While SUVs are taking up an ever increasing share of luxury carmakers’ portfolios; for many, the traditional large European luxury sedan provides a driving experience that simply can’t be matched by a high-riding, big-wheeled, high-performing hatchback. Count us among those holdouts, and consider the Audi A8L our exhibit A.
The traditional European flagship sedan has lost a bit of its luster recently, with SUVs now seemingly the chrome-clad standard bearers for all luxury brands. This 2019 Audi A8L probably won’t change that, but it is a great reminder of how fantastic a large luxury 4-door can be.
Seemingly driving that point home, it’s this long wheelbase L version that is the only A8 coming to the U.S. for now, and all will be equipped with rear-biased Quattro all-wheel-drive.
Most exterior measurements are up over last year, but just slightly. Inspect closely, and you will find slightly more defined wheel arches, sharper lines, and of course all-new lighting.
It was the last generation A8 that really started our love affair with Audi interiors. They did sneak another touch screen in with this new MMI system, making for a few more touch surfaces than we generally appreciate. But the tablet-like interface is fairly intuitive; and it’s hard to complain about anything, in what is such a clean and luxurious space.
As with most luxury rides, you can stick with the high level of standard equipment like Audi’s virtual cockpit, Bang & Olufsen 3D premium audio, and a panoramic sunroof. Or, of course go further with luxuries like massaging seats, premium leather, and even a fragrance ionizer.
As you might expect, back seat passengers, whether in standard 3-across configuration or 2-seat Executive style, get special treatment. Multi-position, heated and ventilated, massaging seats are available for them as well, as part of the Rear Seat Comfort Package.
Seat comfort for the driver is sublime, and ride quality is splendid; but keep things in comfort mode and there is a lot of body roll. We’re not complaining, there’s certainly a place for some big old-school relaxed luxury feel; and if it bothers you, punch up dynamic mode and things tighten up nicely. Regardless of mode, nothing ever seems to upset this chassis.
Even with the posh softness here, the A8L is well composed and feels smaller than it is; turn-ins are quick, and grip level is high, with only a slight bit of understeer when you approach the car’s limits.
Plenty of grip for making a quick getaway as well. Without much effort at all, this A8L sprints to 60 in 5.1-seconds.
It’s all business class comfort and efficiency from there. The engine revs freely; and shifts from the 8-speed automatic are hard and fast, though the driver stays isolated from most of the experience. This 4,750-lb. luxury liner completes the ¼ in 13.7-seconds at 100 miles-per-hour.
Making it all happen is a 3.0-liter V6, only now it gets added boost from a turbo instead of a supercharger as before. Horsepower is up 2, to 335; while torque climbs more significantly, up from 325 to 369 lb-ft.
The Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 19-City, 27-Highway, and 22-Combined; which we just about matched, with an average of 22.3 miles-per-gallon on Premium.
After all of the high praise, you might expect a base price higher than $84,795; we sure did.
For the most part, large luxury sedans like this 2019 Audi A8L have been immune to the downturn in sedan sales. That’s probably because, like most luxury items, the people that own them, know exactly what they have when they have one; and nothing else will do, except for perhaps a new one.
Engine: 3.0 liter
Torque: 369 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 5.1 seconds
1/4 mile: 13.7 seconds @ 100 mph
EPA: 19 mpg city / 27 mpg highway