The Audi A8 is the flagship sedan in the brand’s range, but this one is the entry-level take on the theme – the 2023 Audi A8 50 TDI.
Yep, a diesel engine is still the entry-point to this luxury limousine range, while most other brands are moving to high-tech hybridised petrol powertrains, or full electrification, as the times dictate.
That’ll probably happen for the next-gen A8, if there is one… but the current car has been updated, with this facelifted version utilising a 48-volt mild-hybrid system alongside its 3.0-litre turbo-diesel – it has quattro all-wheel drive standard, too.
It now kicks off at more than $200,000 before on-roads, too… so, is it still plush enough? Let’s find out.
The 2023 Audi A8 line-up consists of three different variations – here we have the ‘entry-level’ standard-wheelbase A8 50 TDI which is priced from a cool $202,700 before on-road costs.
The longer-wheelbase A8 L model might seem pricey for its extra rear-seat legroom, but it’s the one to buy for the ultimate in chauffeur driven comfort for occupants.
The A8 line-up is relatively small compared to its main rivals. The new BMW 7 Series has three grades, but two are electric – the petrol 740i starts at $272,900, while the i7 xDrive 60 is $306,900, and the i7 M70 xDrive is $344,900.
As does the Mercedes S-Class line-up, which starts from $242,361 (all MSRP pricing), before stepping up to the S450 L ($266,961), the S580 L ($332,760), and the petrol-model range is topped by the V12-powered S680 Maybach ($571,662). There’s also the EQS 53 4Matic+ electric limousine, which is $327,075.
By comparison the Audi looks like a bargain. Even more so when you consider that all the colour/paint options are at no extra cost.
So, whether you choose Brilliant Black, Mythos Black Metallic, Firmament Blue Metallic, Ultra Blue Metallic, District Green Metallic, Daytona Grey Pearl, Manhattan Grey Metallic, Terra Grey Metallic, Vesuvius Grey Metallic, Florett Silver Metallic or Glacier White Metallic, there is no added cost. But there are some Audi Exclusive colours that cost $7050 more!
There are some amazing optional extras, including the S line package that makes this car look less like one that deserves Hire Car plates, and a few other choice items I’ll cover down below.
2023 Audi A8 pricing:
- Audi A8 50TDI: $202,700
- Audi A8 L 50TDI: $222,700
- Audi S8: $273,400
Prices exclude on-road costs
There isn’t nearly as much wow factor as in a new BMW or Mercedes limo – and you know what? I am totally okay with that.
That’s because the quality of the materials and the usability of the technology is exceptionally good.
This test vehicle featured a beautiful wood finish on the dashboard and doors, Dinamica fake suede material on the door cards, and sumptuous Valcona leather on the seats and dash and other parts of the cabin area – and combined, it makes for a seriously high-end look and feel in the cabin.
There’s also a hint of theatrics to it. When you switch the car on, the wood panelling opens up to reveal the air vents. There are haptic control pads below those vents that allow you to adjust the speed/flow of the air, and the vents will close and the wood will reappear if you turn the flow off.
Yes, it may only have a 10.1-inch touchscreen media system, but it also has a secondary screen below that with haptic feedback, and it does work really well. I don’t even mind that you have to touch the screen to adjust the fan speed and temperature – because it’s logical, and learnable.
As is the driver information screen (or Virtual Cockpit, in Audi speak), which has an array of readouts and data on it, and is very easy to get to grips with.
The comfort is exceptional for front-seat occupants as well, with very cushy and nicely adjustable seats, with a bunch of different functions available as well, including heating, cooling, a massage function, electric adjustment, and memory settings on both sides.
When it comes to storage, there is a pair of reasonably decent door pockets with bottle holsters, although the front doors have an asymmetrical design – meaning the driver’s door has different elements than the passengers door.
So the passenger door gets a bigger bottle holder and a different shape to the grab handle, while the driver’s door gets less storage, but also has more controls.
Between the front seats is a covered centre console bin with a twin-opening lid. Within that is a wireless phone charger with one of the cleverest holsters to keep your phone in place and out of sight that I’ve seen in any car.
There is a pair of USB-C ports in there as well, while in front of that storage area is a pair of cupholders and a 12-volt port.
In the second row, there is ample space for an adult of my size – as you would expect. At 182cm or 6’0” tall, I have enough knee-room and headroom to be comfortable, but it is going to be a better two-person rear-seat experience than a three-person job.
The outer seats are beautifully sculpted and comfortable, while the middle seat is flatter and there is a huge transmission tunnel intrusion that does get in the way of things.
Of course that middle-rear seat is designed to be folded down to split up the space in the second row, creating an armrest for the backseat occupants – as well as a control centre for media, lighting (including Matrix LED reading lights!), shades and much more – thanks to the 5.7-inch screen between the seats.
There’s also a pop-out cupholder section, and a covered centre bin with a pair of USB-C ports. It also has a delightful closing motion and damping when you fold that armrest section away.
Rear occupants also score a pair of pockets on the seat backs, and bottle holders in the doors. Also there are pop-up screens for the windows.
Those in the rear are also treated to the wood finish on the seat backs of the front seats, and along the doors.
When it comes to ventilation, there are directional air-vents in the B-pillars, and also in the back of the front centre console area. And there are bright overhead LED lights for reading, or for getting a child in or out of the back seats.
On that topic, there are ISOFIX points available in each of the rear window seats, and three top-tether points as well.
Perhaps the strangest thing in the back is the pair of 12-volt ports – obviously designed as cigarette lighters! How weird.
As you would expect, the boot space is ample, with enough space for luggage transfer from the airport.
There’s 505 litres of cargo capacity in the boot, but there is a hump towards the front of the cargo area, which does eat into the space a little bit. But there is also an opening between the boot area and the cabin for storage of longer items like skis.
There is a netted section to the left of the back of the vehicle with a 12-volt port as well, and underneath the boot floor is a space-saver spare tyre.
This version of the A8 comes with a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 paired with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system, which gives this ultra-large sedan a healthy 210kW of power (3500-4000rpm) and 600Nm of torque (1750-3250rpm).
It has an eight-speed automatic transmission, and quattro all-wheel drive as standard.
The performance claims are solid, too: 0-100km/h is 5.9 seconds, and the top speed is 250km/h – ideal for those autobahn sprints… not so much for the M5 tunnel in Sydney.
Let’s not kid ourselves. This car is as much about what it’s like to be in the back seat as it is for those up front.
I can attest, though, that no matter where you sit, the luxury of this experience is exceptional. It is properly posh.
The most outstanding element for all occupants is the car’s sublime ride comfort.
The adaptive air suspension is, in my opinion, unparalleled in terms of the amount of composure and control on offer when the car encounters bumpy sections of road, or even speed humps – it does a tremendous job of cosseting those in the cabin, and making for comfortable and very smooth progress.
But it also handles itself well in corners, with a tied-down and assertive dynamism that you might not expect of a car of this size, and with this much weight.
It isn’t sports car-like, but it is far more enjoyable to drive than you might expect it will be – if you do find the sort of road where you can give it a bit of a push, or maybe you need to ferry some VIPs along a twisty road to their secret hideout.
The steering also offers a decent amount of directness and responsiveness to it. It isn’t the last word in feel, but it’s still predictable and manageable in all situations.
The 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 engine is also terrific, with a strong surge of torque from low in the rev range, and linear power delivery as you build speed.
There’s a smart eight-speed auto transmission that allows the engine to do its best work, either just by using its pulling power, or by dropping a gear and helping things out.
No matter which situation the drivetrain finds itself in, though, it’s quiet and very refined. The only issues with that refinement can be when the 48-volt stop-start system kicks in at the low speeds, and there can be some slight jerking or hesitation – but it is not all the time, and it’s certainly not a dealbreaker.
When you’re using adaptive cruise control and coasting the car can cut the engine completely, too, and it’ll cut the engine if you’re coasting to a stop.
There are multiple drive modes available, including auto, comfort, dynamic, and individual. While the dynamic mode does tighten things up in terms of suspension, steering, engine and transmission responsiveness, comfort mode is where it’s at when you’re driving a car like this, or if you’re a passenger in a car like this, because it makes things that much more relaxed and cushy.
I cannot overstate just how impressive the noise, vibration and harshness suppression is in this car – it feels properly luxurious, and so it should.
There’s a tremendous level of comfort on offer, and that’s exactly what there should be. And you can barely hear the road surface, even on coarse-chip roads, and there’s but a whisper of wind noise at speed – remember, this is designed to cut through the air cleanly at autobahn speeds, so it’s quiet.
As for the safety technology and the systems on offer, the adaptive cruise control offers a choice of lane-keeping assistance or not, and I found it worked extremely well in both situations.
However, during my time in this test car, I had an instance where one of the car’s parking sensor systems failed, meaning the auto-parking system was unavailable, and so were safety systems like the clever manoeuvre braking system that will hit the brakes if it thinks you might hit an obstacle at lower speeds.
A8 50 TDI highlights:
- 20-inch alloy wheels
- Space-saver spare wheel
- Digital Matrix LED headlights
- HD Matrix function
- LED daytime running lights
- OLED tail lights
- Extended light sequencing
- 5 dynamic image/animation projections
- Front, rear dynamic indicators
- Adaptive air suspension
- Continuously variable adaptive damping on all four wheels
- Keyless entry and start
- Electric boot lid with gesture control
- Exterior mirrors
- Heated, folding and auto dimming with memory; kerb-side function on the passenger side
- Power assisted door closure (aka soft close)
- Panoramic sunroof with electric shade
- Double glazed glass
- Electric front seat adjustment
- Valcona leather upholstery with perforated leather on front and outer rear seats
- Extended leather package
- Centre console, door armrests, airbag cover on steering wheel, upper dashboard and door rails in Nappa leather
- Heated front seats
- Heated front armrests
- Heated front centre console lid
- Heated steering wheel with paddle-shifters
- Electric steering wheel adjustment
- Ventilated (cooled) front seats
- Massage front seats
- Ambient lighting with 30 selectable colours, 6 colour profiles
- 12.3-inch driver info display (virtual cockpit)
- Head-up display
- 10.1-inch touchscreen media system
- Satellite navigation
- DAB digital radio
- Wired and wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- 17-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo system with subwoofer
- 4x USB ports (2 x front, 2 x rear)
- Wireless phone charging
- Audi connect online services
- Online traffic information, hazard alerts, Google Maps connectivity, parking information, weather info, fuel prices, Google services, and Security & Assistance package with remote locking/unlocking, car finder, emergency calling and online roadside assistance
- Rear-seat control system with 5.7-inch OLED screen
- Climate control, seat, lighting and convenience functions available
If that’s not enough, some of the optional packages include:
- Sensory Package ($17,000): Rear outer heated seats (standard equipment for long wheel base model); full leather package; 23-speaker Bang & Olufsen advanced sound system; adaptive windscreen wipers; headlining and parcel shelf in black Dinamica; extendable sun visors; privacy glass – dark tinted rear and rear side windows; air quality package – includes 2 fragrances and air ionisation to improve the air quality in the cabin
- Rear Seat Comfort Package ($7000): Seat ventilation with massage function at rear; 3-seater rear seat system includes rear outer seats with power adjustment; comfort head restraints; outer heated seats in the back row
- S line exterior package ($NCO): Changes front and rear bumpers for aero-focused S line versions, black exterior highlights and effects (not shown on this test vehicle, which has the no-cost Chrome Exterior Package.
There is no ANCAP or Euro NCAP crash test safety rating for the Audi A8. Never has been, in fact.
But being the flagship model in the line-up, you can rest assured that while it doesn’t have an independent safety rating, it does have a vast array of active safety technology and features to keep you safe.
Those items include:
- Adaptive cruise control with stop & go, including traffic jam assist
- Active lane assist
- When activated helps the driver stay in the lane by gentle corrective steering intervention and through steering vibration
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- 360-degree cameras including kerb view function
- Front, rear parking sensors
- Driver attention alert
- Forward autonomous emergency braking
- Pedestrian and cyclist detection, and intersection assistance
- Collision avoidance assist
- Supports steering torque in critical situations where the driver initiates evasive action
- Turn assist (junction assist)
- Monitors oncoming traffic when turning right at low speeds
- Emergency assist
- Within system limits, detects when the driver fails to respond. In such instance, the system provides the driver with a visual, acoustic and haptic warning
- Exit warning system
- Detects cars and cyclists when opening doors
There’s also an optional Night Vision Assistant, which can identify and illustrate people and larger wild animals. The airbag count is generous (nine), with dual front airbags, front side airbags, rear side airbags, a front centre airbag, and curtain airbags.
The A8 is covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, and you can purchase a five-year service plan for $4290. That will cover your first five services, due at either 12 months or every 15,000km.
There’s service-initiated roadside assistance as well, so if you maintain the vehicle with Audi, you’ll be able to take advantage.
As for the running costs, the official combined cycle fuel consumption for the A8 50 TDI is 6.6 litres per 100km – pretty impressive for a 2095kg luxury sedan.
In my testing, which included a few hundred kilometres of mixed driving, I saw a return of 7.7L/100km.
The competitors might make the A8 feel a bit behind the times in terms of the technology, but this remains a splendid uber luxury sedan with an effortless powertrain and a tremendously good ride.
It seems like a terrific buy for the money, considering how much the competitors cost, too.
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