Friends who know and fawn over cars love the 2008 Audi A8, W12 quattro. Friends who own cars but view them simply as necessary transportation love the car. Even automobile cynics, for whom cars are among society’s biggest concerns, love it.
And there are many reasons for the adulation. As a luxury car, the Audi A8 W12 has a 6.0-liter, 12-cylinder, 450-horsepower engine that operates with a six-speed automatic transmission and Audi’s quattro permanent all-wheel drive system.
It features 20-inch alloy wheels and adaptive cruise control and a host of electronic features and high-tech equipment — 16-way power front seats to a 6-disc CD changer and DVD (it’s in the glove box) and an extraordinary Bang & Olufasen sound system with 12 speakers to a mid, rear-seat personal refrigerator. There’s also a rear seat DVD entertainment system (two screens) and a solar sunroof.
The interior of the Audi A8 is beautifully designed, burled wood paneling to top-of-the line leather seating and double-stitch time. The front and rear-seat spaciousness approximated the comfort of a limousine. It’s like a small apartment adorned in leather and wood paneling.
But with all of the luxury and pampering comes a huge reality check.
The base price of the vehicle is $120,100. Of course, there are plenty of extra charges: $6,300 for the Bang & Olufasen sound system (and what a sound system it is!); $3,200 for the 20-inch alloy wheels and summer performance tires; $2,500 for the Palace Blue exterior paint; $2,100 for the adaptive cruise control; $1,500 for the rear-seat refrigerator; $790 for the solar sunroof; $200 for the heated steering wheel.
And the final jolt — the $1,700 charge for the gas-guzzler tax. It’s the federal excise tax applied to the domestic sale of new vehicles that don’t meet certain fuel economy standards. The Audi A8 has miles per gallon estimates of 13 in city driving and 19 on the highway.
Add it all up, and not forgetting the $775 destination charge and a few other odds and ends, the Audi A8 I test drove for a week cost $140,565. Audi estimates at $3 per gallon (wouldn’t that be nice?) that the A8’s yearly fuel cost for 15,000 miles is $3,000. That’s a larger number, of course, when accurate gas mileage costs are part of the equation.
These are all huge numbers by most car buyers’ budgets. But driving the Audi A8 greatly eases the pain, if only as a fantasy drive.
There are two oddities. The cruise control lever is tucked away on the lower left-hand side of the steering wheel. It’s hard to see and thus not easy as it could be to operate. Why not place it on the face of the steering or in a more convenient location? Also, the rear headrests are well made and comfortable, but they obscure the rear window vision.
Nevertheless, the Audi A8 W12 powers along the road, turns elegantly and accelerates as if it’s built to do exactly what it wants to do, which it does.
Safety Features — 4-year/50,000 new vehicle limited warranty 12-year limited warranty against corrosion; 12-month or 5,000-mile free first scheduled maintenance; 4-year/50,000-mile roadside assistance warranty.
Mileage Estimates — 13 mpg (city), 19 mpg (highway)
Base Price — $120,100.
Price As Driven — $140,565.