Review: 2014 Audi A8L TDI – Luxury to the Power of Diesel

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2014 audi a8 tdi review grill

The 2014 Audi A8L TDI is in a rarified class of large, comfortable, opulent cruising sedans.  There is not a lot of competition in the class, but customers have brand loyalty and these sedans are hard to fault at anything.  Can this diesel powered 2014 Audi top-dog sedan gain market share in this discerning segment?  Read on to learn more.

STATS Starting Retail Price As Tested Price HP / Lb-Ft
2014 Audi A8L TDI $82,500 $99,445 240 / 406

EPA Rating MPG As Tested MPG
Rating: BUY IT!  24 / 36 Combined 28 28.8

First Impressions

The “L” in A8L stands for “Long” wheelbase, and this Audi has an imposing curb presence.  The 20-inch rims don’t even look big on this huge luxury cruiser.  Seeing this Audi can make one wonder – “who is being driven in this car?”  But this car is not all about being chauffeured around from one business meeting to the next.  It’s also a driver’s car.

2014 audi a8l tdi a8 rear tail

Styling/Design:

The curved all LED headlights of the A8 are unmistakably Audi, but make the front of the car look large and with a sad expression.  Still, most people out there will instantly recognize it as the Audi flagship.  The overall design is conservative and has aged well.  It even looks good in white.  And the blacked out roof with a panoramic sunroof is a nice touch.  All this car needs now is tinted windows, and it is ready to carry diplomats or celebrities.  This car does have automatic rear window and rear door sun shades (aka. privacy shades).

Speaking of the interior, what a wonderful place to be.  Both front seats are tour de force of latest technology.  There are more adjustments than you can comprehend, heating/cooling, and five different massage setting (each massage with varying intensity).  This car costs a hair under $100K and interior materials and quality are there to back up the price.  You will find fine soft leather, wood trim, and buttons of metal, piano black finish, and plastic variety.  This multitude of textile materials keeps the driver more engaged in the experience.  The steering wheel is of course heated and feels great.

2014 audi a8 interior dash cluster

Audi MMI infotainment interface is still one of the best solutions.  It’s quick to get acquainted with it, and Google maps and search is a very welcome addition.  However, voice recognition commands are still way too limited and difficult to interact with.  It wants you to say predetermined phrases, and often cannot understand.  I would have thought in this day and age, a $100K luxury vehicle would have figured out how to integrate Siri-like voice interaction.

Powertrain:

The big story for 2014 lies under the hood.  This A8 is packing a 3.0-liter V6 TDI turbocharged diesel engine, and this is the first time diesel power has been introduced in United States.  Of course, TDI is synonymous with Audi and Volkswagen, so this is not a surprise to customers on this side of the pond.  This car is EPA rated at 24 MPG city and 36 MPG highway.  Not too shabby for a luxury liner that weighs 4,564 lbs and measures 17.3 ft in length.  This motor produces 240 hp @ 3,550 rpm and a luxurious 406 lb-ft @ 1,750 rpm.  This is the quietest and most refined diesel car that I have tried.  It moves out with authority, being pushed forward by all the low end torque.  The acceleration slows down a little beyond 45 mph, but the engine revs quickly and the 8-speed automatic transmission performs flawlessly.  Audi rates this car at 6.4 sec 0-60 MPH.

2014 audi a8 tdi diesel engine mpg

After a week of mixed city and highway driving, I averaged 28.8 MPG.  I took a 20 mile highway trip, averaging around 65 mph, and the trip computer displayed an average of 41.1 MPG.  Impressive!  On the highway, the engine turns between 1,200-1,400 rpm to maintain speed and the transmission stays in 8th gear almost the whole time, thanks to the torque.

Handling/Ride:

You would think that this large and heavy car would be a handful around corners.  However, driving and handling dynamics of the A8L are most surprising.  The car seems to shrink around you the harder you push it into corners.  The adjustable air suspension and whatever other magic the folks from Ingolstadt put it does wonders.  The stretched 122.9 inch wheelbase and comfort suspension setting make for one of the smoothest rides.  The dynamic suspension setting firms things up and provides excellent body control with virtually no lean.  The steering is equally as good.  It provides very good feedback and cornering feel with just the right amount of weighting in Auto mode.  Dynamic steering mode adds almost too much weight.  If you keep this setting on all the time, you will be getting improved muscle tone in your forearms and shoulders.  This car may look like a straight line cruiser from the outside, but it also has a fun, corner loving character.

IMG_2435

Competitors:


Starting Retail Price City/Hwy MPG HP / Lb-Ft
2014 Audi A8L TDI Quattro $82,500 24/36 240/408
2014 BMW 740Li xDrive $81,000 19/28 315/330
2014 BMW ActiveHybrid7 $84,300 22/30 350/360
2014 Hyundai Equus $61,000 15/23 429/376
2014 Lexus LS 460L AWD $81,925 16/23  360/347
2013 Mercedes-Benz S350 BlueTEC 4Matic $93,905  21/31  240/455
2013 Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid $93,255 19/25 295/284

Customers of this segment have high brand loyalty and discerning tastes.  The Audi A8 is trailing its German rivals in sales by a large margin, but Audi brings a relatively light weight, economical, and sporty car.  A8 sales are up 16.7% so far this year with 4,634 units sold through September.  BMW 7 Series grew by 5.8%, and Mercedes S-class saw a -7.2% decline over the same period.

On the TFLcar scale of:

  • Buy it!
  • Lease it!
  • Rent it!
  • … or Forget it!

I give the 2014 Audi A8L TDI a Buy It!

This test car stickered at $99,445.  It has around $17,000 of options, including Bang & Olufsen audio system, premium and driver assist packages, but it is still missing about $15,000 of options.  That’s correct, there is still room to add more features worthy of a small economy car.  This A8L did not have a Sport Plus package, night vision, luxury interior, cold weather, rear seat comfort and DVD packages.  Basically, there is a lot more comfort you can add for the rear passengers, and get a little better handling too.  Still, this is one of the best driving and most comfortable cars I have ever tried, and it gets a Buy It! rating.


http://www.tflcar.com/2013/10/review-2014-audi-a8l-tdi-luxury-power-diesel/

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