Our Group Sales Support Team Manager, Mark King, swaps his sports SUV for Audi’s most luxurious model yet, the Audi A8.
Through supporting our Business Development Centres, from Glasgow to Brighton and almost everywhere in between, my role requires a fair bit of travelling.
And I’ll drive myself, usually. At the moment I’m in an Audi SQ5 – one of the manufacturer’s sports SUVs. And before that, the equally sporty Audi S5 cabriolet and S5 Sportback.
There’s a trend here.
From rapid, to relax
Granted, I’m more familiar with the tuned models developed for a quicker 0-60mph time, than with the more relaxed models in the line-up.
One of those is the Audi A8 – showcasing the manufacturer’s ability to build something a lot more ‘prestige’.
So, when given the opportunity to take one on the 340-mile round trip to our Manchester head office and back, I was swayed into stepping out of my comfort zone – or was I stepping into it?
Audi’s grandest model?
The new Q8 probably takes the title for the largest model, but the A8 might be the most imposing when it comes to spec, at least.
It’s a large executive saloon, and that’s in its standard size – it also comes as the A8 L, with the longer wheelbase and even more passenger room in the back.
The model I drove was dressed in the S Line spec, in a smart black coat with chrome detailing and huge 20-inch alloys.
Despite the size however, they didn’t look overly big or flashy. The alloys give a sporty touch, without taking away from the clean appearance – something I expect will appeal to those wanting a luxury saloon.
Luxury doesn’t mean lethargic
Although it looks more sensible than the models in the S range, the A8 isn’t lacking on power.
Its 3.0-litre V6 diesel peaks at around 280bhp, and if you want it to, will carry itself from 0-60 in under six seconds – a very impressive result considering it weighs about two tonnes.
The manner in which it does so is what sets it apart, however. It’ll accelerate to motorway speed effortlessly, but without screaming up the rev counter.
And when it gets there, it’ll carry on at little more than a murmur. The A8 is definitely a cruiser, but one that’ll get you where you’re going pretty quickly if you want it to.
Even still, I got a 49mpg reading for the few days I had it – an excellent score considering its size and engine power.
The focus is inside
It’s little surprise that Audi’s focus when marketing the A8 was ‘what’s on the inside’.
The comfort and convenience that it’ll ferry you about in is the main selling point here. With a host of features as standard, and even more optional, Audi really is going for the top of the class.
The seats can be electronically adjusted in 22 ways, with electric lumbar support in the front seats. Performance-wise, the A8 also has adaptive air suspension and quattro all-wheel-drive, for an even smoother ride.
You can even get blinds for the rear windows and in S Line, acoustic double glazing as standard. All trims come with the option of two Android ‘Audi tablets’ in the rear, and digital TV reception – there’s not much it won’t do.
Touchscreen satnav and heating controls
The central controls might be among the best-looking in any car. Maps on the satnav use satellite imagery, rather than the typical map view, and look great on the 10-inch primary screen.
Just below sits the second 8-inch screen, that’s big enough to rival the main screens in a lot of other cars. It houses the heating and air con controls, all accessed and operated using touch.
It’s without doubt one of the easiest-to-use control panels I’ve come across, with an uncluttered arrangement of buttons and icons that would be hugely useful if you were to opt for the many comfort upgrades.
Most would be impressed by the A8’s tech and luxe, no matter where you’re sitting inside.
Shall I bring the car round?
And that’s perhaps the point of the Audi A8 – it’s as much a driver’s car as it is a passenger’s.
With a seemingly limitless list of features, for both driver and passenger, it’s a car that’ll appeal to the chauffeurs (both professional and otherwise), and also the passengers they carry.
I’m still stuck on the models in Audi’s sports range, but there’s no doubt that the A8 offers an exceptional level of comfort that really sets it apart from every other car by the manufacturer.
I might prefer driving an SQ5 or S5, but I certainly know which I’d rather be a passenger in.
Find out more on the Audi A8 at www.lookers.co.uk/audi/new-cars/audi-a8/.