2017 Audi A8 Review

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2017 Audi A8 Overview

The full-size luxury sedan market runs the gamut from the lavish to the performance-oriented. Cars like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class err on the side of the former, while the BMW 7 Series errs on the latter. Somewhere in the middle is the 2017 Audi A8 L. But the A8 delivers far more than a fetching full-size sedan that’s big on style and performance. This flagship ride benefits from Audi’s commitment to being one of the most technologically advanced luxury brands on the road today.

The 2017 model marks the sixth year of the third generation of the A8. Through these years, Audi has continually refined its flagship, adding more luxury content, technology, and efficiency. Available as trims are the 3.0T and 4.0T Sport. The 3.0T comes standard with features like plush leather upholstery, remote keyless entry with illuminated entry approach, a 14-speaker stereo, and Bluetooth hands-free connectivity. The 4.0T Sport adds a head-up display and blind-spot monitoring (both are optional on the 3.0T), as well as larger 20-inch silver aluminum wheels.

The A8 is at times available in short-wheelbase and long-wheelbase trims. For 2017, the A8 is only available in the long wheelbase or “L," featuring ample front and rear passenger space, including head and legroom. And that ample space comes in the form of an artfully styled cabin. The many standard and optional features are baked into a dash layout that is as ergonomic as it is visually pleasing.

Audi has long set the gold standard for in-car driver interfaces, and the cornerstone of that is its multimedia interface system, or MMI. Operated via an intuitive controller in the center console, MMI affords the driver seamless operation of the navigation, stereo, phone, and other features. Audi has evolved this system through the years, and drivers benefit from redundant digital and hard button controls for the various systems.

The 6-spot preset pad to the right of the main MMI controller turns into a gesture-recognition pad when needed. Instead of fiddling with the dial to enter letters, you can simply “draw” the letter on the pad with your finger. This allows for quick address and contact entry. For even quicker access to these features, simply press the voice-control button to speak verbal commands that MMI can understand.

MMI goes well beyond navigation and radio operation, as exemplified by the predictive headlight system. Using the navigation, MMI interacts with the active headlights so they bend with the road before the driver even turns the wheel, letting you can see ahead even in the darkest driving conditions.

An available Night Vision Assistant system also does exactly what it says, providing night vision with the ability to recognize animals and pedestrians and give the driver alerts.

A black optics pack is new for ’17 and features black exterior accents, darkened taillights, 20-inch 5-double-spoke wheels, and a titanium finish. An Executive package is available on the 3.0T, featuring a head-up display, Audi side assist (more on that later), and Audi pre-sense, which can detect an imminent collision and alert the driver.

Advances in powertrains have made it possible to downsize in displacement while still retaining all the thrilling performance. As such, the base engine for the ’17 A8 L is a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 making 333 hp. A V8 is also still available, a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged unit making 450 hp and 444 lb-ft of torque. Power is routed through an 8-speed automatic transmission to all-weather-capable quattro all-wheel drive. Fuel economy for the V6 is estimated at 19 mpg city/29 highway/22 combined. The 4.0T Sport returns an estimated 18/29/22.

For a vehicle that clocks in at more than 4,400 pounds, the Audi A8 delivers superb handling. It's the perfect blend of comfort and precision, utilizing standard equipment like an adaptive self-leveling suspension with driver-controlled adjustable ride height. It keeps the hefty A8 level through hard cornering and absorbs an incredible amount of road harshness.

The driver can further adjust the driving experience using MMI. A menu called “Audi Drive Select,” allows the driver to fine-tune the engine, transmission, suspension, sport differential, and steering feel. You can even tweak the sound of the exhaust note!

The A8 is available with adaptive cruise control and Audi side assist. The former can match the speed of the car in front of it at a safe distance, while the latter uses sensors to let you know if you are drifting out of your lane or if someone is in your blind spot. The adaptive cruise control also has a stop & go function that lets you take your foot off the pedals in bumper to bumper traffic.

Base MSRP for the 2017 Audi A8 L is $82,500 for the 3.0T. If you want the added power of the 4.0T Sport, pricing starts at $91,500. Optional packages include the $2,500 Driver Assistance Package (adaptive cruise, stop & go, lane assist, and pre sense plus), the $2,500 Rear Seat Comfort Package (power and ventilated rear seats with power lumbar support), the $2,500 Dynamic Package (Audi dynamic steering and quattro sport differential), and many other ways to personalize your A8.

For many vehicle segments, the definition of luxury has changed to match drivers' expectations. The flagship luxury sedans of the world must meet these changing expectations, but they must also deliver the lavish ride and accommodating interiors that define the segment. The 2017 Audi A8 L meets this challenge by combining the latest in safety and infotainment technology with the big sedan chassis its buyers seek. Such a blend of performance, innovation, and comfort is a hard thing to find–and the A8 has it in spades.

Updated
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From open-wheel racecars to specialty off-road vehicles, George Kennedy has driven it all. A career automotive journalist, George has been a contributor, editor, and/or producer at some of the most respected publications and outlets, including Consumer Reports, the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, Autoblog.com, Hemmings Classic Wheels, BoldRide.com, the Providence Journal, and WheelsTV.

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