Thursday, 28 March 2013

A8 4.2L: Svelte, harmonious and elegant

- by GB Bajaj, CEO & Strategist at GB LUXE LIFE for Stylefluid Trendz

The ergonomically-designed drivers 22-way adjustable sports seat is awesome,  even a yoga instructor will be amused. It takes a good 6mins to figure out the controls, buttons etc and another 4 mins for the mind to be said, it’s an A8 4.2L, not a private jet. For the first few minutes, all you do is sit and explore this svelte machine by fiddling, pushing and prodding switches.
Interiors resemble entering your spacious cozy living room, plush interiors, upholstered with luxury trims and materials, Valcona leather, wood veneers inlays and trims etc, from floor-to-ceiling and contemporary lighting treatments. There are a variety of leather colors available and leather options include an Alcantara® headliner and Nappa leather with decorative stitching.

The four-spoke Audi steering wheel comes with multiple controls for audio, trip etc with paddle shifts. With the warm ambient lighting to the perfectly positioned push buttons, the interiors are superbly stylish with the usage of high quality materials. The spacious interior characteristics of the A8 are designed around Quality, ergonomics and functionality.  

The plush interior space is further accentuated by wide rear doors to have effortless exit and entry, the spaciousness is downright like a private jet. The electrically adjustable rear individual seats enhance the A8’s rear seat's plushness. The rear interiors are boasting with features and functions, well suited for work and relaxation. Between the Power- adjustable individual rear seats, is the long trimmed leather console with controls for the massage, aircon and audio/video.

A plush interior is one thing, having massage feature is..hmmmmmm, bring on the Veuve Clicquot. While being massaged, one can set the seats to be heated or cooled, and recline for  relaxed movie watching or some good reading. All the trim levels are standard with leather seats, a power rear sunshade, a cooled glove box, dual climate control, and heated front seats with massager function. With a flick of a button, the panoramic sunroof opens, massaged seats, an electrically adjusted footrest, admire the skies while sipping Veuve. In the centre console, between the rear seats, back position is a spacious cool box for two glasses and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, just the perfect temp to serve, let the sun rays fill the mood with happiness.  Rear seat entertainment with dual 10-inch screen and ventilated rear seats and four-zone climate control, the A8 4.2L makes executive travel productive, relaxing and enjoyable.

Living in harmony yet protected for impacts, the machine is very safe and secure. The immaculate Valcona leather seats and fitting’s of many wooden veneers are sanded and lacquered manually.

AUDI has made strenuous efforts to deliver a homely luxurious and a large inside cabin, which can be provided with a range of bespoke choice of color palettes, including agate, citrine, obsidian, onyx, quartz, topaz and tourmaline.

It also features a power rear sunshade, a cooled glove box, dual climate control, and heated front seats.

The A8 4.2L has been benefitted with the wheelbase being increased by 13cms, versus the standard normal version wheelbase, measures 5.27 meters, more comfort for rear seat passengers and more bodily movement. An extra 42.9 inches of legroom, compared to 38.7 inches in the normal wheelbase variant gives that fun for dancing too with the B&O sound system, listening to Nicky Romero live.

Well, its time to reach Nariman Pt. in 1 hr or so, fantastic, lets test the private jet of its capabilities. Buckled up, the start/stop engine button situated next to the gear lever, with red lights highlighting it, I press start, just feel a slight sense of alertness. Sports mode, let’s go AUDI jet baby. Lets understand the engine specs. The A8L has a 4.2-litre TDI engine, with 354PS of peak power at the rate of 4000rpm and a phenomenal 800Nm of torque at the rate of 1750 and 2750 rpm. Extremely torqyyyy, 0-100km/h in 5.6 seconds and top speed of 250km/hr-  Insurance check!!!. 

A salient feature that stands out for expert drivers, is the Quattro, which is permanent all wheel drive with an 8 speed tip- tronic. Nearly a 2.2 tonner and with these engine specs, it surely is going to fly  like a private jet. Sitting on those bulging 235/55 R18 inch wheels, i get started. Seated in the 22-way adjustable sports seat, reservations are laid firmly to rest. BUCKLE UP, Seat Belts sign is ON. Pilot announces, smooth flight, little turbulence will not be felt, not for the faint hearted. The meanest and widest grin I have ever seen on my Pilot's face. 

Gripping the four-spoke multifunction steering wheel, suited with the finest quality leather, I am The TRANSPORTER.  The air conditioning is silent and very effective in cooling.  The air distribution, temperature setting and blower speed can also be set individually for the left and right side, at both the front and rear too.

The A8 responds with instant acceleration, the torque of 800 at 1750rpm, really kicks in, can feel the thrust, just get swallowed by the seat, and this is not even the R8 – V10.

At 2120 kg, the A8 is rather light for its class, and that’s thanks to its all-aluminium monocoque construction and provided huge benefits in terms of fuel economy and performance,  

A8 flies from a 0-70 mph so effortlessly and calmly, minimum engine sound and exhaust noise, smooth transmission shifts. All-wheel drive, no squealing of tyres, thanks to the equal power to all tyres, Quattro,the new eight-speed gearbox shifting ratios is like it's playing a musical tune.

Absolutely the wind noise is non-existent; slight hiss of the road noise. The suspension is heavenly, a bad bump, only if you hit it hard, you feel it, but you don't hear them. The A8 L handles with comfort and poise, a floaty feeling with the clouds. It’s a solid and large car. The Adaptive air suspension have 4 selectable modes (auto, dynamic, comfort and lift), which are selectable through MMI, press Dynamic.

The road handling and holding is very impressive of this elongation and weight, the air suspension is very seriously adaptable. The Audi drive select system which changes the engine mapping system and alters the damping rate to the modes one chooses, the drive is amazing and the Quattro featured assists in stupendous power and handling at high speeds, straight stretch or on a long curve too. I did find a bit of body roll and soft handling, having being used to other German limos, which are a lot more precise and bit hard.

All A8 models have quattro all-wheel drive as a standard option and which is calibrated to feel sporty and have better handling on tight and sharp turns and corners and negotiate slippery road surfaces.

The Quattro system balances and provides 40/60 front/rear torque split. This system sends 60 percent of torque to the rear wheels, or to whichever wheels having the best traction, optimizing the handling and holding.  On detection of slip, majority of the power gets transferred to the other axle.

quattro® with sport differential

The sports differential is standard, which optimizes the engine’s torque between the rear wheels, boosting the driver’s appetite for negotiating aggressive corners with an equally aggressive speed.

The aluminum suspension gets a re-designed adaptive air suspension. for a smoother and more refined ride and crisper handling response. A8 gets the five-link suspension at its front with anti-roll bar and trapezoidal link for the rear. To keep the sprung mass low, the suspension arms are all made of forged aluminum and the hollow anti-roll bars increase torsion rigidity which are made up of high-strength tubes to reduce weight.
The new A8 models get Audi’s clever ‘Drive Select’ electronic adaptive chassis tuning package, wherein the driver can select from three quite different characters - ‘comfort’, ‘auto’ and ‘dynamic’ modes, each of which alter the steering response and weight, damper settings and transmission shift points, making it quickest in dynamic mode.Being a dyanamic person myself, I always prefer the dynamic mode ;)
In the ‘Dynamic’ mode, chassis is aggressive and brisk. The steering slightly heavier the damping firmer,   acceleration more responsive and on turns and corners, is negotiating with charm with touches of aggression, this is where the sports differential is active. One can actually take sharp swerves while the tyres with ease are hugging the road. The electronic chassis assists in being rock steady.
Maneuvering in traffic is a bit heavy and while parking you have to be cautious, rear screen display assists and a turning radius of 12.7m makes it a lot easy for driver and there is all-around good visibility. 

Figures are astonishing,  0 - 100 kph in 5.6 seconds, keep throttle nailed for about 19 more secs, goddamn, wowww, its touched 200 kph, shhhhhh. Well it’s the AUDI engineering, it’s a marvel of the V8 diesel under the wide bonnet. The engineers at Audi have designed the eight-speed automatic to absorb all that torque and transmit it to all four wheels. Audi’s S-Tronic dual-clutch gearbox performs seamless shifts and instantaneous power. When in traffic and overtaking, the instant kick down proves it with the 30-50kph time of 2.0 seconds and 50-70kph time of 2.2 seconds. Power is sent to all four wheels via the quattro all-wheel drive system.

No delusion here, driving and negotiating from The Leela to Nariman Pt., piloting was fun, there are little torturous strips, lots of twist and turns, some very bumpy and straight roads and the sea link, the best top speed toucher and tester will be a testament of my driving skills.

Piloting inside, the external noise is shut off, listening to Nicky Romero is joyous on these Bang & Olufsen sound systems as they are best suited for German Cars, and even BMW’s have them. 

The Bang & Olufsen Advanced sound system has  19 loudspeakers (including subwoofer), each with its own amplifier channel; and 14-channel DSP all-digital amplifier; all-digital highly efficient 5-channel ICE Power amplifiers for woofers and subwoofers; 5.1 Surround Sound reproduction possible, total output of over 1,400 watts of B&O-patented aural are at one's disposal, dignified. As the volume cranked up, the impactful bass is comparable to a live DJ performance.

The cockpit is easy to understand and defines functionality. Directly in front of the pilot, between the speedometer and tachometer, the 7" infotainment display provides info on the navigation instructions.

On the right side of the center console, obviously the armrest, no pilot should do without and perfectly positioned to change the gears manually on the yacht-inspired shifter.

The innovative interface AUDI has introduced is with the first application of its MMI Touch interface, impressive and situated on the left side of the center console. The rectangular touchpad allows you to recognize to write letters with your fingertip, change music in the jukebox, compatible with the telephone, all this effortlessly scrolling through the menus. There are six hard keys located around the central rotary/push-button control, intuitive. The new carousel layout makes it even better for an overview. One of the functions on the menu, press the hard key for Car, this function allows the direct control of driver assistance program, vehicle settings, climate control, auxiliary heating and service. Fully loaded Media options, such as Jukebox, SDHC cards, CD's or DVD's, has a 6 DVD changer, perfect for the rear seat passenger, watch movie on long drives to your destination, get a good massage while sipping wine or champagne, maybe malt.

Sharp and large LED screen displaying all info from audio video to vehicles settings, temp., etc  with beautiful dials that matches the dashboard design. MMI with levels of personalisation and monitoring the car dynamics, feel like a pilot. 

Why does one need to go home after a hard day’s work, you have high luxe ambience, a 1,400-watt Bang & Olufsen stereo, massage chairs and the champagne hidden, hmmmmm....

This Audi certainly lives up to its Vorsprung durch Technique. Relatively speaking, what we have here, then, is a svelte and stylish limo.

My driving companions are left shaking their heads and I'm left with an unmistakable grin.

The most innovative about the third generation A8 is the advanced aluminum body and space-frame construction which has reduced weight, even though the A8’s have been aluminum since the series debuted in 1993. There has been a lot of use of new alloys and composite materials, which has made the body stiffer and lighter, simultaneously used largely in suspension and axle design parts. ASF lowers weight by about 40% and boosts strength. The engineers at Ingolstadt have made the new A8 lighter while paying close attention to rigidity and the torsion stiffness which has been increased by 15%. The other major engineering innovations are the hot-shaped steel used for the B-pillar to improve the crash safety and the usage of a special aluminum alloy called ‘fusion alloy’ to reduce flab.

Audi Space Frame

Entire A8 line constructed using ASF technology; using extruded aluminum and laser welded body panels, ASF technology helps increase rigidity while decreasing weight.

The fourth-generation A8 model is newly engineered and adopts variation of Audi’s MLB (Modulare Längsbaukasten), a modular platform, a new longitudinal power train layout, which places the engine and major drive train components sitting further back and mounted on a separate sub-frame over the front axle, improved steering response and handling capabilities. The engines have been re-worked and paired with a new 8-speed auto box. It must have been a challenge for the Audi engineers to rein the force of 800Nm with pairing the responsive eight-speed automatic. The ride height can also be adjusted depending on the mode of your suspension setting.

The braking capability is assisted by a host of electronics to keep passengers safe. ABS with EBD and brake assist gets the A8 to a complete halt from 80-0kph in 29.9 meters in heavy rains without a hint of a slide or swerve. Electronics assist brake fade driving, ensuring aggressive driving will have same braking performance repeatedly. The brakes are very effective, feather touch and smooth stops progressively.

The thrust to 100km/h in 5.6secs, A8sonic is dazzling. The engine is extremely frugal and sips only 6-7L per 100kms. All thanks to the common rail technology that comes with direct injection meaning it injects the fuel directly into the piston chamber.

It is a very imposing AUDI, designed in an utterly impressive style.

Among the high-tech safety gizmos are Audi's adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitors, and lane assist, which detects and warns drivers when the A8 is drifting outside of a marked line on the road. The technological gadgetry continues inside including a touchpad that responds to handwritten commands to control numerous functions including the navigation and climate control system. He long wheelbase version of Audi A8 delivers comfort and safety standards of distinction.
Audi has given priority and importance to safety to its driver and its passengers with the latest safety features that ensure all-round protection for the passengers.. A pre-sense safety system is active to avoid accidents and to minimizing their consequences. The driver is protected on impact by six airbags, and panic braking and swerving, the all-wheel drive, electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes do assist in minimizing the damage and assist in safe stop mode.

For avoiding a crash like situation, Active safety features are always working in passenger's favor to avoid the worst case outcome. In the incident of a crash, the ESP is activated instantly with the negative feedback response. The front passengers are protected by airbags with two-stage activation, while the driver is protected by an innovative ring-type airbag, whose radial unfolding pattern is proven more effective in reducing accident injury. The Audi A8 Space Frame exceeds all current industry safety standards with its high torsional stiffness, improving both the ride and handling. The Audi A8 4.2 TDI Quattro is extremely well equipped to tackle the impact head on. 

The standard safety features are anti-theft system, dual stage seat belts, Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), Antilock Braking System (ABS), brake assist, and electromechanical parking brake.  The 'Servotronic' system technology ensures precise controlling at high speed and minimum efforts while parking for the drive, ensuring safety.

 ThemmI system recognizes complex scenarios and implements pro active steps to assist the driver. On safety, AUDI has gone a step ahead in predicting hazards human mind cannot detect sitting inside. Specifically the new Audi braking guard system, on sensing of obstacles or hazards ahead, sounds a warning and senses the brakes which warns the driver. In case it determines unavoidable collision iand to minimize the severity of it, it delivers a strong braking. The Audi Pre Sense helps to reduce the severity of a crash by pre - readying vehicle safety systems, adjusting seats to an ideal position, closing the sunroof and windows and stiffening the suspension, found in Mercedes and BMW too. Adaptive cruise control (with a stop-and-go function), night vision assistant with pedestrian detection, Audi lane assist and Audi side assist are available in the Top driver-assistance technology.

Seeing the exteriors of the A8 4.2L, certainly need a few people to estimate its length and breath span, this private jet is larrgish. The exteriors are in line with the A series resemblance, only a lot larger and bigger in size, truly elongated. The sheer size is a staggering 202.2 inches stem-to-stern with a wheelbase of 117.8 inches, puts this in a different category for the luxo limozz.

Audi A8 has bagged seven awards from prestigious automotive publications magnifying AUDI’s brand essence 'Vorsprung durch Technik'. The model has won in categories such as Technology and Innovation and also garnered the Premium Luxury Car of the Year and Premium CBU Luxury Sedan of the Year.

Dual exhaust and LED taillamps cap off the rear end with a hint at the A8's performance capabilities, too. A8 instantly oozes status and prestige without being all in your face about it.

The A8 has the traditional Audi nose with the chrome-clad grille trapezoidal grille, horizontal lines, and the prominent four-ringed logo. The headlight housing features inset sharp LED daytime running lights which are designed in a unique swooping line.

The side profile very simple conservatively styled with simple lines and sharp angles, but the front of it gives the bold and mean look contributing to its serious character road presence. 

With an A8 4.2L, it’s too tempting to drive on your own, no chauffeur.  Snugged in the driver’s seat, one can power adjust 22-ways, get massaged while driving and heated seats too. 

The AUDI monarch's A8 4.2L imposing presence at the time of delivery for the drive, did make me feel exhilarated, no PILOTS license required.

Setting new standards for luxury and elegance, the philosophy of 'Vorsprung durch Technik', the Audi A8 4.2L exudes elegance and luxury through its intelligent engineering and technical specifications.

Strong acceleration and nimble, responsive handling; fuel efficiency; backseat room in A8L; excellent MMI interface; extensive driver-safety and accident-avoidance features. It is a very imposing AUDI, designed in an utterly impressive style.


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