Monday July 12
We've driven a lot of luxury cars of late. Perhaps it is a sign of growing confidence in the economy that they are also starting to feel less silly than they would have done last year. Audi's new flagship saloon, the A8, is still unlikely to sell in large numbers in Ireland and has lived in the shadow of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the top-selling model (in an admittedly small segment) for years.
Audi's A8 has evolved from something that was a little too hard edged into a car that blends sporty characteristics with super comfort. We sampled the big saloon at the European launch, but collecting the A8 at Audi's Ballsbridge flagship showroom it seems enormous. Power comes from a 4.2-litre common-rail diesel engine putting out 346hp and 800Nm of torque. That means this massive car is capable of reaching 100km/h in 5.5 seconds. Yet emissions are 'just' 199g/km and the combined cycle fuel economy is 7.6l/100km.
Painted black and with an options list that has left no box unticked, I'm given a full run through of what goes where and how stuff works, something I haven't needed to do in a new car for years. There is night vision, seats that massage you, handwriting recognition, a DVD changer and more leather than a Hells Angels convention. Just so you know, the options fitted to our test car are as follows: metallic paint (€1,807); power assisted closing for doors (€1,070); Balao Brown Design Package (€21,165); individual rear seats (€5,185); acoustic double glazing (€1,155); heated steering wheel (€401); seat ventilation and massage function – front and rear (€2,358); Bose surround sound system (€1,925); night vision system (€3,345). Add this to the €110,170 price tag and you get €156,692 for the car you see here.
Tuesday July 13
Magnificent. This car is magnificent. It is fast, blisteringly fast in fact, with house-removing torque levels and it is incredibly responsive. It also has the most beautifully made cabin I've seen in some time. When Audi can make its entry-level A1 look nicely crafted inside you know that when it shows off the result is pretty special. There is a lot of technology going on for sure but everything connects so well from your iPhone to the Google-enabled search in the satnav system. We collected two friends for dinner and they enjoyed the massaging rear seats and giggled like kids pushing all the buttons.
Friday July 16
I left the Audi in the airport for a few days while abroad and it is time to stretch its legs again. The ability this car has in terms of not only being luxurious and comfortable but also being agile is astonishing. Sure it is wide and long, but you can fling it about like a hot hatch. Perhaps one criticism is that it just doesn't look inspiring enough. Sure, it has presence, but after looking at this car for days I'd have loved if Audi had done more with the rear styling. I know that stereotypical luxury car buyers can be conservative, but given what we have seen from Audi with cars like the A5, A7 and R8 the A8 just looks a little too discreet in my opinion.
Monday July 19
Heartbreak as the A8 goes back. Yes, I know at CompleteCar.ie we are meant to be impartial critics but I absolutely adored this car. For me, this is the best luxury car around and it would be first on my list.
Audi A8 4.2 TDI:
Engine: 4,134cc common-rail V8 diesel
Maximum power: 346hp at 4,000rpm
Maximum torque: 800Nm at 1,750rpm
Acceleration (0-100km/h): 5.5 seconds
Max speed: 250km/h (electronically limited)
Fuel economy (combined cycle): 7.6 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 199g/km
Motor tax band: F
Annual road tax: €1,050
Retail price: €156,692 (excluding delivery related charges, but including several options - see main text)