If you look at it from a distance, the Audi A8 D4 is pretty much a bigger A6. And if you look even further, an Audi A6 is a bigger A4. Basically, the Audi A8 D4 is an A4 XXL. Then why buy one A8 when you can buy 2-3 A4s?
And this works to the advantage of the Audi A8 D4. There is a hierarchy of transport vehicles. E Class is the standard taxi car in Europe and if you want an Uber to take you from the airport to the next meeting, you have a good chance of finding a BMW 5 Series. But what do you do when you’re even more VIP than that and you don’t want to be ferried around in a peasantly 5 Series? Sure, you could use a Mercedes Viano shuttle, tailor-made for the most demanding of clients, but at the end of the day it’s still a van.
So if you are the kind of VIP to smother the rear end only on the seat of a luxury taxi, then you will see that the Audi A8 D4 pretty much sits alone in this tree. Yes, of course, you still have the 7 Series and S Class, but those tend to be fleet cars and the Audi A8 D4 is somehow popular with luxury taxi drivers. I don’t know why people are so attracted to the A8. Maybe it’s very discreet or maybe it’s because it’s the cheapest from the Teutonic trilogy, as if a few thousand euros are relevant in this class. At the time of writing, the basic Audi A8 D4 is 2000 euros cheaper than the basic 7 Series and 5,000 euros cheaper than a basic S Class. But again, the Audi A8 D4 starts at 97,700 euros, does 2000 euros really matter at this price range?
But at least it’s reliable. The first A8 was decent, the next A8 was spectacular but also a disaster but at least they made their way into the luxury zone and now the third generation, Audi A8 D4, has worked on reliability and less on the bells and whistles. Perfect for the highway ferry between the airport and the headquarters of the multinational.
Audi A8 D4 Engines
- 3.0 TFSI of 290 and 333 horsepower – The same 3.0 TFSI we are used to and which was famous for its problems with the timing stretchers and oil consumption. Fortunately, VW has been working on this and they have been working on it since 2014 and they promise us that post-2014 engines should not suffer from incontinence anymore.
- 4.0 V8 TFSI of 420, 435, 520 and 605 horsepower – This engine can be found on the Bentley Continental GT, Audi S6, S7, RS6 and generally exotic stuff. You’d think that’s some really crazy wizardy at work here, but the reality is much simpler than that. This 4.0 V8 TFSI is actually 2 2.0 TFSI engines taken from the Golf GTI and mounted in “V”. So, you have a very reliable engine but it needs it’s oil changed every 8-10,000 km.
- 4.2 FSI V8 of 372 horsepower – Retired in 2012 by the 4.0 TFSI, this relic of the past has been quite reliable, but only if you take care of the constant carbon deposits on the valves. Repeat, constant.
- 6.3 W12 of 500 horsepower – Somewhere in Ingolstadt, some engineers were having a Pielsner at the pub, looked at the monstrous 6.0 W12 and thought “Nein!” and they were tormented by the thought that the engine was much too small and the 450 horsepower barely could pull a VW Fox, let alone an A8. So they enlarged it to 6.3 and gave it 50 horsepower for a fabulous but round 500 horsepower. Fabulously strong, but it is as crowded as a studio in London where the rent is 5000 euros / month and you have the toilet right next to he bed. When you are in bed and you feel sick, you can easily throw up in the toilet. No stress, no effort.
- 3.0 TDI of 204 and 250 horsepower – VW has perfected this engine since the 2000s and today you should have the most logical, reliable and economical engine for highway driving. Careful though with the AdBlue installation and sometimes with the injectors.
- 4.2 TDI of 350 and 385 horsepower – Just as the Audi A8 is a bigger A6 so is the 4.2 TDI a bigger 3.0 TDI. Equally reliable, but when a more important part breaks down, get your ass ready for a WWE smackdown.
2.0 TFSI hybrid of 245 horsepower – No. I will not be a hater like Simon Cowell. I’ll say it’s an experimental charriot. Unlike Mercedes and BMW, which put their electric motors to work to maximize the 2 million horsepower already available from conventional engines, Audi has gone on the route of fuel economy and reliability. I’m still not convinced and I don’t recommend it to you either because it doesn’t have the punch nor the fuel economy. But what’s worse is that this engine comes with a special transmission that you can only find here, the rest having the classic torque-converter Tiptronic.
Audi A8 D4 General Issues
- The aluminum bodywork was still somewhat of an unique thing going on for the Audi A8 and for which it is famous. You have two major advantages to aluminum construction – first of all you have a lighter car so either you make it more dynamic or you can load more technology. The second major advantage is that it does not rust. The major disadvantage instead is that any blow, hole or bending of the bodywork will be excruciatingly expensive and difficult to repair.
- It’s a luxury class limousine, so it must come with standard air suspension. And if you know anything about air suspension, you know that you will have to replace the components often.
- Sports editions come with ceramic brakes which is very good for performance but very bad for the wallet. Okay, they are theoretically presented as life-time, but when those disks crack you will pay the equivalent of an A8 D3 in good condition.
- The TipTronic automatic transmission remains the old fashioned torque converter unit. Very reliable in theory, but still needs oil and filter change every 60,000 km.
Audi A8 D4 Verdict
Audi A8 D4 is the opposite when compared to the other two premium class sedans. If the 7 Series and S Class go strongly in the ostentatious area and billions of horsepower, the Audi A8 started off aggressively initially but now it’s lounging about on relaxation and comfort (see, now I wrote comfort properly). And in this way they absorbed an interesting market segment – businessmen and VIPs who need a taxi to take them from the airport to where they need, in discretion and total comfort. But people who think the 5 Series is too cheap for them and want to move on to the next level. You will not break the asphalt with an A8 D4, but you will not break your spine or zen driving on the roads either.
Which engines do I recommend? For petrol I will have to recommend the fabulous 4.0 TFSI V8 of 435 horsepower, and for diesel and the engine you’ll ever need is the quiet and refined 3.0 TDI of 204 horsepower.