Review and Photos by Justin Pritchard

Noise? Smoke? Soot? Forget it! The 3.0L TDI V6 under the Audi A8 L’s hood emits almost none of the above. Start it up: barely a peep. Stand at the rear: all’s quiet at the tailpipes. Keep up with flowing traffic? Noiseless. Engage a tidal-wave of luxury-thrust to fly by an 18-wheeler on the highway? The subtle roar from the engine sounds like its coming from somewhere off in the distance as you surge gracefully by.

If memory serves me, the A8 L’s TDI engine is even quieter, more of the time, than the now-retired 4.2L V8 which powered the last A8 I drove a few years back. And it hauls along almost just as well. All of that in a machine that consumes pavement like a V8, and consumes fuel like a four-cylinder. Literally.

Sounds pretty win-win, yes? This is diesel power today: surprisingly good performance, incredible refinement, and even more incredible mileage. All said, the concept of diesel-powered cars not being everywhere flies so far over my head that it needs a passport.

The contractor who recently worked on my new bathroom shone some light onto the reason for the above. There was a Dodge Ram EcoDiesel in my driveway that week, and he was measuring the box to see if he could fit drywall and plywood and contractor things inside. But contractor guy said he’d never buy a diesel.

“We had one years ago. A Rabbit. My wife hated it. It stank and it was smoky and didn’t like starting in the cold. I couldn’t do a diesel” he explained.

“How long ago was that”? I asked.

“Oh gosh, we got rid of it in probably 99. But it was an 87, or 88, I think”.

Things have changed, contractor guy.

Case in point? The A8 L is one of the most luxurious cars on the planet, and opting for its diesel engine takes nothing away from the experience. In fact, the TDI engine is the perfect powerplant to complement the A8 L’s underlying character.

Perfect, because the A8 L turns in such a relaxed driving experience with its massaging seats and air suspension and dual-pane, acoustically-laminated glass and crystal-freaking-clear Bang and Olufsen stereo system that you’ll be at ease. Peaceful. Not in a rush. Laid back. That means you’ll apply the throttle gently, let the monster low-end torque glide you up to speed without breaking 1,300 revs in each of the eight gears, wonder how a transmission can shift so smoothly and quickly, and get silly-good fuel mileage in the process.

On winter rubber, using the Quattro system often and vigorously, I did 8.8 L/100 km overall. That’s not bad for a big, fast, high-tech luxury spa on wheels. Highway cruising in no particular rush saw consumption drop to just 7 L/100 km. I’ve literally put more fuel through a four-cylinder Honda Accord – and the A8 L is twice the size, has numerous times as much torque, and drives all fours.

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