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2016 Audi A8: New Car Review

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author photo by Autotrader March 2016

The 2016 Audi A8 is still a flagship sedan to be reckoned with. Although the main competitors now have newer-generation models, the A8 has always had a futuristic edge. It was the first of its kind to use an aluminum space frame on which aluminum panels were mounted. This created a lighter car, giving the A8 an advantage not just in fuel consumption but also in the driving experience.

Full-size luxury sedans are usually the first cars in which cutting-edge technology is introduced. As new tech comes out at an ever-increasing speed with ever-greater capability, the 2016 A8 is now left in the silicon dust kicked up by fresher rivals such as the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. This should be rectified for the 2017 model year when an all-new A8 comes along. Between then and now, though, the final year of this generation has been honed, toned and comfort-zoned.

What's New for 2016?

There are no diesel versions. And every 2016 A8 comes as the longer-wheelbase model, regardless of trim level. Dual-pane acoustic glass is now standard, the cabin receives more leather (on the door armrests, center console and airbag cover), and the infotainment system has upgraded 4G Wi-Fi capability. The 4.0T model gets a Sport Style package, which entails a slightly different design of bumpers and side sills compared with other versions. There are also new designs for 20-inch and 21-in alloy wheel choices.

What We Like

Sublime interior; punchy V6; composed handling; all-wheel drive as standard

What We Don't

Relatively small trunk; fewer tech features than its top rivals; 20-in wheel/tire combination brings more road noise and a firmer ride

How Much?


Fuel Economy

Every version has an 8-speed automatic transmission and Audi's quattro all-wheel-drive system.

The 3.0T uses a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine making 333 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates fuel consumption at 19 miles per gallon in the city, 29 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg combined.

The 4.0T model enjoys a turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine that develops 450 hp and 444 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is rated at 18 mpg city/29 mpg hwy/22 mpg combined.

At the top of the range is a naturally aspirated 6.3-liter W12 engine (imagine two V6 engines connected in a W formation) generating 500 hp and 463 lb-ft of torque. This engine does not have a start/stop function like the V6 and V8 units. Fuel consumption estimates are 14 mpg city/22 mpg hwy/17 mpg combined.

Standard Features & Options

The 2016 Audi A8 is offered solely as a long-wheelbase L model.

The 3.0T ($82,450) comes with 19-in alloy wheels, LED headlights and taillights, an adaptive air suspension, keyless entry/ignition, quad-zone automatic climate control, a sunroof, dual-pane acoustic glass, heated/power-folding side mirrors, auto-dimming mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, power door closers, Audi drive select (for adjustable steering, suspension and throttle settings), leather upholstery, 14-way power adjustable and heated front seats, front-seat memory settings, a power tilt-telescopic steering wheel and power sunshades for the rear window and rear side windows. Audi's MMI infotainment system includes a retractable 8-in thin-film-transistor display, Bluetooth, a touchpad with handwriting recognition, navigation with Google Earth street views, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, voice control and a Bose 630-watt/14-speaker surround-sound audio system with a CD/DVD player, iPod integration, twin SD-card slots and satellite radio.

The 4.0T ($91,450) adds 20-in wheels, the aforementioned Sport Style package, a panoramic sunroof, upgraded leather upholstery with diamond-pattern stitching, faux suede headliner, 22-way ventilated/massaging front seats (with power lumbar adjustment), a rearview camera, top-view and corner-view cameras, a blind spot monitoring system and a head-up display.

The W12 ($138,450) brings more chrome and stainless-steel accents, variable-ratio steering, a heated steering wheel, power adjustable heated/ventilated/massaging rear seats, a fixed rear center console (this model comes as a 4-seater; seating for three in the back is a no-cost option) and a dual-screen rear-seat entertainment system.

Many features that are standard in the higher trims are available as options elsewhere. Other extras include an infrared-based night vision system with pedestrian and large animal detection, adaptive cruise control, sport seats and a 1,400-watt/19-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system. An electronic rear differential for improved handling is available in the 4.0T and W12. The W12 is also eligible for the Executive Rear Seat Comfort package that has a power footrest for the right rear seat, a chiller compartment in the center console and a 115-volt outlet. Unfortunately, this setup means the front passenger seat loses its massage feature and some power adjustability.

This model has 14.2 cu ft. of trunk space, which isn't as good as some midsize sedans. At least there's a hands-free power trunk lid.


Standard safety equipment includes stability/traction control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, active front head restraints and 10 airbags (front, front-side, front-knee, rear-side and full-length side-curtain), as well as a range of advanced safety technologies, such as a lane-departure warning system with active lane-keeping assist and a collision-mitigation feature that closes the sunroof and windows and pre-tightens seat belts in the event of hard braking.

The A8 has not been crash-tested in the United States.

Behind the Wheel

This is one of the nicest cabins in the automotive world. Materials are consistently superb, and practically everything has an expensive, precisely engineered feel. The 8-in display is a beauty, especially when calling up Google Earth for a 3D street view.

However, the front seats are one of the few interior features that don't meet or exceed expectations. They're undoubtedly comfortable, but even the optional 22-way chairs don't have wow-factor features such as the S-Class sedan's active side bolsters.

The engines are satisfying in their own ways. The supercharged V6 is remarkably potent for its size, while the twin-turbo V8 is a fabulous choice for those who appreciate both speed and subtlety. It's strong, smooth and fuel efficient. Although the W12 doesn't offer much of a performance advantage over the V8, its distinct character and soundtrack make it a worthwhile experience for those with sufficiently deep pockets.

The standard all-wheel-drive system is already a performance plus with its 40/60 front/rear power split, but it's enhanced by the optional electronic rear differential.

The A8 has a smoother ride than lesser Audis thanks to its air suspension. Even so, you should make sure that you're satisfied with the ride quality on rough pavement if you want those 20-in wheels. In this instance, road noise can also be an issue.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 BMW 7 Series -- The 7 Series is new for this model year. To luxuriate in the back is wonderful; to be in the driver's seat is glorious.

2016 Cadillac CT6 -- The CT6 is a newcomer to the large-luxury-sedan game, but it's fully prepared to take part.

2016 Jaguar XJ -- For the luxury-car buyer who likes being behind the wheel, this is worth a look. A new generation of the Jaguar is in the pipeline, though.

2016 Lexus LS -- The LS is arguably the least engaging to drive in this group. But that may not be an issue for some, as they will still like the quality and dependability.

2016 Mercedes-Benz S-Class -- A new generation of the S-Class debuted just a couple of years ago, and it's a technology masterpiece.

2016 Porsche Panamera -- If the hatchback works from a styling point of view, then the rest of the car should impress greatly.

Used Bentley Flying Spur -- Even though it's huge and high-quality, the Flying Spur might surprise a few people with its excellent driving abilities.

Autotrader's Advice

It's possible that there will be a W12 version when the new generation of the Audi comes out later in the year, but this could be the last opportunity to buy an A8 with this remarkable engine.

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2016 Audi A8: New Car Review - Autotrader