Parkers overall rating: 4.8 out of 5 4.8
  • Petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid options
  • All come with plenty of confident performance
  • S8 model turns up the heat with a 4.0-litre V8

A reasonably wide range here to suit most budgets and preferences – from six-cylinder petrol and diesels, plus a plug-in hybrid and the performance-focussed S8.

Diesel power – 50 TDI

We'll start with the V6 TDI version, which is an effortless performer. Acceleration is rapid, but in Comfort mode, it never really feels it thanks to a slightly lazy throttle necessary for wafty driving.

But put it in Dynamic and the TDI wakes up, with instant response, and plenty of get-up and go to match that sub-six-second 0-62mph time. It definitely feels happiest at high speeds, where the 70mph motorway slot trickles along at little more than 1,500rpm, but with plenty in reserve.

With 286hp and 600Nm of torque it will still accelerate this large saloon from 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds, and on to a maximum speed of 155mph.

The diesel engine is quite gruff, but it's so well insulated that you'll seldom hear it, especially if you're running it with the impressive B&O stereo system on anything other than minimum volume.

Petrol power – 55 TFSI

This is the preferable option from anything other than a strictly financial stand point. With 340hp and 500Nm of torque on tap, it delivers quite a punch. But it does so in a refined and eager way, revving cleanly to 7,000rpm should you be in a sporting mood.

2020 Audi A8 TFSI e front driving

It’s not that much faster in reality, reducing the acceleration run to 5.6 seconds (5.7 for the long wheelbase car), while the limited top speed remains unchanged.

Dynamic mode delivers meaningfully sharper gearchanges, and a more responsive throttle brings better mid-range punch as a consequence. Then in Efficiency mode, the A8 will coast when off the throttle, but only between 35 and 100mph.

Hybrid Audi A8

This plug-in hybrid limo is the best all-rounder in the range thanks to the wafty silence of its electric drivetrain around town and the extra flexibility and shove of its petrol V6 (taken from the 55 TFSI) which combined delivers a total system output of 449hp and 700Nm of torque.

It also boasts the fastest 0-62mph time of the standard A8 range – 4.9 seconds, although the top speed remains 155mph. On electric power alone you can reach 84mph.

That means you only really need petrol assistance to accelerate faster than the electric drivetrain allows, and this is helpfully managed by an artificial ‘stop’ in the gas pedal’s stroke, allowing you to access maximum propulsion from the battery without waking up the V6.

Regenerative braking linked to the traffic around you and sat nav data means the car can be slowed down without using the physical discs and pads 90% of the time, helping claw back power for the battery. It also helps with the overall calming effect of this drivetrain, because the car will begin to slow down for a roundabout or junction way before you’ve even seen it, so you arrive at the right speed without any need for a harsh stop.

Audi S8

This performance-focussed model is powered by a 4.0-litre, twin-turbocharged petrol V8. This offers up 571hp (slightly less than the previous S8 Plus model) and 800Nm of torque. We haven’t driven it yet but on those numbers alone, reckon it should be quite fast.

Handling

  • Comfort a priority in a car like this
  • Solid grip and strong roadholding
  • Long wheelbase cars require careful road placement

The Audi A8 is an out-and-out limo so it has been designed to offer maximum comfort for rear-seat passengers, but the four rings on the grille means also needs to be capable of putting its power down to the road confidently in all weathers.

Drive range from Comfort to Dynamic, while there’s a middling setting called Auto that tries to predict what sort of response you want from the suspension. That said, even in the passenger-biased Comfort mode, you'll be surprised at just how agile a huge car like this can be.

As you’d expect the A8 comes as standard with air suspension so its handling remains calm and unflustered – and it's capable of cornering quickly and without drama.

Driver enjoyment is obviously not a huge priority in a car like this and in fact the various methods employed to isolate passengers from road defects and noise means the driver feels a bit subtracted from the actual process too.

2020 Audi A8 TFSI e rear driving

It’s also a very large car, particularly in long wheelbase format so demands space and concentration. There is some body roll but not enough to cause concern – bear in mind a roly poly body is as much a comfort issue in a car like this as too-hard suspension. All-in-all, it's a remarkable performance for a car of this size.

Most importantly, it's a big improvement on this score over its predecessor, which only improves in Dynamic mode, which sharpens the steering and firms up the ride. It's precise, accurate, and easy to place.

Quattro all-wheel drive can shuffle the power to the axle where it’s most useful and means you’d have to be driving way past your passenger’s comfort levels before the tyres started to lose grip.

An assured performance, then, whatever the drive mode.