expensive (original MSRP) car my family has ever owned.
The A8L is a handsome car, in my opinion. It looks dignified and important, the way a big German luxury barge should. It also looks somewhat imposing, given its large dimensions and upright, squarish front end. The optional 18" alloy wheels add to the exterior, and, when clean they are like big, round mirrors. However, this is by no means a beautiful car, nor is it a particularly cool looking one. There are a few reasons for this. One, I think it could visually do with a tiny bit more front and rear overhang. I don't know why, but it just seems like it would suit the car better. Secondly, it is beige. The very antithesis of an interesting color, the color of choice for hearing aids and generic suburban houses. I would've preferred almost any other color, but hey, beggars can't be choosers. Lastly, the styling itself, although suitably dignified and restrained, is a little boring. It looks exactly like the smaller A6 and A4. It won't turn heads the way a Jaguar XJ or a Mercedes S-Class will, and that's okay with me. It means less attention from the police, who would like nothing more than to stop a 16 year-old guy driving a big, fancy looking car.
This is where the A8 really shines. The interior is in excellent shape. The seats are very comfortable, but firmer than you might expect from such a big barge. I like this, because I am not yet old enough to be burdened with backache. Everything feels very high-quality. And there's toys. Lots and lots of toys. All this wrapped up in a big, comfortable package. It does lose point in the same place every German interior loses point: the cup holders. Yes, they are heated, but there's only one in the front, and the space where the other on should be is occupied by the GPS controls, which means if you spill any of your drink, you ruin the car's entire electrical system, as a fellow Jalop warned me. So there's basically nowhere to put drinks in the front.
This may seem a little high for a car that was not designed with quarter mile sprints or track days in mind. But what they did have in mind when the dropped the 4.2 liter V8 in the front was the Autobahn. This engine produces 310 horsepower and 302 lbs/ft of torque, which is good enough for a 0-60 time of around 6.7 seconds, and, like all German cars, an electronically limited 155mph top speed. I am fairly confident, however, that without the limiter, it could go faster. As I said, their are lots and lots of cars that will outrun the A8. But for a 16 year old driver, whose friends are mostly driving olds Jeeps and pickups, or Toyota Corollas, this thing is a rocket ship.
I have no idea what the 60-0 stopping distance of this car is. What I do know is that it has 4 ventilated disk brakes with ABS, and big, fat, brand-new tires. As far as the actual performance 0f the brakes, well, I haven't hit anything yet, so they can't be that bad. What I do know is that, because of dust on the rotors or something, the brakes screech. A lot. In fact, it sounds like a train pulling in to a station.
Once again, the A8 rides a little more firmly than I was expecting for a full-sized German luxury cruiser. It's by no means harsh, just a little sportier than one might think. That's good, because it means you can have fun in this car confidently. And responsibly, of course. When you aren't testing out the capabilities of the chassis, AWD, and steering, the A8 rides supremely well. It never jolts you or allows you to feel the vibrations of the road. This may make it a little less of a driver's car, but it makes it joyously wonderful to drive home in after a long, stressful day, or to cruise in at 80mph on the interstate. Also, it thankfully does not have air suspension, like its successor, or I would very shortly be bankrupt, as this car didn't have a Carmax warranty.
Before I start on this, I should say that the steering in the A8 feels excellent. It turns with little effort, yet it isn't too floaty. The Quattro AWD and fat summer tires also keeps this car feeling firmly planted, even when you hustle it along. Keep in mind, though, that while it may be sportier than I was expecting, it is still a large car designed for comfort, not cornering. Push it too hard into a corner and the tires will squeal, letting you know that you really shouldn't be engaging in such hooliganism, sir. It will corner, and corner quickly if it has to, but it is no Mazda Miata.
The A8L gets Audi's 5-speed Tiptronic shiftable automatic. It shifts smoothly enough, and allows you to do quite a bit of revving before it clicks up. Still, while it does technically let you select your own gears, it's not a manual, or a six speed, so it won't score any higher.
There are toys. It has power seats with 4-person memory, and all 4 seats and all 3 cup holders are heated. It also has a primitive turn-by-turn GPS system, a power rear sunshade, an in-car phone more primitive than the GPS, power seat belts (the good kind), a full-sized matching spare wheel, and the loudest horn this side of a Mercedes Grosser. And judging by the number of buttons, there's a lot more toys that I have yet to discover.
The A8 has a single-disc CD changer in the dash, and a 6-disc changer in the trunk for a grand total of 7 CD's, plus one for the GPS. It also has something called a cassette player, AM/FM radio, an iPod hookup, and a mount for Sirius satellite radio. And the Bose premium speakers are excellent. As for the other type of audio, the engine provides a lovely soundtrack when you want it to, and remains very quiet when you don't.
This car cost around $70,000 new, and had every available option. Since then, it has done just over 114,000 miles, and has seen two previous owners, both of home took perfect care of the car. It has new tires, a fresh synthetic oil change, a new air injection system, and a clean bill of health from two different mechanic's shops. And the cost of this beauty? $7,000, almost exactly one tenth of the original sticker. Even with German cars being notoriously expensive to work on, that is a pretty good deal in my opinion.
Well, there you have it. One lucky, spoiled kid's review of a big old Audi sedan. Now, if you'll excuse me, I just finished my last day of sophomore year, the weather is great, and I am going to go for a drive.
*Note: All of the above photos were taken by me, using a potato.