The A8 L W12 is the absolute top of Audi's product line, a car combining luxury and sporty handling. The L means this is the long wheelbase version, affording extra leg room in the rear seats, while the W12 refers to the car's engine, a massive 6-liter 12 cylinder.
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Although an ultimate luxury car, the A8 L W12 uses standard Audi styling in front, with the big grille extending through the bumper. A window in the lower portion of the grille houses the forward-looking radar, used for adaptive cruise control and collision mitigation.
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The headlight casing has LED daytime running lights, although it doesn't have the LED parking strip lights used in the R8, A5, and new A4.
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The engine is two V-6es set side-by-side and intertwined. With 6-liters and 12 cylinders, it creates 450 horsepower and 428 pound-feet of torque. It is thirsty, though, getting 13 mpg city and 19 mpg highway.
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The A8 has typically refined European styling. It looks good, but doesn't particularly stand out. The extra length of the L version means rear seat passengers are partially hidden by the C pillars.
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The A8 L W12 comes standard with Quattro all-wheel-drive, giving the big car impressive cornering ability.
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The optional blind spot warning system turns on LEDs in the mirror mount when a car is in the lane next to the A8. It is a good system, but only works above about 40 mph.
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The interior materials befit the A8's luxury, with stitched leather covering the dashboard and seats. The ceiling and pillars are covered in a soft fabric.
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We were impressed by the A8 L's handling. Although it's not the kind of car you would expect to take sport driving, it pivots nicely in the corners.
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The instrument cluster gets wood trim surrounding the gauges, a nice touch. In this image, the adaptive cruise control is active. The green lights on the speedometer show that the A8 is tracking the car in front of it.
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The six speed automatic transmission works nicely in sport mode, downshifting when you apply the brakes before a corner. There is also a manual mode. The A8 uses Audi's standard MMI controller for controlling navigation, audio, and cell phone.
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The car's adaptive air suspension leads to a very smooth ride over rough surfaces, and contributes to stability in hard cornering.
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Audi has one of the best rear-view cameras in the business, with overlay lines that curve when the wheels are turned, showing the path of the car.
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This rotary dial system for letter input is a little tedious. Fortunately, the A8 L also has a voice command system.
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The maps look good on the A8 L's navigation system, but there are no advanced features, such as live traffic.
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Route guidance instructions appear on the instrument cluster display, a useful addition.
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The cell phone integration is excellent, importing phone books easily and making the contacts accessible.
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The A8 L comes with Sirius satellite radio amongst its many audio sources.
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The Audi Music Interface lets you connect an iPod, USB drive, or any other audio device through an auxiliary input. The iPod integration is excellent.
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There is also a CD changer in the glove compartment that can read MP3 CDs. The interface merely lets you browse folders.
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The Bang & Olufsen digital signal processor lets you adjust the surround sound level and focus the audio on the driver, front seats, rear seats, or the entire cabin.
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The optional Bang & Olufsen audio system delivers the best sound we've ever heard in a car. It uses 14 speakers each with its own amp and over 1,000 watts. This subwoofer sits on the rear deck with full range drivers to either side.
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As a super luxury car, the A8 L has this optional refrigerator between the rear seats, perfect for a couple of champagne bottles.
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LCDs embedded in the headrests are part of the standard rear seat DVD entertainment system.
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The DVD changer is hidden in the trunk, behind a panel. This cartridge system is a little cheap for such a nice car.
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