2012 Audi A8L 4.2 FSI Quattro

Posted by Black Duc On Thursday, May 2, 2013 0 nhận xét

2012 Audi A8L 4.2 FSI Quattro

Timeless: Our long-term A8L was one for the ages. Which is to say expensive.

Audi went all-in on aluminum with the first-generation A8 that arrived here for 1997. It must have had a crystal ball: Now that all automakers are looking to meet aggressive CAFE targets through, among other things, the shedding of pounds, Audi’s bet on aluminum seems prescient. This head start with the most abundant metal in the earth’s crust means the third-generation A8 is a paragon of mass management, lightweight manufacturing, and big-car fuel efficiency. But it also represents the best the brand has to offer in terms of executive-class luxury, performance, and technology.
After it posted a narrow victory over the BMW 750iL and the Jaguar XJL Supercharged in a May 2011 comparison test, we decided to put the 2012 A8L through a long-term test, albeit without the $12,500 Executive Rear Seat package. With an as-tested price of $100,875, though, our Emerald Black Metallic test car still offered corner-office comfort. In the interest of  journalistic investigation, we added the following to the $85,575 A8L base price: $3000 for the Driver Assistance package (full-speed adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, blind-spot warning, and forward-crash warning), $2300 for night vision, $2300 for dynamic steering and a torque-vectoring rear differential, $2000 for 22-way-adjustable and massaging front seats, and $1600 for LED headlights. A $1500 faux-suede headliner, $1200 20-inch wheels shod with summer rubber, the $800 Cold Weather package, and $600 dual-pane side glass were simply indulgences on our part.

Shortly after the A8L’s arrival in our fleet, we put the magic-fingers seats under the microscope in our annual Comparison Test issue, determining that the 10 massaging air bladders—offering 25 massage settings—in the front buckets were the best on the market. But as we noted then, the A8 lacks the true serenity of a day at the spa. A strange mechanical sound sporadically emanated from the center of the dashboard; it resembled three quarter notes on a high-hat cymbal but was most likely a squawking infotainment hard drive. Wary of angering the ghost of  Buddy Rich, we simply tolerated this occasional noise. Also on the unnecessary-racket list was tire noise from the 40-series Pirelli P Zerorubber. Every thwack and thump ­filtered into the cabin. The P Zeros did at least enable amazing performance figures of ­0.90 g on the skidpad and 152 feet braking from 70 mph, both of which improved slightly in our final test. Noise reduction comes with a penalty: A test of a 2013 A8L on all-season tires yielded 0.85 g in cornering  grip and a 172-foot stop from 70 mph.
Some credit for the A8’s nimbleness is also due to the aluminum construction. Even with its various luxury trappings and all-wheel drive, our long-termer weighed 542 pounds less than a previous big German long-term tester, a BMW 750Li xDrive. Fuel economy in the Audi, at 21 mpg over 40,000 miles, bested the Bimmer by 3 mpg. And a 5.0-second 0-to-60-mph time at the track shows that the efficiency does not come at the expense of getaway performance. In our final test, the A8’s 0-to-60 was half a second slower, but the quarter-mile dropped only 0.3 second and interval acceleration times were similar in both tests. This suggests the eight-speed transmission was culpable for the slowdown. The ZF-supplied ’box also was the source of our biggest complaint about this Audi: an overly sensitive shift lever that made it tough to engage the desired gear (into reverse from drive, for example) on the first try.

The front cup holders seem designed for dainty cappuccinos—my 20-ounce bottle of American Pepsi doesn't quite fit.
There's a scratching sound at the base of the windshield with HVAC and audio off. Sounds like frozen rain bits hitting the windshield.
So much class and presence; I could sit in the cabin all day and love it.
Just drove more than 2000 miles to Florida. The A8L is the best car I've ever taken on a long trip.
Love that there is a center stop for the HVAC vents. Audi is as compulsive as I am. The whole car is full of these obsessive details and I love Audi for it.
Mostly what noises I heard were tire sounds, lots of them. More than I think you'd expect to hear in a big luxury vehicle like this one.
The not-quite-black paint always looks not-quite clean. People are wowed by the glittery greenness of it in direct sunlight. To me, that moment of surprise is not worth the muddy, indistinct black appearance the rest of the time.
Seriously athletic for something so big and comfortable. Or is it the other way around? We drove from Detroit to Rochester, New York—turned out to be seven hours due to construction—and didn't get out of the car once.

Our A8 also came with the latest Multi-Media Interface (MMI), the single-knob and multi-button infotainment unit that made its debut on the second-generation A8. An interactive touch pad that allows users to scribble in letters for data entry, combined with a solid voice-recognition system, made the A8 easy to program for the few staffers who found the multitude of buttons too distracting. A built-in 3G cellular modem provided the added benefits of Google-based searches for navigation destinations and in-car Wi-Fi, the latter of  which was not only a hit with iPad-equipped children on road trips but also prompted copy chief Carolyn Pavia-Rauchman to consider using the A8 as a massage-equipped office.
Logbook complaints about the A8 were scarce, but we may have seen more carping had more people participated in the six unscheduled trips to the dealer. Our first came just 23 miles after the 5000-mile service, when a warning light alerted us to an oil overfill. Then, at 10,712 miles, the A8 requested service despite being 5000 miles short of  the next scheduled interval, requiring a dealer visit to reset the onboard computer. Things went smoothly until we deemed a noise from the right-front corner troublesome enough to investigate. Our local dealer diagnosed a faulty wheel bearing and ordered a new part under warranty, but inexplicably for the left side. Two more stops to confirm that the problem was indeed on the right and to install the replacement bearing finally solved the problem. Our final unscheduled stop came just beyond 39,000 miles when a cruise-control sensor needed replacement. That and a ­corresponding wheel alignment rang up $732 in nonwarranty costs. We also saw slight warping of the front rotors at the end of our test that required new discs and pads, a further $767 hit to the ­wallet.
If our two nonwarranty repairs were expensive, the regular running cost of our A8 was downright exorbitant. While our 5000-mile service was provided free of charge, the checkups at 15K, 25K, and 35K totaled $1402. Remember those Pirelli tires we praised a few paragraphs ago? Their treads were worn out by 25,000 miles, resulting in a $2260 replacement bill (four new tires for our 1997 long-term A8 ran a mere $392). The 7-series, in comparison, came with free scheduled maintenance but did cost us $1796 in new rubber. All told, our operating costs averaged 27 cents per mile.

At least the A8 delivered a sublime driving experience, with a cruising range that stretched beyond 500 miles and ergonomics so superior that a full tank of  fuel can be consumed in one easy sitting. Aiding the long-distance hauls were the lane-departure warning and adaptive cruise control. A subtle shake on the steering wheel, reminiscent of the disturbance generated by crossing rumble strips, alerts the driver to his wandering vector. The adaptive cruise control works at all speeds, which is a blessing in heavy traffic or construction zones. Running both systems at the same time minimizes the danger of driver fatigue, but also forfeits control to a level we’re not quite comfortable with. Even though the night-vision system took first place in our June 2011 test against gear from ­Mercedes-Benz and BMW—and it does provide useful warnings of  nocturnal pedestrians—we still deemed it to be a gimmick.
In our comparison test, we said the A8L was “as solid as Deutsche Bank,” and we praised not only its comfort but also the way, when pushed harder, it eats up corners like a much smaller car. After 40,000 miles we can say the same about our long-term tester, with the caveat that it also takes the finances of Deutsche Bank to keep it on the road. Well, either that or a good investment portfolio. Might we suggest holdings in aluminum? 

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