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Audi A8 2019 Car of the Year review

By Toby Hagon, 25 Apr 2019 COTY

Audi A8

Checks into first class, but hits turbulence on COTY route

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There’s no pleasing some COTY judges, with Carey quickly hurling words like “charmless” and “bulky” at the latest Audi A8. Character assassinations aside, by limousine standards, the all-new car oozes COTY cred. 

New model naming and a tech injection headline the rethink, with safety stepping up via active systems to avoid myriad crash scenarios and even prevent doorings. A whiff of mild-hybrid electric assistance beneath the bonnet cements its place on the grid.

Key to the fourth-gen A8’s appeal is an entry price shaved by a few grand while the high-end-gadget count has stepped up, especially in terms of digital screens.

Read more about the Audi A8

And it’s those prominent central touchscreens – with haptic feedback – in an otherwise restrained Teutonic cabin that sparked debate. Pixels count for wow factor, but judges questioned whether the lower OLED screen controlling ventilation brought significant benefit over buttons and dials.

There was no such apprehension regarding hardware, with the 17-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio, four-zone ventilation and Valcona leather all in keeping with the $192K-plus price. Heated rear pews in the long wheelbase – which adds 130mm for serious stretchability – reaffirm the emphasis on ensuring occupants are appropriately cosseted.

Double-glazed glass adds to the hushed serenity and back-seaters even get a removable OLED device, a fitting full stop for a cabin that truly delivers on luxury.

The A8 stays true to its predecessors’ template: aluminium body riding on adaptive air suspension and the choice of two wheelbases, both of which made a COTY appearance.

Read next: 2018 Audi A8 review

Steering brings meaningful weight, and sizeable rubber (ours were on 20s) hunkers nicely to deliver cornering thrills. Ramp up the pace and the A8 relishes the challenge, predictable understeer creeping in at the (high) limit.

The lengthened wheelbase was deemed a better investment than the $4500 for four-wheel steering.

Only over the PG’s vicious stutters does the suspension crash and confuse the luxury message; should the chassis tune swing further to passengers rather than driver?

The V6 drivetrains deliver, though. The 600Nm hit from the 3.0-litre in the 50TDI is beautifully matched to a long-legged eight-speed auto that glides between ratios. There’s additional zing in the petrol-powered 3.0 turbo 55TFSI, its 250kW peak compensating for the 100Nm shortfall.

Efficiency is aided by a 48v mild-hybrid system that utilises the torque of the starter motor at low speeds, while also running ancillary systems. That contributes to fuel use as low as 5.9L/100km, which is impressive.

Read next: 2018 Audi A8 pricing and features

However, the A8’s aluminium integrity was called into question. Despite claims of a sub-two-tonne kerb weight, the PG scales saw our cars weigh in at 2145 and 2186kg. Sure, they were plumped with options, but 200kg of them?

Speaking of which, value weakens with each box tick. Audi focuses on option packs, but prices quickly get frightening.

The A8’s value and comfort are also bettered by a Lexus LS, and its dynamics closely shaded by a BMW 7 Series.

The Audi A8 is a terrific limousine, but it doesn’t bring significant advances, this time, against the COTY criteria.