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Audi A8: Test Drive Review

Date: 19 May 2014   |   Author:

Category: Luxury P11D
price: £65,140
Key rival: Mercedes S-class

The pinnacle of Audi's huge range, the luxury A8 saloon, has been revamped, with a mild facelift, new technology and efficiency improvements. 

While it's not a dramatic refresh, the bonnet, grille, bumpers and light units have all been given some subtle resculpting, while each of the engines is both more powerful and efficient.

The 258hp 3.0-litre diesel is likely to be the biggest-selling model, especially among the 42.5% of customers that are expected to be registered as fleet, and that engine is up from 250hp while emissions drop from 169g/km to 155g/km for the lowest emitting, short-wheelbase diesel, the biggest fall of any in the range. 

The long-wheelbase derivative driven here costs an extra £3965, which for an extra 130mm is only justifiable by those used to sitting in the back of such cars.

This SE Executive spec will be dominant, taking 42.4% of sales, although stepping up to Sport Executive trim or the S8 or Hybrid models adds Audi's impressive new Matrixbeam LED lighting technology rather than the standard LED lamps, meaning all front light functions including indicators, headlamps and running lights are operated via 25 LEDs, which can even light the road around oncoming traffic without dazzling drivers.

The indicators also sweep along a line of LEDs rather than flashing in the traditional way, making the A8 distinct on UK roads. 

The CO2 cut, which brings a 3.8mpg improvement, still leaves the A8 10g/km behind the BMW 730Ld and new Merc S350L CDi, both of which also boast a better predicted residual value than the Audi.

Despite having the highest P11D, the Merc S-class loses the least money thanks to an RV none of the other brands can get within seven percentage points of, making it comfortably the most cost-efficient despite being significantly more expensive than its rivals. 

Audi A8 L 3.0 TDI SE Executive
P11D price £64,550
Model price range £58,800-£79,900
Residual value 27.3%
Depreciat­ion £47,386
Fuel £8009
Service, maintenance and repair £3969
Vehicle Excise Duty £525
National Insurance £7371
Cost per mile 136.5p
Fuel consumption 47.1mpg
CO2 (tax) 158g/km (26%)
BIK 20/40% per month £282/£565
Service interval 19,000mls
Insurance (1-50) group 44
Warranty 3yrs/60,000mls
Boot space (min/max) 490 litres
Engine size/power 2967cc/258hp
Top speed/0-60mph 155mph/6.1secs
On sale January 2014


Excellent and classy, but outpointed by the S-class