2017 Audi A8 Driving Impressions

Despite its weight, an A8 feels comparatively light and nimble, helped by its aluminum space frame. Quattro all-wheel drive provides sure-footed confidence, despite the suspension’s complexity. The torque split can vary between 40/60 and 60/40 front/rear, as needed.

Audi’s 3.0-liter V6 responds well, courtesy of strong low-end torque. However, it’s not especially smooth, and can become noisy when pushed hard. Acceleration to 60 mph takes 5.5 seconds, helped by well-spaced gearing in the transmission, which incorporates paddle shifters. Not only does the transmission shift smoothly, it seems to pick the best ratio without delay.

The available 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 is essentially the same engine used in the hot S8, but in a reduced state of tune.

Drive Select can control powertrain responses, steering weight, and suspension operation. Picking Comfort, Auto, or Dynamic mode can alter the experience from sedate all the way to dramatic. In Comfort or Auto mode, the transmission tends to shift quite early. Yet, pushing the pedal forcefully yields repeated downshifts. An Individual mode may be customized, to provide highway behavior between those two levels.

An A8 isn’t particularly frugal, which won’t surprise any typical buyer. With the V6 engine, the A8 L is EPA-rated at 19/29 mpg City/Highway, or 22 mpg Combined. Picking the V8 drops the city figure to 18 mpg. The S8 sedan is EPA-rated at 15/24 mpg City/Highway, or 18 mpg Combined.

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