The new Audi A8 L: luxury in grand style
Audi A8 L
Audi A8 L W12 quattro
Audi A8 L W12 quattro
22nd April, 2010
- 130 millimetres (0.43 ft) longer than the standard-wheelbase version
- The W12 6.3 FSI unit generates 368 kW
- Opulent spaciousness, reclining seat in rear and panoramic glass roof
The new A8 is a concentrated high-tech package that confirms the Audi claim to technical leadership –
“Vorsprung durch Technik”. And now the brand is introducing the top version of its flagship model. The
A8 L W12 quattro, with a long wheelbase and a twelve-cylinder engine, sets new standards of luxury,
dynamism and efficiency in the top automobile manufacturing league. The Audi A8 L is being launched
with a twelve-cylinder engine, but by the end of the year will be available with all the engines
currently offered for the A8.
What’s fascinating about the Audi A8 L is its supremely powerful presence; its design is clearly
derived from the brand’s 'genes' and yet has undergone further refinement. The long wheelbase does not
disturb its taut outlines, which remain as 'athletic' as they are elegant.
With an overall length of 5,267 millimetres (17.28 ft), the new Audi A8 L is 130 mm (0.43 ft) longer
than the regular version. The wheelbase has grown by the same amount, to 3,122 mm (10.24 ft). The width
remains unchanged at 1,949 mm (6.39 ft); the height has increased by 2 mm (0.08 in) to 1,462 mm (4.8 ft).
Audi’s new top model is both longer and wider than its main long-wheelbase competitors.
The A8 L has a body built from aluminium using the Audi Space Frame (ASF) principle and therefore
weighing about 40 per cent less than a comparable steel body. The ASF body structure is built up from
cast elements, extruded sections and sheet aluminium, with integral B-posts made from form-hardened
ultra-high strength steel. This body’s tremendous rigidity is the key to the car’s precise handling,
low interior noise levels and high passive safety for the occupants in the event of an accident.
Among the high-end technologies featured on the A8 model line are the optional LED headlight units
(standard on the A8 L W12 quattro) with all lighting functions performed by LEDs. With this bright,
high-efficiency light, Audi opens a new chapter in the history of automobile lighting technology.
Subtle visual details distinguish the A8 L W12 quattro from the other cars in this model line. The
single-frame radiator grille with integral grid structure has a high-gloss black paint finish and
special chromed horizontal bars. There are also chromed inserts of new design in the air inlets, and
chromed applications on the exterior mirrors. W12 badges are displayed on the single-frame grille and
at the rear of the car. The exhaust system has two trapezoidal-pattern tailpipe trims neatly integrated
into the rear bumper.
Abundant space: Rear-seat area
The full extra length of this sedan benefits rear-seat passengers. The back doors are longer, for
even more convenient entry/egress, and the space available inside can only be described as opulent. Rear
passenger comfort can be enhanced even more if two separate power-adjustable seats are ordered. These
can be heated, ventilated and adjusted in a variety of ways: forward and back, seat cushion depth and
seat back angle with top section adjustable separately. There is also a fully adjustable lumbar support.
The front passenger’s seat can also be moved from the rear if extra space is needed.
Between the individual rear seats that are standard equipment in the Audi A8 L W12 quattro a
full-length console can be ordered as an optional extra; it extends back from the centre tunnel to the
rear shelf, and can be specified with integral items such as a folding table or a refrigerator. Separate
controls for the rear air conditioning are also standard. The luxury four-zone automatic air conditioning
is controlled by no fewer than 25 adjusting motors.
Another high-end feature of the long-wheelbase Audi A8 is the reclining seat behind the front
passenger’s seat. The angle of the seat cushion can also be adjusted. The occupant can be massaged by ten
air-filled compartments; four programmes can be selected at a remote control. The feet rest on a
power-adjustable support at the base of the front passenger seat back. Heating, ventilation and the
luxury head restraint are integral features of the reclining seat. A folding table, additional wood and
leather trim, a refrigerator and a Rear Seat Entertainment system with two 10.2-inch screens are among
the features that promote relaxed travel or alternatively concentrated work in this mobile lounge.
Fine materials: Interior design
The quality of workmanship in the Audi A8 L is simply first-class – from the restrained ambient
lighting through the accurately fitted switches with their precise click action. Fascinating aspects of
the car’s interior are the slim, clear outlines and the stylish materials with their modern look.
Audi design selection brass beige carefully combines well-matched colours with individual materials and
comfort-oriented equipment items. The roof-mounted grab handles and rear console have additional fine wood
Valonea leather is tanned exclusively with plant extracts and is especially soft and able to “breathe”
actively. Audi also supplies a loose cushion for rear-seat passengers’ use. Like the head restraints and
the selector lever for the eight-speed tiptronic automatic transmission, it is trimmed with buckskin that
is exceptionally soft and supple but also hard-wearing.
Another optional extra, the panoramic glass roof, has two glass panels that allow plenty of light to
reach the car’s interior. Both sections can be tilted up and the front one also opened extra-wide. Sun
blinds are provided for both panels to keep out direct sunlight.
The Audi A8 L W12 quattro: Splendour and efficiency
Twelve cylinders are the ultimate engine configuration, a tradition that still applies in the large
luxury car class. The first-generation A8 was available with an engine of this type from 2001 on, and a
developed version could be obtained from 2004 on in the following model. Audi’s engineers have now
thoroughly revised the W12. Its displacement has been increased, and petrol direct injection boosts its
output and its efficiency.
The 6.3 FSI engine has an output of 368 kW (500 hp) and delivers its peak torque of 625 Nm (460.98
lb-ft) at engine speeds at 3,250 rpm. It gives the long-wheelbase Audi A8 the kind of performance
normally expected of a sports car: it sprints from 0 to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in only 4.9 seconds and
effortlessly reaches its governed top speed of 250 km/h (155.34 mph).
A fascinating flow of power is available in every situation, but the fuel consumption too sets new
standards: the EU cycle test result is 12.0 litres per 100 kilometres, a figure well below that of
competitors’ cars with V12 engines. The previous 6.0 litre engine, which had a power output of 331 kW
(450 hp), recorded a fuel consumption of 13.6 l/100 km – the difference of 1.6 l/100 km is equivalent
to a 12 per cent improvement.
The engine is known as the W12 because of its unusual lay-out: it has four rows of three cylinders
with a 15-degree included angle between the two offset rows of cylinders in each broad cylinder block.
The V angle between the two blocks is 72 degrees. This lay-out makes the W12 engine exceptionally
compact: only just over 50 centimetres (19.69 in) long and therefore distinctly shorter than a V8.
Height and width are both in the region of 70 centimetres (27.56 in).
The W12, in its latest form with a displacement of 6,299 cc, is an under square design. Its bore
and stroke are 86.0 and 90.4 millimetres (3.39 x 3.56 in) respectively. Compared with the previous
version the engineers have enlarged the cylinder bore. The forged crankshaft has a 12-degree angle of
crankpin offset, so that the mixture in the 12 cylinders is ignited at the ideal interval of 60 degrees.
The engine therefore runs exceptionally smoothly, and the car’s occupants are unlikely to sense any of
this supreme power at work unless it is at high engine speeds and severe loads.
The W12 engine weighs only 247 kilogrammes (545 lb), an impressive value to which the crankcase
makes a major contribution. This is a light weight, high-strength aluminium-silicon alloy casting with
a grey cast iron lower cross-member into which the bearing pedestals are embedded. The pistons are
forged from a high-strength light alloy and have angled crowns because of their V position in the
Each of the W12 engine’s aluminium cylinder heads contains two camshafts; these can be repositioned
hydraulically by an amount equivalent to 52 degrees of crankshaft rotation. Altogether, the four
camshafts operate 48 valves by way of low-friction roller cam followers, and are themselves driven by
chains from an intermediate shaft.
For use in the long-wheelbase A8, Audi’s engineers have converted the W12 engine to FSI petrol
direct injection. This involved considerable modifications to the cylinder heads. Fuel is injected
into the combustion chambers at a pressure of up to 130 bar. A high 11.8:1 compression ratio boosts
power output and efficiency. The inlet ports are specially shaped to impart swirl to the incoming
airflow and make combustion more efficient.
The W12 engine’s low fuel consumption compared with its competitors is to a large extent due to
Audi’s modular efficiency platform. These are used in the entire A8 model line. The crankshaft and
timing chains have been intensively optimised to reduce friction, and a recuperation system recovers
energy that would otherwise be wasted when the car is braked. The innovative thermal management
system shuts down the coolant circuit for a time after the cold engine has been started. This warms
up the engine oil more rapidly and shortens the operating period in which friction is still high.
Safe and sporty: Transmission
The transmission makes a major contribution to ensuring the high efficiency of the Audi A8 L. The
eight-speed tiptronic shifts smoothly and quickly, with the individual gears closely spaced but with
a generous overall spread from low to high. Gear shifts are performed electronically (“shift by wire”)
from an elegant yacht-style selector lever or at steering wheel paddles.
The centre differential, the main component in the quattro permanent all-wheel drive train, divides
the torque flow from the engine in a sporty manner, with 60 per cent to the rear axle and 40 per cent
to the front in regular driving conditions. But if the situation changes, up to 60 per cent of the
torque can be sent to the front, or 80 per cent to the rear. An optional sport differential splits the
torque input actively between the left and right rear wheels.
Maximum precision: Chassis
Thanks to its advanced chassis design, the long-wheelbase Audi A8 brings together the silky,
refined smoothness of a true luxury car and the handling of a sport sedan. The wheel control arms are
made of aluminium. The front suspension uses five locating arms at each wheel; the controlled-track
wishbone rear suspension ensures a supremely comfortable ride. The servotronic power steering system
has a direct operating ratio and operates at high efficiency.
The adaptive air suspension with controlled damping is standard equipment and is integrated into
the Audi drive select dynamics system. With this system the driver can choose between four different
operating settings of the engine, the eight-speed tiptronic transmission, the servotronic power
steering, the optional sport differential and the Audi pre sense basic safety system. An additional
module is the dynamic steering system, which varies its gear ratio steplessly according to road speed.
The Audi A8 L W12 quattro runs on 19-inch alloy wheels with a 15-spoke design reserved for this model,
and size 255/45 tyres. As an optional extra 20-inch wheels can be chosen, and even 21-inch wheels can be
obtained from quattro GmbH.
The A8 L W12 quattro, the new top model, naturally has a high-performance brake system, with ventilated
discs at all four wheels. The front discs are 400 mm (15.75 in) in diameter, with 356 mm (14.02 in) discs
at the rear. To dissipate heat and reduce weight, stainless steel pins connect the steel friction rings
with the aluminium disc centres. The callipers have a matt black paint finish.
Dynamic intelligence: Communication and assistance systems
This large sedan features an exemplary control concept. Although there are so many functions available,
they can be selected in an easily understood, ergonomically correct way. Two large monitor screens, one on
the instrument panel and one on the centre console, acts as control centres and display their information
as high-resolution 3D graphics.
The A8 has a pioneering innovation on board: the optional MMI navigation plus, which operates with the
aid of a high-capacity hard disc, has a touch-sensitive control panel known as MMI touch. The driver
inputs his or her navigation destination or a telephone number simply by writing the letters or numerals
on the pad with a finger. Acoustic feedback makes this possible without taking one’s eyes of the road.
The high-end navigation system cooperates with the assistance and safety systems in an innovative way.
It registers the topography of the road in advance and makes this data available to the control units for
the automatic transmission, headlights and adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function. Thanks to
their advanced intelligence, these systems can identify complex scenarios and offer the driver support in
The adaptive cruise control system operates at any speed up to 250 km/h (155.34 mph) and responds even
more flexibly and smoothly than before.
The Audi side assist system, which helps the driver to change lanes, and Audi lane assist which detects
any departure from the chosen lane, also have new and additional performance features.
The night view assistant uses a thermal imaging camera to identify persons on the road ahead of the car.
If it considers the situation to be potentially dangerous, the image of the person on the road is shown in
red and a warning signal is heard. The Audi pre-sense safety system is also closely linked to the
assistance systems. It is available in several stages: the full version brakes the car automatically in
order to minimise the consequences of a nose-to-tail collision.
In the multimedia area, Audi can also supply many attractive modules. These include a Bang & Olufsen
Advanced Sound System with an output rating of more than 1,400 Watts and 19 speakers, and the Rear Seat
Entertainment system. This has an MMI control panel on the console between the rear seats and provides
access to all the infotainment functions on board this large luxury sedan.
The new Online services in cooperation with Google use the car phone to capture news and current
information on the weather or points of interest (POI) from the Internet. Later this year an UMTS module
will be available: this fast data link can supply images and information from Google Earth to the monitor
screen and combine them with the navigation route. The driver can use all these services with his or her