The 2009 Audi A8 L W12
Even though the Audi A8 or S8 get more press, the real flagship sedan from the Bavarian automaker is the A8 L W12 quattro. Within this top level of luxury, Audi offers either a V-8 good for 350 horses or a 6.0 liter 450 hp W-12 engine that will motivate most owners to give the chauffeur the day off and take the long way to work.
All of the A8 versions employ a six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. But in addition to the optional W-12 engine, the “L” in the model designation of Audi’s flagship indicates a lengthened wheelbase that provides seating for five. Impressively, the largest of Audi’s sedans is still an incredibly nimble and fun car to drive. No doubt due to the application of Audi’s renowned all-wheel-drive “Quattro” technology, the car handles nicely despite its added size. With the most powerful W12 engine the A8 is capable of reaching 60 mph in 5 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 155. Not that you would know it by those numbers, but ride quality and not performance is the central concern for this version of the A8 as opposed to the more aggressive S8. In that regard, the A8 L W12 really shines with a smooth and stable ride in almost any but the most extreme driving conditions.
450 hp Audi W12 Engine
The W12 and its additional horsepower predictably reduce fuel efficiency on a car that wasn’t exactly thrifty to begin with. While the V8 versions of the A8 achieve 16 and 23 mpg in city and highway driving, the W12 only manages 15 and 21 mpg in similar conditions.
With its low stance, chiseled lines and gaping central grille that is common to the entire Audi line, the A8 L W12 is definitely easy on the eyes. While the standard A8 is among the shortest full-size luxury sedans, the A8 L adds essentially 5 inches to both the overall length and to the rear doors making for easy access to seating. The longer wheelbase adds plenty of room in its back for two long adults to stretch their legs and get in and out of the back. The long length is a problem if one is trying to park the vehicle in small spaces, though one can’t imagine many owners of this car trying to turn into a parking spot at the local Sam’s Club.
A8 L Rear Seat
Audi seems to have conceded that offering “Premium luxury” package for a car that is clearly already in that category as nonsensical and for 2009 they have simplified things by making those features standard. Consequently, the list of standard high-end appointments for this luxury car is befitting its 6-figure price tag. In addition to the navigation system, 10 airbags, electronic stability system, 16-way adjustable power front seats, four-zone climate control, HID headlights, Parktronic parking system and 12 speaker Bose music that comes standard, the W12 adds keyless entry and remote car starting, powered door closers, vented and heated seats and a wood steering wheel. The “side assist” feature alerts the driver when vehicles are alongside and with “lane assist” the steering wheel vibrates if the A8 nears a painted lane marking and the turn signal hasn’t been activated. A 1000 watt music system manufactured by Bang and Olufsen a Sports package that adds a sports-tuned suspension and 20 inch tires are also options.
Not surprisingly, with all of its premium qualities, Audi demands a premium price for the W12 version of the A8 beginning over $120,000. Chauffeur not included.