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2021 Audi A8 Overview
The A8 is Audi’s flagship sedan, last redesigned in 2019. New engine options appeared last year, and this year, there are a few minor feature updates. Rivals include the BMW 7 Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Jaguar XJ, Lexus LS, and Porsche Panamera.
Technically, the A8 is a extended-wheelbase model (years ago, it was called the A8 L, but then the regular-wheelbase model was discontinued). That means it cuts an imposing figure in traffic or at rest, though its overall design is clean and sophisticated, with standout standard and optional touches such as matrix-design LED front lighting, animated OLED rear lighting, and the choice of several lovely wheel designs in a range of sizes topping out at 21 inches.
There are three models available this year: 55 TFSI, 60 TFSI, and TFSI e. All feature Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive (AWD) system. There’s also a high-performance S8 model, reviewed separately. The 55 TFSI kicks things off with a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine rated for 335 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, as well as decent fuel economy ratings of 17 mpg city, 26 highway, and 21 combined. The 60 TFSI is powered by a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine rated for 453 hp and 487 lb-ft. These models both feature mild-hybrid technology and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Finally, the TFSI e is a plug-in hybrid comprised of a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine, an electric motor paired with the eight-speed automatic transmission, and a 14.1kWh lithium-ion battery, for total ratings of 443 hp and 516 lb-ft. It’s rated for 54 MPGe in combined driving.
The cabin design exemplifies minimalist luxury, with standard leather upholstery and 22-way, power-adjustable, heated and cooled front seats, which are newly standard for this year. Other features include a panoramic sunroof, proximity keyless entry, and quad-zone automatic climate control. There are tons of options for customizing the interior, as well, such as the Black Optic and Sport Style trim packages and the Executive Package, which decks out the rear row to make a sweet livery vehicle.
Audi’s Multi-media Interface (MMI) comes standard, housed in a pair of touch screens measuring 10.1 and 8.6 inches. Features include a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, Bluetooth, satellite radio, HD Radio, Amazon Alexa, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, wireless device charging (new this year), navigation, voice recognition, and a 17-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system. For options, Audi offers a rear-seat entertainment system, a DVD player, and a 23-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system.
Standard safety features include a surround-view camera system (new for this year), forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and front and rear parking sensors. Options include blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, vehicle exit assist, traffic-sign recognition, night vision, and a head-up display (HUD). The Pre-sense 360 system monitors for imminent frontal-, rear-, and side-impact collisions and prepares the car to best protect its occupants.
There aren’t many models competing for your full-size luxury sedan dollars, but the competition is still tough, and Audi manages to make the 2021 A8 stand out in all the right ways.
Cherise is a Chicago-based freelance writer and editor with nearly 15 years of experience covering the automotive industry. Cherise loves writing about car culture and sharing common-sense car-buying advice. She owns a 2019 Subaru WRX Series.Gray, 2020 Subaru Outback Onyx XT, 2007 Genuine Buddy Italia 150, 2015 Honda Grom, and 1979 Boston Whaler Montauk.
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