At The Wheel
2006 AUDI 8L
It's Hard To Find A Better Machine
By Les Jackson CruiseControlRadio.Com
Like most automotive reviewers I tend to be hard to impress. Having said that, the Audi A8 L has managed to dazzle me as much as it has most of my peers, to the extent that I didn’t want to give it up after only one week of driving. This car, in my opinion, represents just about everything that is good about automotive engineering and very little that is either bad, overdone or unnecessary. In the A8 L, Audi builds what is [arguably] the best automobile in the world regardless of price.
Not only is the car that good, it’s actually safer than any other passenger car of the same size because it’s built almost entirely out of aluminum. As an engineer I’m very familiar with the metallurgical advantages of aluminum and, without going into yield-rate-sensitivity equations and other crash-pulse dynamics, take my word for it that you would fare much better in a crash in an A8 than you would in an S-Series Mercedes or Lexus or Rolls Royce or whatever…Actually, the car drives so capably that you’d probably avoid the crash in the first place.
Aluminum construction also makes the car’s body stiffer, dampens noise and yields a wonderful sense of stability and control to the driver. It was so quiet at highway speeds that the rear seat passengers could speak barely above a whisper, yet be heard clearly in front. Those rear passengers, by the way, loved the enormous amount of leg room the car provides (the “L” refers to the longer wheelbase version), not to mention the full-length center console with cup holders, individual climate control, lumbar control, vanity mirrors, electric window screens and folding center head restraint.
Up front, we thoroughly enjoyed the 16-way power seats with their 4-way lumbar controls and the extremely high level of quality in all the interior appointments. It was so comfortable in the car that it was easy to forget its formidable performance characteristics.
The A8 L is provided with plenty of power in its 4.2 liter, 5-valves per cylinder engine. Its 330 horsepower, coupled to its 6-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, will launch the car form 0 to 60 mph in just 6.3 seconds, throwing you gently back into the seat until it hits an electronically-limited 130 mph. The 4,400-pound car does all that while yielding 24 mpg on premium gas. Big brakes, big wheels and big tires bring the car down in the shortest of distances without fuss or bother.
A sophisticated suspension system keeps everything under control, featuring air spring struts at all four wheels with continuous damping, automatic load leveling and driver-controlled firmness settings. The A8 is all-wheel-drive, of course, and is fitted with electronic stability control to prevent loss of control in virtually any circumstance. The car is a pleasure to drive in any weather, any conditions, although to be honest I don’t care for the too-early shift from first to second gear that is programmed into the Tiptronic.
Mention should be made of the Multi Media Interface (MMI) retractable color display that houses the navigation system’s screen along with lots of menu items and displays for the sound and HVAC systems plus a host of other information features. It’s not the Machiavellian, counterintuitive monster that is BMW’s hideously-complicated I-Drive, but instead an easy-to-use system that tells you what you want to know in a straightforward manner. While developing the MMI Audi apparently used real people in its focus groups rather than techno-nerd tinkerers.
It’s a shame the new Audi A8 L costs $75,000, because nearly everyone should own one. Driving it makes you not want to settle for anything less.
Links : www.audi.com Manufacturers site
www.audiusa.com Manfacturers US site
www.audiworld.com Audi Enthusiast site
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