2014 Audi A8 TDI Road Trip
2014 Audi A8 TDI Road Trip. Click image to enlarge

Article and photos by Steven Bochenek

It was one of the most fun vacations the missus and I had in years because we hadn’t built it up. Quick, with no once-in-a-lifetime experiences to boast about on Facebook, it was just a few fun days visiting friends, trying new experiences in beautiful surroundings.

Each day there were dozens of surprises and thrills. Many were courtesy of the Audi A8 TDI. Favoured by bank presidents and diplomats, it made the mega-highways and ugly traffic tolerable, and the interesting roads an absolute thrill.

Day 1 – The Relaxing Trip to Lake Memphremagog

We picked the A8 up at 11am on Thursday, August 1 from Audi Canada’s head office in Whitby, Ontario. As seems to happen every year, I was suddenly crazy-busy with work just when leaving. A client needed something done right away. So my wife drove the first leg to Kingston, Ontario while I typed on my lap.

2014 Audi A8 TDI Road Trip
2014 Audi A8 TDI Road Trip. Click image to enlarge

Our destination was a friend’s cottage on Lake Memphremagog. It’s in Quebec’s eastern townships and is easier to say than it looks. The ride was deliciously comfortable, provided by the A8’s adaptive air suspension. But here in the passenger’s seat for once, there was also an opportunity to futz with the controls more.

For a mere $3,500 extra, you can add the Comfort Seat Package. Do it! It includes ventilation for cooling and heating, which is great, and front seats adjustable in a humbling twenty-two different ways. That was a treat for the back – but the pneumatic massage function was more like a four-course meal.

Yes, massage.

You choose where the seat-masseuse focuses: Shoulder or Lumbar; or get the entire back with Stretch, Pulse and Wave settings. The massaging stops automatically after a few minutes. Sensible. You don’t want some blissed-out driver drifting off to sleep. But having sustained a back injury recently, I just kept putting it back on. (Two days earlier, I’d experienced the exceptionally comfortable V-shaped seats in the 2013 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid and raved about them. These trumped the experience.) A decent massage costs at least $75 per hour [we’re not expensing that! – Ed.]. Another week in the A8 and this package would have paid itself off in spa bills.

2014 Audi A8 TDI Road Trip2014 Audi A8 TDI Road Trip2014 Audi A8 TDI Road Trip
2014 Audi A8 TDI Road Trip. Click image to enlarge

By Kingston, we’d come 200 km in the A8 and achieved an impressive 6.3 L/100km. Its Energuide highway stats are 5.4 (8.7 in the city) but government tests are always unrealistic. Make no mistake: 6.3 is excellent for a zaftig power sedan. The moral? Test-drive a diesel if you’re looking for a car. Times have changed.

After lunch, I took the wheel. A hellish gale moved in and accompanied us east for the rest of the day. (It was forecast to rain each day of our getaway but we managed to continually cheat the weather, luckily timing rain with drives or sleeps.) At times rain was so heavy we couldn’t clearly see the vehicle ahead. However, riding on 20-inch wheels with Pirelli performance tires that clung like a neurotic girlfriend after you’ve won the lottery, I never felt the least bit unsafe. Plus, the A8 has adaptive cruise control, which keeps a respectable distance away from it, visible or not. It works from 0 to 250 km/h – not that I tested either extreme. An extra, it came as part of the $2,500 Driver Assistant Package, with lane assist and pre-sense plus.

2014 Audi A8 TDI Road Trip2014 Audi A8 TDI Road Trip
2014 Audi A8 TDI Road Trip. Click image to enlarge

No longer driving, my wife luxuriated in the massage and became the DJ, parking us on Sirius’s Classic Vinyl which chugged out trippy early ‘70s FM rock: Bowie, Badfinger, Seger and enough Stones to weigh us down so much that, by the end of the day, we’d increased fuel consumption to 6.6 L/100 km over 620 km.

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