High tech drive
A8 comfort comes at a price, writes Mark Hinchliffe
IM’ COCOONED in the cabin of an Audi A8 4.2 quatro with a Bang & Olufsen sound system and plush leather seats.
But this tranquil scene almost comes to an unhappy end when a car nips into the slot in front of the Audi.
However, the LCD screen goes red, a warning beep startles me, I step on the brakes which have been set up for a panic stop and the seatbelt pretensioners clinch me tight in my place. Welcome to the A8 world of technology, safety and luxury.
ALL this technology is not cheap. The saloon fits below the BMW 750i ($ 274,200) and Jaguar XJ 5.0 ($251,000) but above the Lexus LS460 ($ 191,164) and Mercedes S350 ($217,800). The A8 I am testing has a stack of options, taking the price to $261,969.
The standard seats come with 22 adjustments. The seats in the test car also have ventilation and a five-mode massage function costing $5500.
The test car also has adaptive cruise control ($ 5395), Bang & Olufsen sound ($14,430), rear electric blinds ($2670) and night vision assist that detects pedestrians ($5400).
THIS saloon has more electronic features than a space station. The multimedia interface has a touchpad like a laptop. Punch a number to quickly select a radio station, or you can use the voice control button on the steering wheel.
It also acts like a ‘‘magnadoodle’’. You can draw numbers, letters or characters with your finger to operate the Audi’s A8’s satnav, audio and onboard computer.
It recognises characters in Cyrillic, Chinese, Cantonese, Japanese and Korean as well as English.
The touchpad, main control knob and layout of the features are easy to learn and quite intuitive.
The technology also features the best satnav/infotainment LCD screen display I’ve seen in any car. It is vivid and clear in any light.
Even the analogue clock is hi-tech with its time set and maintained by GPS.
IF YOU don’t feel secure with all the airbags and advanced technology around you, there are plenty of options you can buy to make it even more secure.
These include cruise control which will keep you away from other traffic and even come to a full stop and start again; a pre-sense safety system; night vision that detects pedestrians; and lane and side assist to keep you on the straight and narrow.
THIS saloon is well-mannered, quiet, refined and plush. Passengers will be lulled by its genteel ways and the mood strip lighting in the ceiling and around the doors. But the steering feels rather disconnected and numb.
As for the 4.2-litre V8 engine, it gets along quite well and pulls with ease, but I would have expected a smoother and more controlled power delivery from this torquey V8.
A FINE example of advanced technology and engineering in a handsome, safe and comfortable package, but there are a few rough edges, especially for the driver.
Cruisy control: the Audi A8 offers a range of smart safety features.