You have probably seen ' Transporter' where Frank Martin aka Jason Statham roams around in an Audi A8L (in the second and third instalment) indulging in some fancy driving and showing how agile a limo can be. So what would Frank Martin think of the new facelift A8L? Well we think it would suit him nicely.
The A8 has always had its loyal fan-following in this bitterly fought battle in the luxury saloon segment. Trying to pick fault in these cars is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Now Audi has upped the game even further by dipping the A8L in an unending stream of technology.
Today we have with us the A8L diesel having the 3.0 TDI- now in these times I think Frank would be better off in this rather than the W12 considering the range he would be getting! But first let us talk about the headline grabbing feature in the new A8. Yes, the optional Matrix LED technology is indeed some sci-fi stuff.
The headlights have 25 individual elements in high-beam which can be activated and deactivated or dimmed individually according to the situation. Thus thanks to a camera it can put off LEDs which the car coming from the other way will face but also illuminate the remaining part of the road. We have tried it and it works brilliantly. Again something Frank Martin would love!
However there is more to the A8L than just that as it has got some subtle styling tweaks. The hood, the single-frame grille and the front bumper are more sculpted now while the LED lights at the rear have now become more flatter and have a continuous chrome strip. Coupled with those new headlights the new A8L looks stunning and turned heads wherever we went.
Inside you have a lovely interior- something you expect in the flagship Audi saloon. It is the best in luxury but with a classy restrained 'Audi' touch i.e. minus the glitz and glamour. We like that and so will Frank. Of course with these cars there are countless options with 111 exterior colors, 23 leather colors, 27 customisable parts and 12 wooden inlays to choose from.
In these cars it is the rear seat that matters as this is where the owner would be for most of the time and here is a lovely place to be. Our test car had the Rear Seat Executive package and it is designed so as to not make you miss your private jet. They adjust in a million ways, have massage function, electrically adjustable footrest, folding tables, fridge and rear screens. Not a bad way to get to the office everyday!
However for Frank and us it is the drivers seat that is the place to be no matter how tempting it is to sit at the rear. As mentioned earlier we had the 3.0 diesel with 254 bhp while the other engine options include a 4.0 TFSI and a 4.2 TDI. The 3.0 TDI would be the best-seller and that is why we are driving it plus it has got more torque now (30Nm increase) and is 20% more fuel-efficient. The gearbox is an eight-speed tiptronic while it also has Quattro and Audi drive select system as standard.
Refinement is superb and you really cannot hear anything inside. Just as you would expect the A8L goes about its business quietly and you are not even aware of what speeds you are doing unless you look at the speedo. Healthy torque plus the respsonsive gearbox means it is a smooth driving experience. We however did not like the oddly shaped gearlever which takes some getting used to.
Another important facet of the A8 is its superb ride especially in 'Comfort' mode where our roads are dealt well by the A8 suspension. Though you have to be careful about the relatively low ground clearance and huge overhangs. The big surprise is in the way the A8L shrinks around you when navigating through traffic and all you need is a couple of minutes behind the wheel to get used to its size and then it feels like an A4. Honest.
Surprise number 2 comes in form of its handling as you simply do not expect a limo to be this agile. While high-speed stability is terrific the way it can carry high speeds into corners is shocking and that is due to the fact that the A8 is lighter than many of its rivals and also the Quattro system.
In 'Dynamic' mode body control is superb and the direct steering only helps in making a limo that tackles corners better than its rivals. No wonder Frank swapped his 7-Series for an A8L.
Priced at Rs 1.13 crore ex-showroom the new A8L is not cheap and by the time you have ticked some of the 'must-have' options it will be figure which will swell further. But with the facelift the A8L is now better than ever and represents the very best of Audi. We suspect its styling and the technology will lure customers in and we are in no doubt that Frank would order one as well. In black, of course.
Photography- R. Bhendwal