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Audi A8/S8

The aluminum flagship.

Since its debut in 1997, every A8 has been a study in proportions, and the current one is no different. Its interior is similarly elegant and modern. Like its predecessors, the newest A8 sedan features aluminum construction, and as a result, it’s among the lightest offerings in its class. Less flab aids the car’s athleticism and fuel economy. Speaking of the latter, there’s a new, supercharged V-6 powering the base version, and it lowers the cost of entry for the A8 by some $7000. The 3.0T, as it’s known, is available in standard- and long-wheelbase forms. Next up is a new V-8, which, at 4.0 liters, is slightly smaller than before but more than makes up for it with two turbochargers. It, too, is available in both body sizes. More-sporting drivers will want to know about the new S8. It uses the same 4.0-liter turbo V-8 but is tuned up to 520 hp — enough to zip this sport sedan writ large from 0 to 60 mph in fewer than four seconds. Then there’s the W12 and its stonking 6.3-liter twelve-cylinder engine and six-figure price. The W12 is available only with the long wheelbase. All-wheel drive is standard across the lineup. So is a polished eight-speed automatic with a boat-themed shifter that is, unfortunately, cumbersome to use. But that’s about the only cumbersome aspect of Audi’s high-tech flagship.

COMPETITORS

BMW 7-series

Jaguar XJ

Lexus LS

Mercedes-Benz S-class

new for 2013

As with the A6 and the A7, the arrival of an S version of the A8 makes the headlines here. But there is other powertrain news as well, with the addition of a supercharged V-6 that brings down the point of entry for the A8 and the replacement of the 4.2-liter V-8 with a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter unit.

SAFETY EQUIPMENT

Front, front and rear side, and side curtain air bags; traction and stability control; and ABS are standard. Blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, a rearview camera, a corner-view camera, adaptive headlights, and Audi Pre Sense Plus are available.

MPG

CITY 13–17

HWY 21–28

PRO

Relatively light weight

Good fuel economy (V-6)

High-tech, stylish interiors

CON

No diesel or hybrid

Smallish trunk

W12 price

Base Price Range: $73,095–$135,395

SPECIFICATIONS

DRIVE: 4-wheel

TRIM LEVELS: 3.0T A8, 3.0T A8 L, 4.0T A8, 4.0T A8 L, S8, A8 L W12

BODY STYLE: Sedan, 5-passenger

ENGINES: 3.0L supercharged V-6, 333 hp, 325 lb-ft

4.0L twin-turbo V-8, 420/520 hp, 444/481 lb-ft

6.3L W-12, 500 hp, 463 lb-ft

TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic

PASSENGER VOLUME: 115.1–121.9 cu ft

CARGO SPACE: 13.2 cu ft

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