Audi A8: Express rivals

  • Audi A8 limo takes on rapid premium rival
  • Porsche Panamera has one diesel option
  • But which is the luxury king of the fast lane

The Audi A8 is first and foremost a very comfortable and posh way to travel.

Witness the number of four-ringed large saloons that swish their way to the Baftas before depositing their Dior- and tux-wearing celebrities on to the red carpet.

However, our long term test Audi A8 also shows it has another trick up its sleeve: it’s fecking quick. Given that when you pull up at the service station you head for the diesel pump, and this is not a svelte set of wheels compared to a full on sports car.

That’s why it’s acceleration and top speed is all the more impressive. It’s nearly a two-tonne car powered by a hefty 4.2-litre V8 diesel that is not exactly a star advert for Weight Watches itself.

So given that, its ability to sprint from standstill to 60mph in just 5.3 seconds and the fact it can hit a top speed of 155mph means it is startlingly quick.

Given that can it take on rivals more known for performance? How about a Porsche Panamera for example, especially given Porsche now offers a V6 diesel version and prices are similar. In fact, the standard Porsche Panamera V6 diesel costs just over £65k while the standard A8 V8 diesel costs £65,880 in Quattro SE spec. So how do they square up?

Audi A8 interior

Interior comparison

The Audi A8 is great for a luxurious interior aimed at pampering four people and can carry five (but then you can’t access the fridge), with the two rear-most seats proving to be the place to be.

The A8 provides TV and DVD entertainment along with electrically adjusted seats that are heated and cooled, plus you even get a walnut veneer desk to work on. And that’s in the back!

The Panamera is strictly for four and it is snug fit for all thanks to the central divide that runs from the front through to the rear and divides the two rear seat passengers.

As far as fit and finish is concerned the pair trade equal blows as both deliver an high quality cabin and it’s a lovely place to spend time whether you are driver or passenger.  

Porsche Panamera interior

Performance and handling

On the face of it, it doesn’t seem a fair fight. The Panamera has a V6, the A8 a V8. The Porsche power plant is only 3 litres, while the Audi flexes 4.2 litres, so it is no surprise that the four-ringed saloon has the legs on its German counterpart.

The Audi nails the sprint to 60mph from standstill in 4.5 seconds and can crack 155mph, the Porsche takes 6.6 seconds and manages a top speed of 150mph.  

But it’s not just about straight-line speed, it’s about getting from A to B and that involves corners. That’s something the Porsche has the advantage on not least because it is lighter at 1,880kg compared to the Audi’s portly 2,040kgs, so it is more agile.

So which is best?

This is two takes on express, luxury travel. The Audi comes at it from the point of wafting VIPs along in serene comfort, while the Porsche emphasises more its ability to dispatch a journey quickly.

The Audi has far more space to stretch out in and more kit to wile away the journey, but the Porsche is kinder to your wallet in terms of both buying and running it.

For me, I rather like the fact the Audi A8 mixes this blend of rapido pace with passenger luxury. It’s a strange mix, a bit like sour sweets, you won’t expect the combination of opposites to work but it surprisingly does.

However, if I had to get to a business meeting in a hurry, I’d fancy my chances more in the Porsche Panamera. I’d be more frazzled when I got there but I’d more likely to make it on time.

Miles: 7,127

MPG: 32.4

Porsche Panamera diesel vs Audi A8 V8 diesel