The restyled Audi A8 focuses more than ever on its plug-in hybrid version. For its second term, this minister’s car promises an even more economical and ecological program. Promises kept for this first test.
Flagship of the range, the Audi A8 has a duty to set an example. Although familiar with the closed circle of luxury cars, the limousine must consider improving its image by showing sobriety. This is the only possible way out to avoid being pinned down by the authorities and allow the brand with the rings to pass under the controls. But also to sell the models, popular with customers fond of tax optimization: with a market share of 38% in 2020, the PHEV version represented 90% of total sales last year! And purchase intentions are not likely to change in the face of the prohibitive penalty.
For this second version, the Audi A8 60 TFSI e offers itself a slight makeover, just to mark the break with the previous half-generation. As usual, the changes are very fine and we notice more the sharper look and the rear light signature is now customizable on purchase. The A8 also thinks of ripolining the facade with a partially chromed grille and equally flashy side vents.
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Strengthening its image is what it is also doing with its new “ecological” program: investing in “clean” energy and promising an even more favorable carbon footprint. The 14.4 kWh battery is sufficient to allow it to meet the requirements of the WLTP standard when declaring its resources: 45 g/km of CO2 and 2.0 l/100 km maximum. These extremist and promising performances are the result of an electric range of 54 km , rather favorable for a machine of 2,340 kg in working order without driver or passengers. Under the hood sits the 3.0 liter biturbo V6 which, with the electric motor, increases the power of the tandem to 462 hp for 700 Nm of torque.
A more favorable overall balance sheet
More than its electric range ( it will take an average of around 44 km in most situations ), we have mainly looked at its energy balance in hybrid mode by default, on an extra-urban journey, with a coupling function at on-board navigation. This operating principle allows the system to manage the entire load over the entire journey, to optimize consumption as well as possible. However, this system is still dependent on the on-board navigation and it will therefore be necessary to activate it, on the front or in the background, to take advantage of it. If you use Waze or any other mobile navigation, the management cannot do its job.
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If there are a few rare hesitations, if not choices that we would not necessarily have adopted in “manual” driving, the system always shows itself to be far-sighted. Especially on mountain passes, where the steepest gradients can be tackled using the sole force of the 135 hp electric motor at peak so as not to blow up consumption. All while managing to build up and keep a small reserve to finish the trip without emissions. After a journey of nearly 180 km, the limousine presented an average of 6.4 l/100 km . A remarkable score!
But let us specify that if the positive difference in altitude proved demanding, the descent of the pass and the rest of the route were particularly favorable to the hybrid mechanics, with a rate of use of the electric machine of 45% over the entire route of after the central display. Allow us to consider, according to our theoretical calculations, an average close to 7.0 l / 100 km in normal times, when it would be necessary to count on almost 8.5 l / 100 km with the empty battery.
For fans of eco-driving, the Audi A8 does not have a selectable B mode on the center console or on the gearbox control. This requires relying on automatic management, which encourages the driver to ease off depending on the situation by vibrating the accelerator pedal. It’s confusing, but we find ourselves obeying without flinching as the system is so playful: regenerative braking modulates the deceleration force according to the angle of descent or switches to (real) freewheel mode when possible. . These are the secrets of its consumption on this kind of extra-urban journey, which also has the advantage of preserving peace of mind on board.
In the end, we come to forget the V6, with hushed notes and muzzled by the flawless soundproofing of the A8. If necessary, it knows how to be present with a 0-100 km/h in 4.9 s and an 80-120 km/h kick-down which we timed in 4.12 s, response time of the box sometimes numb included. But this is not the creed of such a sedan which pampers its passengers with all the necessary comfort and pleasant adaptive damping if not to present a real magic carpet effect. In bends, it takes advantage of the optional four-wheel steering system (€2,230) which allows it to make you forget its measurements in bends. The rear wheel steering angle is less impressive than on a Mercedes S-Class, but it still drops the turning circle to 12.5m.
A Business Class interior
Inside, the Audi A8 does not fundamentally change and remains within the brand’s standards. Admittedly, the stretched leather, the veneers and the finishes do not suffer from any criticism. Which is not totally the case for the overall ergonomics, without it being disturbing for drivers who will quickly get used to it. However, the cabin may lack some rhinestones and glitter for aficionados of the genre at this level of the range. With the treatment of their materials, the BMW 750e xDrive or Mercedes S-Class 580e know how to show that they belong to a caste apart. Question of nuance, like that which distinguishes a Business class from a First Class in aviation.
But there is something for everyone, whether it is the often important rear passengers or the driver who benefits from all the brand’s latest technological discoveries. In particular digital lighting, which can display welcome animations on a wall or a luminous carpet on the road to better understand the width of the lanes. In short, the Audi A8 relies on assistantship, but the option policy is something to cool: even with the high-end Avus Extended finish , you will have to pay €3,540 for the Digital Matrix LED headlights, 790 € for the acoustic windows, €470 for the heated steering wheel or €600 for the rear control panel. And this even on the L version with the wheelbase extended by 13 cm, where everything happens at the rear.
On the other hand, the sedan puts the package in terms of charging as standard: to take full advantage of the on -board 7.3 kW AC charger , the brand with the rings provides a T2s / T2 Mode 3 charging cable for the charging stations, as well as a an EF/T2 cable for recharging on a household socket with a maximum power of 1.8 kW (or 3.6 kW with a reinforced socket). But the ICCB module of this cable also allows the connection of an adapter to connect to a P17 socket, in the spirit of what the Juice Booster cable offers . Still, there is no room in the trunk to store them. On the other hand, it does not have a Combo-CCS fast charging system , of limited interest, however, as is the case in the S-Class.
The last before the big replacement
For this restyling, the Audi A8 still promises more savings. And its various technical innovations allow it not to deceive those who will choose this limousine. A transition mandate of a handful of additional years, which allows you to take more advantage of electric motor skills in a padded cocoon, before the arrival of the great replacement: an all-electric Audi A8 e-tron that the Grand Sphere implicitly foreshadows Concept .
Undoubtedly, it should be even more successful in its seduction campaign than before, especially since customers will be much more tempted to block the penalty. Starting at €116,500 (€123,100 for the Limousine version in our test) and factoring in the ecological tax and weight equation, the entry-level 60 TFSI e version is €6,000 more expensive than the 50 TDI equivalent. But the trend is reversed with the top of the range, and therefore the highest level of CO2 emissions: with its €15,506 penalty and €2,950 weight tax, diesel becomes more expensive than the rechargeable hybrid, without the promises of developments in 100% electric mode, nor all the other small tax arrangements.