posted 5 months ago

A Weekend With... The Audi A8

The A8 is the executive model from Audi

The A8 is the executive model from Audi

It’s always good to put a car through its paces in everyday situations that we’re all likely to use it for and what better way to do this than spend a weekend with it.

This weekend’s test car was the Audi A8, the premium saloon often used for chauffeuring people around, but I was going to use it to cart my family around - so parents, twin and my baby son.

Airport pick up and costly seats

The first test of the Audi A8 was an 160 mile trip to pick up my twin from Bristol Airport on a Friday night.  After a long day the last thing I really needed was a long, dark drive in torrential rain, but that’s what I faced and I was so glad it was in the A8.

The cabin is super luxurious; the black, Vacona leather seats were so comfortable it was like driving in your favourite armchair and with cruise control and a heads up display beaconing the speed onto the dark motorway lanes ahead, it was a very easy drive to Bristol.

My twin did a double take when she saw it as she was expecting an Audi A4 Avant.  I didn’t even have to get out of the car to help with her luggage (I was going to do the full on chauffeur thing but the rain put me off), but as the A8 boot opens using a clever hands-free system her suitcases were flung into the boot, the soft-closing doors shut and the journey back home continued while she made the most of being chauffeured in the rear.  

She was impressed by the ambient lighting in the cabin, then quickly found out that the rear seats could be adjusted electronically and that you could also move the front passenger seat forward for more leg room.  You’d think she thought she was of supermodel my mum found herself slowly moving towards the front glove box.  I didn’t inform her that this was an option costing nearly £5,000...

Large dimensions and small villages

The reason my twin was over was to celebrate my son’s one year old birthday.  Like his parents he has turned into quite the petrolhead, as soon as he gets near a car he has to stand on the driver’s seat and play with the steering wheel. 

So that’s what he did on the morning of his birthday, jumped in the A8 and stood there looking out over the vast bonnet.  It was a case of little person, big car.

And big it is, it’s over five metres in length and nearly two metres wide, so what would that be like to park?  I’ll admit I’m terrible at parking so I would need all the help I could get.

If you want to feel like Godzilla then head to the model village situated at the pretty Bourton on the Water.  Replicating the Costwolds chocolate box village, the cottages are so detailed that if you take photos from the right angle you’ll think they are real.

Turning into the small car park at the venue, slight panic set in as spaces were small and I did wonder where I was going to park the A8.  Luckily I found one just outside the front door, with family inside watching and a few spectators on a bench watching my every move, my saviour was the Audi parking system which helps you get into a spot using visual aids on the centre display screen.  With a bird’s eye view of the A8 meant it was a doddle to park up...I’m just not good at parking straight.  See photos...

Tackling a hill climb

Now to really put the Audi A8 through its paces there’s a place called Fish Hill, a two mile long ascent climbing nearly 180 metres with two long open sweepers to tackle; it would make a fantastic hill climb! 

One thing the A8 doesn’t lack is acceleration, the 3.0-litre V6 has it on tap with 262PS and 580Nm of torque, surprisingly for a car so large and heavy it gets from 0-62mph in just 5.9 seconds, but I wasn’t going to test the A8 on pace, I was going to see how it fared on the twisty stuff....and it didn’t disappoint.

With a car full you usually get the odd ‘can you slow down a bit’, or ‘we’re moving around a bit in the back here’ or you often see your passenger going for the imaginary brake pedal.  Either my family had gone to sleep or they weren’t actually bothered by the hill.

Anyway, throwing such a car into the bends could seem quite daunting as you’d wonder if you’d get out the other side in one piece, but the A8 comes with Quattro all-wheel drive so it delivers plenty of stability, grip and the precise steering is set up for plenty of feedback.

With an air suspension ride quality is good, my passengers described the A8 as wafting along as if they were indeed travelling on air, comfort is definitely what you need from this type of car and it delivers on this.

So did the Audi A8 get the thumbs up from my family?  Indeed it did, as we all found it to be such a luxurious, comfortable saloon and with a price tag starting from £62,010 it’s well priced too.

Read our full review of the ultra powerful Audi S8.