Worth a flirt
AUDI’S top-shelf product passes the taste test. NEIL DOWLING reports
I DON’T go to bars anymore — an old war wound caused by a surgeon, you understand — but to me they’re not much different to a new car showroom.
You know before you even reach the glass front door that you could exchange a lot of money for fleeting thrills.
If it’s a luxury car, that thrill could cost you upwards to $300,000 and the next morning’s hangover would be $50,000-plus in depreciation. So you want to get it right. Consider the Audi A8, Jaguar XJ andBMW750i.
Compared with the Jaguar XJ, the A8 is unobtrusive. Compared to the BMW 750i, the A8 is feminine.
Let me put this in blokespeak. Sashay into a dim bar after dark and you’d immediately lust after the XJ.
There’s no doubt that with the XJ absent, you’d flirt with the A8 at the bar.
If it was the 750i, you’d be attracted but always wonder what’s under the skirt.
But looks aren’t everything. VALUE: It’s unlikely Audi A8 buyers just won Lotto.
This, like the BMW and the Jaguar, is an Amex trinket designed for the ‘‘love ‘em-leave ‘em’’ coolness of the corporate world.
Value is, of course, subjective to how much you have in your wallet. Or the colour of your Amex.
The A8 is top of the wozzer for hi-tech equipment and is the only Audi sedan to get the 4.2-litre V8 engine and eight-speed auto box with all-wheel drive — an enticing package. TECHNOLOGY: Let me impress you— the A8 is a wonder of aluminium castings and tubes over which is stretched 11 taut body panels, also made of aluminium.
The engine is also aluminium and the bits that are left are leather, wool carpet, slices of trees and rubber. There’s steel in there somewhere but it’s not on show.
The V8 comes standard—
the 3-litre V6 turbo-diesel is an option — with its impressive eight-speed auto and chassis dynamics that let you dial in the air suspension’s firmness and engine/steering response.
It has a brilliant sat-nav system and TV, plus lots of buttons and strips of wood and perforated and quilted leather seats. DESIGN: It is contemporary but conservatively styled, appearing that the designer wanted to appease all possible buyers.
During the drawing process, he somehow found himself stroll too far into an accountant’s loungeroom.
The sum of the exoticallymade parts is a shape that is taut, trim and utterly efficient — but not seductive and doesn’t portray the sticker price or the technology beneath its skin.
Inside, it doesn’t feel big and even the rear seat room isn’t limousine class - though there’s a long wheelbase version.
But— and it’s a big but— the workmanship is superb. SAFETY: Lots of airbags, heaps of electronic aids and the size of the A8 go a long way in attempting to preserve its occupants.
There’s nothing wanting here and, at nearly a quarter of a million bucks, there wouldn’t want to be. VERDICT: Lovely job in terms of quality and technology but buyers may be lured more to the more stylish offerings, such as the Jaguar XJ.
What we like: Quality, fuel economy, comfort
What we dislike: Bit bland, expensive, depreciation.
FAST FACTS AUDI A8 Origin: Germany Price: $225,904 Engine: 4.2-litre, V8 Power: 273kW@ 6800rpm Torque: 445Nm@ 3500rpm Top speed: 250km/h Fuel: Premium unleaded Economy (tested): 10.6 litres/100km Greenhouse: 219g/km Transmission: Eightspeed...