2014 Audi A8L: India Review

Visibly the upgrades on the new Audi A8L might seem subtle, but the changes prominent enough to keep luxury saloons buyers engrossed



2014 Audi A8L India review front design




Who doesn’t like being pampered? Don’t we all crave for finer things in life? When you are almost pooped after a tiring day at work, don’t you count your blessings that the engineers have done such wonders with your plush premium car? But loyalty these days are a rarity. And when you are almost sold to the premium luxury car, there comes another one to lure you. So till yesterday, the Audi A8L was a drool-worthy car with slick cabin design and perfect fit-finish. And in a jiffy, loyalties of the auto world shifted with the introduction of Mercedes-Benz S-Class.


So now with the score card 2-1, between Mercedes and Audi, the latter was compelled to up the ante to come back to the game. 


The outgoing Audi A8 had already used top drawer parts, so to raise the bar further; the A8 cabin now has an A-list only Louis Vinton kind of lounge feel. The exterior design has introduced subtle nips and tucks, only to make it look more attractive. The biggest attraction now is the new Matrix LED headlamps, which sadly comes as an optional package.



2014 Audi A8L - Matrix LED headlights




It is interesting to note here that Audi has been spearheading the light technology in passenger cars. After starting the LED revolution by using these tiny dots of lights as car accessory, they’ve taken a new path with the Matrix LEDs. It’s a complicated setting - 25 LEDs per headlamp connected to sensors and onboard cameras. The technology dims the individual LED if it senses a car, within a fraction of a second, and ensures they don’t get blinded by the bright eyes, yet continues to light up ahead.





Audi A8L front design




Besides the new LEDs, the design tweaks on the face-lifted Audi A8L makes it look more imposing than before. The impressive A8 has a new bonnet with more prominent creases, slightly different grille, and sharper bumpers with a neat looking single-slit air damp. The rear of the car also gets a makeover, with a new bootlid, LED taillights, trapezoidal exhaust and reshaped bumpers to match the ones in front. The side profile remains similar to the outgoing model, except for the fact that the 2014 Audi A8L has grown by 13mm in length.


There are changes on the inside as well, not much in terms of design but definitely with the overall look and feel. The fine Alcantara, matt wood and aluminium come together brilliantly in Audi’s benchmark craftsmanship. There’s an analogue Audi clock in the centre of the dashboard to add a bit of a classy feel to the otherwise modern cabin. I can live with the chunky yacht-inspired gear selector but there are a button too many on the centre console and they can get a tad confusing while you are on the move. I also prefer the way the MMI screen slides out or actually the way it retreats back and merges with the dashboard design. The cabin may not be as elegant as the Mercedes S-Class but the fit-and-finish is excellent, while the abundance of space and choicest of materials make the 2014 Audi A8L a fine recluse to be in.


Audi A8L Rear Seat Executive Package



Our test car came with the optional Rear Seat Executive Package. So, we had two individual seats for the comfort of the rear passengers, with a personal fridge, writing table, and massage function, individual LCD screens with controls for pretty much everything. If that wasn’t enough, there was an option to recline the rear seats and adjust it for thigh support. In addition to this, one could press a button to make the rear left seat to transform into a lounge sofa – with the front passenger seats pushed further ahead to create extra space and foot-rest sliding out to... er... rest your feet on.





2014 Audi A8L 3.0-litre TDI engine




Keeping true to the plush cabin is the ultra refined 3.0-litre TDI under the bonnet, which hardly has any diesel clatter. The spruced up new Audi A8L squeezes out 250PS and 580Nm out of this capable diesel V6. The TDI was never really slow, so the surplus output is difficult to feel on the go. Even with the tacho tipping towards the red-line, the diesel motors is surprisingly quiet, and there’s just a gentle hum of an exhaust note. 


The power delivery is silk smooth. Step on the throttle and the 2014 Audi A8 leaps elegantly, and you get that subtle power surge. No head pinning into the headrest, no growling motor, no drama. Just loads and loads of torque and the silky mid-range propelling you towards the horizon in one smooth, jerk-free action. The eight-speed transmission swaps the ratios seamlessly, to ensure the 1935kg saloon sails past the 200kmph effortlessly. The aluminium bodied Audi A8L has a slightly slower 0-100kmph claimed time of 6.2kmph owing to the extra 45kg weight over the older car. But efficiency is said to be increase by up to 30 per cent.



2014 Audi A8L rear




Most of the A8L buyers won’t be really looking at the car’s naught-to-hundred time, but what they will be keen to know is how well the car rides now. That’s why the Ingolstadt engineers have also revised the air-suspension setting of the 2014 Audi A8. The saloon has exceptional slow speed ride quality. In the city, slot to the ‘Comfort’ mode and it irons out pretty much all road imperfections, with just the most severe ones filtering through to the cabin. The high-profile 18-inch wheels also contribute to the cushioning, making it a great pair for our road conditions. 





2014 Audi A8L driving through a tunnel




It’s a big and heavy saloon, with a long bonnet which makes it pitch a bit over speed-breakers. But up the pace with driving mode in ‘Dynamic,’ and the rigid aluminium underpinning and quarto all-wheel-drive come to play — conquering fast corners with amazing ease and poise. The fat wheels hold on to the tarmac, and quarto probes you to exit at faster speeds. Even the electro-mechanical steering feels well weighed and is quite direct, though the feel is not very natural. The 2014 Audi A8L is unwittingly athletic for its segment and size. It’s definitely more fun to drive than the Mercedes S-Class.



2014 Audi A8L dashboard




If you’re planning to buy the 2014 Audi A8, then be sure to mark optional gizmos like the panoramic sunroof, automatic parking, rear seat entertainment, dynamic steering, 360-degree camera, Night Vision, Park Assist and heads-up display. My favourite being the optional Bang & Olfsen sound system which has mushroom-type speakers popping-out from the dashboard when one cranks the 2014 Audi A8L. And be prepared to shell out extra chunks over the Rs 1 crore price-tag.


The plot only thickens, considering that the new Mercedes S 350 is a few lakh cheaper than the completely imported 2014 Audi A8L 3.0 TDI which requires a cheque of Rs 1.13 crore (ex-showroom Delhi) for the standard version.




Recommended Variant : A8 L 50 TDI Premium Plus