It has been raining Audi models in India and preferably so when it comes to the bigger models and ones which wouldn’t generate volumes. Only yesterday, we had checked out the Audi A7 Sportback and now today, we have got the Audi A8L 3.0 TDI in India for a review. Well, if its just the engine swap or something else, we would come to know now. Audi India, if you notice, have been quite bullish in their attitude towards the Indian car buying populace and also over their models which are being sold in India. Only recently did they come up with this new found attitude. The earlier laidback attitude from Audi India regarding their products has changed and what an offensive. Almost 5 models or engine upgradations in the past 6 months. That’s nothing short of amazing and that too for a manufacturer who has been claiming that they aren’t keen on the numbers game. Well, the products that they have introduced are no volumes garner but yes, it gives the customer more options to choose from.
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Except for the 3.0 TDI Quattro badging at the rear, nothing has changed. Infact the A8L looks very good in an all white ensemble with that black roof massive sun roof at the top. The wide and sinewy angle eyes of an head lamp has got head lamp washers which can dish out hot water in cold conditions and the usual lukewarm water in normal conditions. The 235/55- R18 configuration of tyres feel chunky for this car however we felt that the alloy wheels design could be a bit more caring types at this price and not the normal ones which can be found on even the Hyundai Sonata. The wing mirrors have got the turn indicators embedded in them. As for the rear section, it is typical with that Audi traditional tail lamps. As for the tail pipes, for namesake there are twin pipes however they don’t eschew sportiness from any angle. The overall width and length of the car however is noteworthy.
The interiors of the new Audi A8L 3.0 TDI in India are very much similar to the one found in its petrol variant. However unlike the A7 which we tested yesterday, there was a tad too many buttons coming up on the central console. The luxury yacht type wooden gear lever also looks and feels good. The Audi’s meter dials have a nice shape to them and are very legible ones. There is a multi information display coming up in the middle which shows a wide variety of information. The seats are very comfortable however in the process of giving this vehicle the most comfort than the others in its class, Audi have gone overboard with the front seats. The extended under thigh support means that shorter passengers would find it to be a tad uncomfortable on the same seats where taller passengers would be having a whale of a time. The seats are adjustable and also have memory functions to them. However too many features to play with means that lot many things which are not actually required or used by the driver creep in. The MMI interface is the most recent one and is quite a delight to use. Just like its family blood lined Volkswagen Passat, the new Audi A8L gets a small analog clock in the middle of the wooden trimmed dashboard. The chilled glove box is huge, almost to the tune of the Tata Nano’s boot space. Individual cocooning inside the cabins means that neither the driver nor the co-passenger feels stressed out. Even though this A8L comes in as a CBU, there is nothing to suggest that this car was earlier a left hand drive and stuff. Each and every material inside the dashboard feels soft to touch. However that built to last feel is lost as everything inside feels sort of fragile. No, we aren’t doubting the build quality here however the all aluminium construction may just be a bit underwhelmed by the Indian road conditions.
Coming to the all important rear seats, they are very good and a perfect entry point means that you don’t have to swoop down or climb up the cabin. There is no dearth of space in any parameter, be it the head room, leg room or even the shoulder room. Choose the optional rear seat packaging and the rear seats ensure that you are traveling in business class comfort for your travels or board room meetings. Moreover the standard DVD screens at the back of the head rests ensure that the chauffer driven (which would be 99 percent times) stay relaxed and also catch up on the latest movies and stuff. Specified MMI as also the climate control and music controls can be enjoyed by the rear seat passengers. Moreover, if it has been a tiring day at work, the business manager or CEO of the company can actually get himself massaged by the massaging seats. Even for a luxury car, there are many hidden cubby holes around the cabin of this car. All this ensures that the rear seat passengers are amply taken care of. Well, you can also literally make out in the A8L. The interior lighting can also be changed by as many as 8 different ways to suit one’s moods. The presence of more than a thousand small motors which control everything from the way the sun blinds work to how the steering wheel behaves is what sets apart the A8L from the others in its class. The rear seats don’t split and hence the 510 liters of boot space feels really small for such a big car.
Handling and ride quality
The Audi A8L 3.0 TDI in India is one heavy car. It weighs in nearly at 2 tonnes however its Quattro system ensures that the car doesn’t feel so while on the road. The light steering would ensure that the chauffer wouldn’t have to sweat much whilst going over the usual chores of driving in the traffic. There are front and rear parking sensors with the display coming up on the MMI screen. So its pretty easy to navigate this car through traffic with the knowledge that the outside rear view mirrors cost around Rs 80k to be replaced. There are three modes for the suspension settings and those are the Comfort, Dynamic and Sports. Needless to say, most of the owners would be selecting this suspension setting. However as discussed earlier, the all aluminiumed body of this car means that the bumps are audible to the passengers. Moreover in Comfort mode, the car’s suspension becomes very soft and this causes the long wheelbase of the car to behave like a rocky boat, sometimes. That planted or settled feeling misses the bulls eye. For the highways, the best mode is the “Dynamic” one. In this mode, the car lets in a bit more of the aberrations however it feels very stable and not floaty like the Comfort mode. When your chauffer is in the mood for some corner carving, then the Sports mode comes into picture. In this mode, the car does let you know about all what it is enduring for you on the road. However in this mode, the steering tightens and you immediately get the feeling that this car can track a corner or two here and there. However its no BMW 7 series and hence the entire process of corner carving is sacrificed for the ride quality (which is not stellar by any measure). Moreover, even though it’s a diesel engine under the hood, the engine noise doesn’t permeate inside the cabin and this makes for a pleasurable experience and the drive can be enjoyed. However upping the speeds results in road noise from the tyres and this sort of detracts from the feeling that you are seated in a luxury limo.
Engine, performance and fuel efficiency
The talk of the town is the new 3.0 liter TDI engine under the hood of the Audi A8L. Only yesterday we had spoken about extensively on how this engine makes its debut in various Audi cars in India with different power configurations. This 3 liter V6 diesel in the A8L makes 250 Bhp of power and 550 Nm of torque. It is aligned with an 8 speed auto transmission. At idle, this engine produces some slight gruffness which immediately lets a trained ear know which fuel is powering this car and stuff. However just prod the throttle a bit and the gruffness irons out very well. For us, inspite of repeated runs from 0-100 kmph, the car managed to maintain a constant lap time of 6.2 seconds. As for the 200 kmph mark, this car achieved it flat out in just 29 seconds. While at this speed, the engine didn’t sound stressed at all and nor was it gasping for breath. Infact, it looked like it could stay at these speeds all day long. The transmission, though not as smooth as the one in the BMW is good enough for city and highway jaunts, if with a bit of unhurried action suiting it more. The best part is that apart from the initial gruffness right upto its redline, the diesel motor is a quiet performer. There doesn’t seem to be any thing going wrong for it.
Just like its petrol engined sibling, the diesel A8 also manages to have good braking distances. This coupled with the ABS, EBD, Brake plus and stuff make sure that there is no problem in stopping the A8 in quick stop situations. Moreover, there is also the safety net of 8 air bags, collapsible steering column, reversing camera, 3 point seat belts with pre tensioners and supplementary head restraints. The A8L also has brake regenerative energy going for it as far as technology goes. In the fuel efficiency stakes, the Audi A8L 3.0 TDI in India returns 8.1 kmpl in the city and 13.6 kmpl on the highway. This ensures that it is equally luxurious and cheap to run.
Just like its petrol engined sibling, the diesel powered Audi A8L is the benchmark as far as luxurious interiors go. We haven’t seen such luxurious interiors as the ones this side of the Bentley Mulsanne. The various ways in which the interior lighting can be changed depending on the mood and the sci-fi stuff is more interesting to the geeks as also novices. The way the door tugs itself in when even lightly closed, is sort of eerie and also intriguing. With the new Audi A8L diesel, there is no problem of luxury and also lower running costs mixing together and saying that we can co-exist. However the down sides are the not so impressive handling and also not the luxury limousine like ride quality that even the BMW 7 series promises to provide in shades. It has performance which is almost same in nature like that of its petrol sedan. The Audi A8L 3.0 TDI price in India is Rs 78 lakhs and this is for the base one without any add-ons. Piling on the options would place this Audi’s price closer to the Rs 1 crore mark, ex-show room, Mumbai.