It’s a quiet year for the Audi A8. Audi’s full-size luxury sedan gets a bit more standard equipment and some streamlined options packages for 2021, but it otherwise remains what it always has been: a handsome marriage of style, technology, and comfort.
You want comfort? Check out items like the optional heated massaging footrest. Cool tech? One look at the digital gauges and you’ll be hooked. And all it takes is one drive down a twisty two-lane comprehend the value of the predictive active suspension, which also plays a role in the safety of the A8. Here’s how: If this large Audi luxury sedan senses an imminent side collision, the active suspension lifts the chassis by 3.1 inches (within a half-second) to expose the strongest part of the structure to the brunt of the impact.
The all-wheel-drive Audi A8 is available in three ways. The A8 55 TFSI is powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 with 335 horsepower. The A8 60 TFSI e PHEV is a plug-in hybrid model with 443 horsepower and an electric range of about 17 miles. The A8 60 TFSI packs a turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 with 453 horsepower under its hood.
But Audi fans know there’s another even more potent version of the A8 sedan. It’s called the Audi S8, and this large high-performance sedan is powered by a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 with 563 horsepower.
What’s New for 2021?
All Audi A8s get power front seats with 22-way adjustability for 2021. Beyond that, a top-view camera is now standard, and the A8 60 TFSI model has been upgraded with Sport exterior kit, Matrix headlights, and Valcona leather.
Also, if you order the Black Optic Package on the 2021 Audi A8, it comes with Sport exterior trim and all-wheel steering. For 2021, the Executive Plus Package comes with 20-inch wheels (with all-season tires), a Driver Assistance package, a Cold Weather package, heated front interior surfaces, heated rear seats, and a remote control for the rear seat.
For 2021, the Audi S8 comes standard equipped with 21-inch wheels and summer tires, plus heated front armrests. The S8’s Black Optic Package includes black exterior trim, black mirror covers, and 21-inch bi-color wheels with summer performance tires. See the Audi A8 models for sale near you
What We Like
- Sublime interior
- Lots of tech
- Quattro all-wheel drive
- Composed yet comfortable handling
- Handsomely reserved styling
- The 563-hp S8 model
What We Don’t
- Small trunk
- Poor EPA City fuel economy (especially the S8)
- Only one standard USB port
- How quickly the prices rise with options
- Poor resale value
Every 2021 Audi A8 and S8 is equipped with Quattro AWD and an 8-speed automatic transmission.
The A8 55 TSFI, the version with the 3.0-liter V6 and 48-volt mild-hybrid powertrain making 335 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, is rated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at 17 miles per gallon in the city, 26 mpg on the highway, and 21 mpg in combined driving.
The A8 60 TSFI e, the PHEV model that pairs an electric motor with a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 to create 443 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, is rated at 54 MPGe. This large PHEV Audi sedan not only is quick, but it also has an electric-only driving range of 17 miles.
Equipped with the turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 that generates 453 horsepower and 487 lb-ft of torque, the Audi A8 60 TSFI, aided by a 48-volt mild hybrid system, returns EPA fuel economy of 15 mpg city/23 mpg hwy/18 mpg combined.
Naturally, the most powerful big Audi sedan, the 563-hp S8, has the heartiest appetite for fuel. The 2021 Audi S8 is rated by the EPA at 13 mpg city/22 mpg hwy/16 mpg combined.
Standard Features & Options
The 2021 Audi A8 55 TSFI ($86,500, plus $995 destination) comes with 19-in alloy wheels, adaptive air suspension, a top-view camera, full LED exterior lighting, a heat-insulated windshield, keyless entry, a panoramic sunroof, power soft-close doors, and a power-operated trunk. Inside, standard highlights include leather upholstery, quad-zone automatic climate control, Drive Select (adjustable steering, suspension, transmission and throttle settings), variable-ratio steering, 22-way power-adjustable front seats, digital Virtual Cockpit gauges with navigation, and standard Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. The stereo is a Bang & Olufsen unit with 17 speakers.
The A8 60 TSFI e ($94,905) adds the V6 plug-in hybrid drivetrain. A Rear Seat Connectivity package includes dual tablets, a rear DVD changer, a power outlet, and two rear USB ports.
The A8 60 TSFI ($97,905) model has an abundance of extra features to go with its stout V8 power. The Executive package includes blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, dual-pane acoustic glass, and a heated steering wheel. The Driver Assistance package brings adaptive cruise control and active lane-keeping assistance along with Intersection Assist and Road Sign Recognition.
The S8 ($130,900) is equipped like the performance flagship it is, with predictive active suspension, a Quattro sport rear differential, and Audi’s dynamic all-wheel steering system. Interior niceties include a 17-speaker Bang & Olufsen premium audio system, a fully digital gauge cluster, navigation, and dual touch-response displays for the infotainment and HVAC controls.
In addition to wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, HD Radio, Sirius Satellite radio, and wireless smartphone charging, the 2021 Audi S8 also has a 360-degree camera, a head-up display, four-zone automatic climate control, paddle shifters, a panoramic sunroof, an Alcantara headliner, LED ambient interior lighting, and Valcona leather upholstery. Not enough? It also has heated and ventilated 22-way power sport seats with memory and massage, plus an air purification system and power rear and side window sunshades.
Of the two available Rear Seat Comfort packages on the A8, the most luxurious is the 4-seat Executive version of the A8 60 TSFI e PHEV and A8 60 TSFI models, which includes folding rear tables, reclining/ventilated/massaging rear seats, and remote controls that allow you to adjust the climate, lighting, and even the fore/aft location of the front passenger seat. This is also where the lucky rear passenger can enjoy the heated/massaging footrest.
Other options include 20- or 21-inch wheels and a 23-speaker Bang & Olufsen surround-sound audio system with 1,920 watts of power.
While we are in love with the A8’s spacious and elegant interior, we’d be remiss to not mention that its trunk, at 12.5 cubic feet, is on the small side. The Lexus LS 500 has much more cargo capacity – 17.0 cubic feet. Also worth noting: The A8 PHEV’s trunk is only 10.4 cubic feet because of the 14.1-kWh battery.
The S8 is available with a Black Optic Package that includes black exterior trim, black mirror covers, and 21-inch bi-color wheels wearing high-performance summer tires.
Standard safety equipment on the 2021 Audi A8 includes seven airbags, including a front-center airbag. Pre Sense (standard in all Audi cars) is perhaps the most notable standard safety feature; it automatically closes the sunroof and windows and cinches the seat belts for added occupant protection before an impending collision. Front and rear parking sensors also are standard, and although they are technically not safety hardware, they will help protect the A8 from bumper dings, as will the standard new (and very handy) top-view 360-degree camera.
The Audi A8 has not been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), but that’s not a cause for concern.
Behind the Wheel
The A8 has a quiet and opulent cabin, with an understated design and abundant technologies. Materials are top-notch, and every switch or control operates with a precisely engineered feel. The haptic touchscreens have tactile and audible feedback, and passenger space is in abundant supply.
The driving experience of the 2021 Audi A8 is best characterized as smooth and refined, with more than ample power (especially in the V8-powered A8 60 TFSI models). Handling dynamics are impressively buttoned-down, although the response is more satisfying than exciting. Rear-wheel steering, part of the Black Optic Package, makes the A8 feel smaller than it is by helping to tighten this large sedan’s turning radius.
If ever there was a car designed for comfortable Interstate travel, the Audi A8 is it. As stated, it gobbles up the miles with ease, and it’s so quiet and smooth and solidly built that it makes 75 or 80 mph feel like about 60. The same is true for the S8. No surprise that these large Audi sedans come from the land of the high-speed Autobahn.
Other Cars to Consider
2020 BMW 7 Series — To luxuriate in the back of this big BMW sedan is wonderful; to be in the driver’s seat is glorious. Available with all-wheel drive.
2020 Lexus LS — Utterly dependable and luxurious, with a lower MSRP than the Audi A8. Available as a hybrid and with all-wheel drive.
2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class — The Burgermeister’s ride. The S-Class has a driving experience that’s more pleasant than thrilling. Luxurious and packed with technology. Available with all-wheel drive. An all-new model is coming in the spring of 2021.
Used Infiniti Q70 L— This large and luxurious Japanese sedan has been discontinued, but, like the A8, it flies under the radar. Available with a V8 and all-wheel drive. A bargain on the used car market, but be prepared for outdated infotainment.
Questions You May Ask
Is there a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version of the 2021 Audi A8?
Yes. Introduced last year, the Audi A8 PHEV combines an electric motor and 14.1-kilowatt battery pack with a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 for a combined output of 443 horsepower and EPA fuel economy of 53 MPGe.
Where is the Audi A8 made?
Audi builds its A8 luxury sedan in Neckarsulm, Germany.
How large is the 2021 Audi A8?
At 208.7 inches, the A8 is the largest car Audi makes, and it has a 123.2-inch wheelbase. For comparison, the BMW 7 Series is 207.4 inches long, and the new 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan is 206.9 inches long.
Which cars compete with the 2021 Audi A8?
The 2021 Audi A8 has direct competition from the BMW 7 Series, Jaguar XJ, Lexus LS, and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The A8 is priced competitively against all but the S-Class, which starts about $10,000 higher. You’ll save some money if you opt for the Genesis G90, Cadillac CT6, or Volvo S90.
Which cars compete with the 2021 Audi S8?
The 2021 Audi S8 competes directly with the 2020 Mercedes-AMG S 63 and the Porsche Panamera Turbo.
If you’re looking for fuel economy (and no shortage of power, but some added mechanical complexity), opt for the Audi A8 PHEV. But the lure of a V8 is strong to many of us, and the one powering the A8 60 TFSI is excellent. Add the Executive and Driver Assistance packages for a healthy dose of modern luxury and safety. If you’re craving even more performance and exclusivity, the S8 is the way to go. Find an Audi A8 for sale