2013 Audi A8 Sedan - FROM $72,200
The 2013 Audi A8 remains a top pick among luxury sedans thanks to its impressive performance, comfort, high-tech features and impeccable build quality.
What's New for 2013
For 2013, the 4.2-liter V8 engine featured in the Audi A8 in previous model years has been replaced by a supercharged V6 that delivers even better performance. Later in the year, a more powerful V8 and diesel V6 will also join the A8 lineup.
Apparently downsizing has now become upscale. At least in the United States, Audi A8s have historically been powered by V8 or W12 engines. The 2013 Audi A8, however, marks the first time that a V6-equipped version of Audi's flagship sedan has made it to our shores. The results might surprise you.
The natural assumption leads most to think a V6 wouldn't be a good match with this big sedan's size and weight -- certainly not as good as a V8, in any case.Generating 333 horsepower, the new supercharged 3.0-liter V6 is down 39 hp and 3 pound-feet of torque compared to the previous 4.2-liter V8. We expected the V6 car to be marginally slower as a result, but it's actually marginally quicker than the V8. Meanwhile, the supercharged V6 car's fuel economy is essentially identical to that of the normally aspirated V8.
For these reasons, we doubt anyone would miss the former V8, although a new and more powerful V8 will be added to the A8 lineup later in the year, along with a diesel-fueled V6. Meanwhile, the 6.3-liter W12 remains the same as before, the perfect choice for those who think too much is just enough.
Engines aside, the 2013 Audi A8 maintains its place in the top tier of luxury sedans. It delivers a very high level of old-world luxury and comfort, along with a healthy dose of high-tech features that should delight any early adopter. This big Audi also manages to balance performance and luxury in a way that should appeal to drivers of all stripes. And for those who desire more emphasis on the performance side of the big sedan proposition, there's also a forthcoming Audi S8, which is covered in a separate review.
Like its rivals, the A8 features an artful blend of understated styling, excellent craftsmanship and exemplary interior materials. Picking a winner among them isn't easy, but then again, there's not a loser in the bunch. The BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class mostly place an emphasis on luxury, while the Jaguar XJ and Porsche Panamera have more sporting demeanors. Those looking for a middle ground would do well to try out the 2013 Audi A8.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Audi A8 is a luxury sedan that is offered in 3.0T, 3.0T LWB (long wheelbase) and W12 L trim levels that correspond to the engine and wheelbase types.
Standard features for the base 3.0T include 19-inch alloy wheels, adaptive xenon headlights, LED running lights, headlight washers, a sunroof, an adaptive air suspension, dual-zone automatic climate control, auto-dimming and power-folding mirrors, heated 12-way adjustable front seats with power lumbar support, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, aluminum and wood interior trim and a power rear sunshade. Electronic features include a navigation system, Audi's MMI electronics interface, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a Bose surround-sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and an iPod interface. Also included is Audi Connect (enhanced Web-based navigation, information and WiFi access).
As an option, buyers can add the Convenience package, which includes a power trunklid, keyless ignition/entry, parking sensors, a rearview camera and soft-close power doors. The Warm Weather package adds four-zone automatic climate control and power rear window sunshades. The Extended Leather package covers even more of the cabin in luxurious leather. Opting for the long-wheelbase version of the 3.0T adds all of these packages in addition to piano-black interior inlays.
Either normal- or long-wheelbase models are eligible for the Comfort package, which features 14-way power front seats with ventilation, massaging, adjustable bolsters and multiple lumbar adjustments. The Sport Design package includes the Comfort package items but adds 20-inch wheels and upgraded leather upholstery. For a sportier A8, the Sport Plus package applies summer tires, a sport-tuned suspension, adaptive steering and a sports differential. The Cold Weather package features a heated steering wheel with shift paddles, a rear-seat pass-through with ski bag and heated rear seats. The Driver Assistance package includes adaptive cruise control, a blind-spot monitor, a lane-departure warning system and a pre-braking system.
Stand-alone options include full LED headlights, a panoramic sunroof, dual-pane acoustic windows, a solar sunroof (powers a ventilation fan to keep the car cool), a premium Bang & Olufsen sound system, a night vision camera (an infrared camera to detect animals and pedestrians up to 1,000 feet away), a rear-seat entertainment system (with two 10-inch headrest-mounted screens) and a choice of several headliners and interior trim elements.
The prestige-level W12 L is essentially a fullyloaded four-seat model that includes almost all of the above listed features. Options include an Executive Rear Seat Comfort package (a reclining passenger-side seat with power footrest and a refrigerator in place of the trunk pass-through but the front passenger seat is reduced to 10-way adjustable without massage), the Driver Assistance package, a W12 Sport package (same features as the Sport Plus package), the Bang &Olufsen sound system, night vision camera, solar sunroof and full leather interior. A fifth seat can be added at no cost but is not compatible with the Executive Rear Seat Comfort package.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering the base model 2013 Audi A8 is a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 that produces 333 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. All of this power is channeled through an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. In Edmunds testing, a long-wheelbase version of this car with the optional Sport Plus package accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds, which is quicker than every V6-powered competitor and just off the pace of those packing V8s.
Also standard on the V6 is an automatic stop/start feature that shuts the engine off when the car comes to a stop. It helps to increase fuel economy, which is quite good for this class of car at an EPA-estimated 17 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 21 mpg in combined driving.
Audi A8s with the 6.3-liter W12 engine benefit from 500 hp and 463 lb-ft of torque. As with the V6, an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive are standard. Audi claims it will reach 60 mph in a scant 4.4 seconds, while the EPA estimates fuel economy at 14/21/16 mpg.
Details regarding the new V8 and diesel V6 are forthcoming.
Standard safety equipment for every 2013 Audi A8 includes antilock brakes, stability and traction control, full-length side curtain airbags, front- and rear-seat side airbags and active front headrests. The optional Driver Assistance package also includes a blind spot monitor and lane-departure warning system, as well as Audi Pre-Sense Plus, which monitors traffic and alerts the driver if a potential collision is detected.
In Edmunds brake testing of a V6-powered A8 with the optional summer tires included with the Sport Plus package, the car came to a stop from 60 mph in an impressively short 104 feet. All-season tires delivered a stop of 121 feet, which is average for similarly equipped cars in the class.
Interior Design and Special Features
As Audi's flagship, the 2013 A8 represents the best that the company has to offer. With the best materials combined with impeccable craftsmanship, the cabin is one of the finest in any flagship luxury sedan.
As you'd expect, comfort is a priority and the A8 delivers it in heaping portions. The upgraded seats found in the Comfort package adjust in so many ways that Audi needed to invent a more advanced means of controlling them, and they ultimately ensure that drivers of any size or shape will find an optimal position to motor away countless miles. Rear-seat comfort is also noteworthy, especially in the long-wheelbase versions that provide an expansive 43 inches of rear legroom.
For technophiles, Audi's Multi Media Interface provides a long list of functions through a crystal-clear display. There's a bit of a learning curve to it, but with a little time, control of numerous systems becomes second nature. The unique remote touchpad, which doubles as a radio preset panel, may seem like a superfluous novelty at first, but it turns out to be as useful as it is cool.
If there's one complaint that seems to come up more than others, it would be the A8's lack of trunk space. At a paltry 13.2 cubic feet, cargo capacity is far below that of its competitors and not nearly adequate to accommodate luggage for four adults.
When we heard that a supercharged V6 would replace the base V8, the news was met with quite a bit of skepticism. As it turns out, the new V6 is actually quicker to 60 mph, if only by a few tenths of a second. We contend that few drivers would ever suspect the difference between the two engines.
Power is plentiful, whether under acceleration or cruising down the highway. Passing slower cars is effortless and the brakes are equally up to the task of bringing the big sedan to a halt.
With its all-wheel drive, automatic air suspension and crisp steering response, the A8 handles like a smaller, lighter sport sedan. Yet over broken pavement the Audi flagship delivers a compliant, composed ride fully in keeping with its luxury sedan status. We also like its electronically adjustable settings for the chassis and engine calibration, which provide a much greater degree of driver customization than BMW's similar system.
All things considered, the 2013 Audi A8 is a worthy competitor among world-class luxury sedans. While the gap between its rivals is narrow, the Audi does distinguish itself by being more of a "driver's" car, rather than being an isolation chamber.