- The Washington Times - Friday, May 21, 2010

Ingolstadt, Germany | The new A8 is a concentrated high-tech package that confirms 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 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 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.

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.

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.

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 center 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 programs 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.

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.

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 engine is known as the W12 because of its unusual layout: 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 layout makes the W12 engine exceptionally compact: only just over 50 centimeters (19.69 in) long and therefore distinctly shorter than a V8. Height and width are both in the region of 70 centimeters (27.56 in).

The W12, in its latest form with a displacement of 6,299 cc, is an undersquare design. Its bore and stroke are 86.0 and 90.4 millimeters (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.

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