2012 Audi A8 W12 L Quattro Review

Bentley for half the money, but why don’t I want it in my next feature film?

By Shahzad Sheikh

Audi A8 W12 L

In the cult action-thriller, Ronin, from 1998, when the driving specialist needs something ‘big and fast,’ he gets an Audi S8 – and then fits it with Nitrous Oxide to make it even more powerful. In fact it already came with 4.2-litre V8 (although its 335bhp rating doesn’t sound much by today’s standards) and it was tough, butch and fast. It certainly captured everyone’s imagination – Car Magazine once rated it 9th in its list of Top 40 Coolest Movies Cars.

So it’s got history, has Audi’s flagship supersaloon. The A8/S8 were cars that you admired and respected. I was pondering this as I parked this big A8 W12, with the help of its multiple cameras in a mall park coincidentally right next to second generation (2006-09) Audi S8 also in white and in very well preserved condition it appeared. Something was nagging me.

As I turned back to look at the two cars from a little distance, I realised what was bothering me. There isn’t a vast difference in dimensions, but compared to the squat, purposeful stance of the previous car with its slim glasshouse and wide taught fuselage, the newer car (whilst a perfectly handsome and elegant machine in isolation) looked awkward and ungainly. It just doesn’t sit as meanly as its predecessor, nor looks as kick-ass, quite frankly.

What we have here is a grown up super-luxury saloon that focusses more on the comfort and convenience of the people within than worrying about the perception of those without – after all the occupants paid for it, whereas those outside haven’t. But Audi is forgetting something vital here: ‘Want’. The desire to own something, which indeed derives from that much scoffed-at (and not just by Audi, I hasten to add) perception.

But for now the Audi loyalists will be content to luxuriate in the incredibly spacious and superbly appointed rear cabin, reclining back, fingering the full bank of controls at their fingertips and watching Ronin on the in-flight screens (reliving the glory days?). And in-flight is what it feels like as they shutter themselves off from the world and the car glides along effortlessly at astonishing speeds in utter serenity.

All the time it is piloted by a completely unflustered driver who has his seat set to cool and the wave massage function soothing his already content and completely relaxed muscles, whilst the A8 swooshes past the humdrum hubbub.

The torque-tastic engine up front is the same as you’ll find in a Bentley Continental Flying Spur – a humongous W12 engine that has that same low-toned deep thrum and the distinctive parp on upchanges. There are various modes alluding to ‘Sports’ and there are paddleshifts, but quite frankly in a car like this, you simply leave everything in fully automatic and you cruise. You don’t get into traffic light brawls, you don’t chuck it into corners, and you certainly don’t let Robert De Niro behind the wheel to rampage through the streets of Europe.

This generation of Audi A8 does not appear to want to ever get down and dirty, instead it has loftier ambitions – it feels like it does indeed want to be a Bentley. In many ways it almost is (supreme quality and comfort) and in others it even betters the legendary British marque (superior electronics and equipment). But it’s lacking the vital X-factor.

It may totally win over the logical half of your brain which concludes that though it brandishes a hefty price tag, it’s still only about half the price of a Flying Spur, but the other side of the brain has already won the argument.

I do ‘Want’ a Bentley, but I do not ‘Want’ a new A8, as brilliantly competent as it undoubtedly is. I qualify it with the word ‘new’ because here’s the irksome fly-in-the-ointment that must be keeping Audi product planners up at night: when I returned to the parking, I wished – oh how I wished – that I had the keys to the older car in my pocket. Hmm…

2012 Audi A8 W12 L Quattro
Price: AED533,500k ($145k)
AED 579,100 ($157k) for car as tested with adaptive cruiser control, pre sense plus, blind spot assist, lane assist, front and rear cameras and night vision
Engine: 6.3-litre W12 500bhp @ 6200rpm, 461lb ft @ 4750rpm
Performance: 0-100kph 4.7s, 250kph, 12.4L/100km
Transmission: 8-speed auto, Four-wheel drive
Weight: 2165kg

2 responses to “2012 Audi A8 W12 L Quattro Review”

  1. How much money the car

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