New 2022 Audi A8 review

Nick Francis

15 Feb 2022

1/6
With a nip and a tuck, plus a smattering of new tech, Audi has updated the A8 luxury limo. But how does it stack up next to the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class?

YesAuto Score:

83/ 100

This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car.

YesAuto’s exhaustive evaluation criteria considers every aspect of a car in terms of how it stacks up against rival models in the same class only. Below are the areas every car is judged and scored out of 10 on, each contributing to an overall score out of 100:

  • Interior quality and design
  • Interior tech
  • Interior space
  • Boot space
  • Engine performance
  • Engine economy
  • Ride and comfort
  • Handling
  • Driving and safety tech
  • Fit for purpose

Electric cars are scored out of 10 in the following areas instead of performance and economy:

  • Battery and motor
  • Range and charging

PROS:

+ Luxurious cabin front and back

+ Superb build quality 

+ Impressive performance from S8 model


CONS: 

- Mercedes S-Class has a more exciting interior

- BMW 7 Series drives better

- Plug-in hybrid model sacrifices boot space


Verdict: The Audi A8 is a great car to be driven in, but if you prefer driving yourself then the BMW 7 Series is more fun. The Mercedes S-Class has more wow factor when it comes to the interior too. Still, the margins are small in the luxury limo segment.



2022 Audi A8: walking around it


The Audi A8 is already onto a winner when it comes to design. Not because it’s astoundingly beautiful – it’s still just a large saloon after all – but because its key rival, the new BMW 7 Series, has adopted that ‘only-a-mother-could-love’ giant front grille. 


Audi hasn’t gone mad for the facelift. It’s enlarged the grille, but not nearly to the extent of the 7 Series, and added a bit more chrome around it to brighten up the nose. The wider grille is flanked by revised air intakes which are more upright than before.


When it comes to the back, there’s a new light strip and a bit more chrome trim, but not so much it looks blingy. If you opt for the most expensive S8 you’ll get four oval tailpipes to let drivers behind you know you’re richer and more adventurous than the average A8 buyer.


On top of that, Audi has added 11 new colours to the palette and, for the first time with the A8, gives the option of an S Line trim. As with other Audis, you get a few more sporty flourishes via a body kit, but it also comes with privacy glass which is double glazed for a more peaceful cabin, as well as 20-inch alloys and an S Line steering wheel.


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but we think the A8 is a handsome car in an understated kind of way, which might be enough to persuade some customers away from the more flamboyant-looking Mercedes S-Class and downright ugly BMW 7 Series. 



2022 Audi A8: sitting inside it


Again, Audi hasn’t exactly ripped up the blueprint and started again with the interior, and that’s a good thing in our book. There are the familiar expanses of gloss black plastic and plush leather trim in every area your fingers touch. The dashboard is wide and sweeping there’s a chunky leather-wrapped drive selector that feels great in the hand. 


As with the old model, the Audi A8 offers superb build quality on a par with more expensive cars from brands like Bentley. The design feels modern and classy, a very grown-up car for grown-up people.


If you opt for the S Line model you’ll get that sports steering wheel we mentioned, as well as some extra-supportive leather seats. You’ll have to upgrade to the top spec Vorsprung trim if you want those seats to give you a gentle rubdown while on the move, although heated seats are standard throughout the range. 


For full chauffeur spec you can add massaging rear seats with heated footrests, plus a built-in cooler with a ‘bar’ section. Unlike most cars, the back of the A8 is more of an event than the front.   



2022 Audi A8: using the tech 


Dominating the view from the front seats is a two-screen stack, one on top of the other. The upper 8.6-inch screen sits in the middle of the dash and hosts the infotainment system while the lower 10.1-inch screen is integrated with the centre console and is used for common functions like the climate control.


While some buyers might not like the lack of physical buttons, the screens are so big and bright that prodding them on the move isn’t a problem at all. Even so, BMW diehards would be right in saying the rotary dial on the iDrive system is more intuitive still. 


All A8s come with Audi’s impressive virtual cockpit display too, a 12.3-inch digital driver display with a huge range of options when it comes to information displayed behind the steering wheel. This means you can follow sat nav directions, for example, without having to look at the screens to your left. 


With a starting price of £74,985 for the entry S model it’s no surprise the A8 comes with an impressive bundle of standard tech, including a head-up display and adaptive cruise control. Plus a host of safety functions such as turn assist, which stops drivers from turning into the path of an oncoming vehicle.


Top spec models get a 360-degree camera and digital matrix headlights.



2022 Audi A8: getting stuff in it


Because this is a car popular with chauffeurs and those rich enough to be chauffeured, the A8 can be had as a long-wheelbase version. Even so, leg and headroom in the back of the standard model are still generous and more than enough for those who just want a large family saloon. Of course, there are only two proper seats in the back.


If you want to stretch out, the long wheelbase model is the one for you. You can also choose to add fold-out tables, plus two 10.1-inch HD television screens in the back of the front seats to watch Netflix on the move.


The doors open wide so climbing in and out isn’t an issue, and all around the cabin are found useful cubby holes and storage solutions, so there’s no excuse to ruin the lovely interior with clutter. 


With 505 litres of boot space the A8 is bang on par with its rivals, unless you opt for the plug-in hybrid model where it shrinks to 390 litres. Something for family buyers to be aware of, although we suspect it won’t matter so much for those who buy it as a company - 390 litres is still more room than something like a Ford Focus



2022 Audi A8: driving it 


The cheapest way to own an Audi A8 is to buy the 50 TDI – a 3.0-litre diesel V6 with a healthy 296hp and 600Nm of torque. The next step up is the 55 TFSI which uses a 3.0-litre petrol V6 and naturally adds a healthy dollop of power (344hp) but loses on torque (500Nm).


Before you get to the full fat S8 there’s the plug-in hybrid 60 TFSIe, which uses the same 3.0 petrol engine as the 55 TFSI but bolts on a 114.4kWh battery and electric motor. At the top, the S8 comes with a muscular 4.0-litre V8 unit which is good for 571hp and 800Nm of torque. 


All engines, other than the PHEV, come with a 48v mild hybrid system.


It probably goes without saying the most exciting to drive of all the engines is the S8. Not only is the 0-62mph dash done in just 3.8 seconds, but it also comes as standard with rear-wheel steering for improved high-speed stability and low speed agility. This is an optional extra on other models.


Another nifty trick, and this one is reserved for the S8 only, is a predictive active suspension system wthat uses an electric motor to load or unload power to each individual wheel to keep the chassis level, depending on the road surface ahead. It is a system that seems to work quite well, but we haven’t had the chance to drive the S8 on a mountain pass. 


The PHEV now offers an increased official electric range of 34 miles. During our test drive we managed around 30 miles, which is plenty for anyone who will only use their A8 around town, which will be the case for many customers. With an official economy of 156.9mpg it also makes a tasty case for company car buyers. Again, a big slice of the A8’s target audience. 


Even so, for those who anticipate long motorway slogs then the diesel is still king, with a solid 40.1mpg. Remember, once the PHEV has drained its battery, you’ll simply be driving a petrol V6 with added weight. 


All models come with air suspension as standard and, in general, the ride is very good, although it’s slightly busier than the S-Class, which means if you’re serious about being able to sleep without interruption in the back the Mercedes might be the wiser choice. 


The A8 isn’t as engaging to drive as the BMW 7 Series, however. It’s easy to manoeuvre, and the steering has a lightness to it which means you won’t get fatigued by loping bend after looping bend, but the BMW has more keenness to the way it turns in and corners flatter with a noticeably stiffer chassis. The S8 comes close, but the BMW is still the better driver’s car. 


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Nick Francis

15 Feb 2022