Audi A8 pushes all the right buttons, says Edward Stephens.
There’s nothing more satisfying than driving a quality saloon with a sweet-sounding V8 under the bonnet.
However, mention eight cylinders to most people and the thought of what they perceive to be a gas guzzler will put them off.
But with Audi‘s big V8 diesels you can get power and affordable performance.
The 4.2-litre V8 Audi A8 that I borrowed recorded an average of 34 miles per gallon over some 400 miles, which would be respectable for a much smaller car let alone a large one like the A8 with 350bhp.
This is a real powerhouse which, at 70 miles per hour, is barely doing 1,500 revs, ensuring relaxed, effortless motoring and cushioning the occupants from the outside world.
In fact you are so cocooned that you have to keep a wary eye on the speedometer to ensure you don’t inadvertently drift into the flashing blue light zone.
But when you need power in a hurry a quick jab of the right foot sees the big saloon drop a couple of its eight gears and surge forward in a dramatic, yet decidedly composed way, as befits a machine of this status.
And with Audi’s four-wheel-drive quattro system on board and adaptive air suspension with continuously variable damping, the grip is as impressive as the power.
Despite its large dimensions, the aluminium-bodied A8 is an impressively sleek car which, compared to earlier models, looks as if it’s been on a diet. In this case big is still definitely beautiful.
Inside, it’s luxury all the way with leather upholstery, electrically-adjustable front seats which will heat up or cool down to suit the time of year, and a superb sound system.
My test car also came with a couple of impressive optional extra “toys” in the form of a neat, retractable satellite navigation screen, which also doubled up as a television screen with all the freeview channels, and massaging front seats with a choice of several manipulating movements.
When in use the satnav/tv screen sat on top of the lower part of the dashboard but was cleverly designed so it didn’t obscure any section of the windscreen, unlike on some manufacturer’s models.