2015 Audi A8
2015 Audi A8. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Paul Williams

Dusseldorf, Germany – Dusseldorf is known as the city of cartwheels. Maybe because the region is so flat and cartwheels work particularly well in such terrain. But the area is also criss-crossed with narrow, twisty roads of the kind that sports car drivers crave. Is the Audi A8 a sports car? Not that you’d notice.

Until you drive one, that is. How does a blast 0–100 km/h in 4.5 seconds sound? Or 4.1 seconds from the even higher performance S8? And this from a full-size all-wheel-drive sedan of generous but sleek proportions, packed with every luxury convenience you can imagine.

Fortunately there’s also an Autobahn in the area where you can motor happily along at 160 km/h with the sensation that you’re going half that speed, and the knowledge that you could almost double it if required (or desired). It’s all legal, of course.

2015 Audi A8
2015 Audi A8. Click image to enlarge

While the dramatic R8 may be Audi’s “halo” car, the full-size A8 sedan is its flagship. Every luxury manufacturer has one; a vehicle that seemingly “does it all,” but in a style that defines the brand. For Audi, that style has to do with cool design and sophisticated technology. And light… as in weight; and more conventionally, illumination. We’ll get to the illumination later.

But concerning the light weight, back in 1994, Audi was the first company to offer an all-aluminum production vehicle in the form of the A8. For 2015, the practice continues. The structure of the 2015 Audi A8, except for the B-pillars, is still made entirely of aluminum. The Audi Space Frame (ASF) weighs 231 kg (529 lb), which is about 40 percent less than a comparable steel frame. A couple of strong people could pick it up.

2015 Audi A8
2015 Audi A8
2015 Audi A8
2015 Audi A8. Click image to enlarge

Aluminum is found throughout the car (sometimes in unexpected places) resulting in a curb weight for the A8 3.0 TFSI of just 1,830 kg (4,034 lb). The light weight means lighter components like brakes and suspension components can be used, and fuel consumption is reduced. Agile handling, now augmented with electromechanical steering, is a characteristic of this model, exceeding expectations for a car of this size.

For 2015, the dimensions of the “refreshed” (that is, not “all-new”) A8 remain the same; the long-wheelbase A8 L adds 13 centimetres in wheelbase and length. The A8’s trunk depth is increased by 10 cm, and its capacity grows to 520 L. From the outside, the hood, single-frame grille and front bumper are subtly altered to become more expressive, according to Audi, as is the headlight design.

At the rear, the LED lights are narrower and joined together by a continuous chrome strip. Two rhomboid tailpipes now emerge from the base of the redesigned bumper, while chrome strips and gloss inserts finish the lower section of the body, door handles and window frames.

Under the hood, the choice of engines for Canada – 3.0L V6 TFSI (gasoline), 3.0L V6 TDI (diesel), 4.0L V8 TFSI and W12 TFSI – remain the same, but power and fuel efficiency is improved. All A8s use an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission.

The 310-hp 3.0L V6 gains 20 hp, consumes an average of 7.8 L/100 km combined city/highway and now accelerates the A8 from 0–100 km/h in 5.7 seconds. The 285-hp 3.0L TDI engine gains eight horsepower to complement its 406 lb-ft of torque and uses only 5.9 L/100 km, combined. It launches from 0–100 km/h in 5.9 seconds.

The twin-turbo 4.0L V8 now makes 435 hp, having gained 15 hp, sprints from 0-100 km/h in the above-mentioned 4.5 seconds, and consumes an average of 9.1 L/100 km, city/highway. This engine with uprated tuning also powers the S8, where it makes 520 hp, propelling the car to 100 km/h from standstill in 4.1 seconds.

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