|Audi A8 L W12 quattro|
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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.
With an overall length of 5,267 millimeters (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 aluminum using the Audi Space Frame (ASF) principle and therefore weighing about 40 percent less than a comparable steel body. The ASF body structure is built up from cast elements, extruded sections and sheet aluminum, 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.
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.
The full extra length of this sedan benefits rear-seat passengers. The back doors are longer, for even more convenient entry, 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.
The quality of workmanship in the 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.
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 gasoline 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 only 12.0 liters per 100 kilometers (19.6 US mpg), a figure well below that of competitors' cars with V12 engines. The previous 6.0-liter engine, which had a power output of 331 kW (450 hp), recorded a fuel consumption of 13.6 l/100 km (17.3 US mpg) - the difference of 1.6 l/100 km is equivalent to a 12 percent improvement.
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 center 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 percent to the rear axle and 40 percent to the front in regular driving conditions. But if the situation changes, up to 60 percent of the torque can be sent to the front, or 80 percent to the rear. An optional sport differential splits the torque input actively between the left and right rear wheels.
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 aluminum. 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.
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 center console, acts as control centers 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 disk, 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.
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 cell-phone contract.
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