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Audi A8: fun at a cost

08/27/2006

Audi A8
Torque doesn't come cheap in Audi's V8 uber-diesel but, mein gott, there's plenty of it.
...

What do you do when it's mere moments from the only hour of TV that you really need to watch every week and the power goes out?

If an Audi A8 4.2-litre V8 TDI just happens to be parked in your driveway, you simply leave the sitting room and turn the massive diesel's power on.

Not only is this A8 blessed with an earth-moving, twin-turbo monster under the bonnet, it also has a TV tuner.

Crisis solved.

If it looked a little odd bathed in the glow of Top Gear while seated in a darkened street it was certainly comfortable with the heater on.

The only downer was being unable to toast my marshmallows, as seat heating is an option in a car that comes in at more than the double tonne in price and weight.

Moving along, the A8's fun factor increases exponentially....

The 246kW and 650Nm produced by its 4.2 V8 could put a smile on anyone's dial and if our locally based manufacturers would explore diesels, maybe our government fleets could be run with less pain to the taxpayer.

Having kicked around town for two days, it was off down the freeway just to see how the A8's quattro grip held on.

On the open road at 110km/h, the big diesel barely gets above idling speed; this car could cruise at double that velocity and still have abundant overtaking power up its sleeve.

Many times, while going around slower vehicles, the reins had to be well and truly tugged to get it back on the right side of the lane markers.

Once the A8 has a sniff of an open throttle, holding it back is as much a job as keeping it at normal speeds.

The latter task is best left to Audi's version of radar cruise control. Once set, it will keep the car travelling at your desired speed until other traffic is encountered and overtaken safely.

I found it better than the version tried recently in BMW's 550i designated 10km/h increments work better than guessing via gauges.

Ride quality is, of course, excellent, with adaptive air-cushioned suspension constantly monitoring road conditions and driver inputs to deliver the optimum combination.

It's so good that a few times I was caught out on corners that sharpened mid-apex it could also have been due to the long drive after the working week and a slightly docile driver at the wheel.

Audi cabin comfort gets top marks, as always.

The front seats have more power than certain cheap cars, and with the vast amount of space in the rear you'd have to be running a multi-national media empire to need the even bigger A8L version.

The power-operated boot (opening and closing) has enough room for your Sunday-morning golf clubs and luggage for the drive to your country house.

Most impressive is that, even carrying this sort of weight, the V8 diesel ate up the kilometres effortlessly and achieved an amazing 900km from one tank of the smelly stuff.

It was filled up above the reserve fuel level only to hose down my lovely wife's paranoia at the prospect of having to hitch a ride near the Belanglo State Forest.

At least we could have watched telly while we waited.

Almost worth $210,000, when you think about it ...

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Audi A8: fun at a cost
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