Kushan Mitra January 22, 2011In the magazine you would have read this little piece when I got into the back seat of an Audi A8L (among other things) which had the executive seating option and gave myself a back massage while being chauffeured around by Vikrant Singh of AutoBild India, a sister publication of our group. Well, I drove Vikrant on the return journey, but long story short how was this leviathan of a car to drive?
First things first, just remember that this Audi made in Ingolstadt is quite long and would be quite difficult to park anywhere, the 'L' in its name signifies 'Long Wheelbase' after all. But parking problems aside, since one assumes that if you have the Rs 85-odd lakh to spend on this car you would have a driveway at least as long as the car itself. What surprises you is the car's agility. On a deserted stretch of tarmac about 50 kilometers outside the capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur I met Mark, an Audi Experience driver who was going to give us some driving tips on the A8L.
Honestly, I have done these 'Driving Experience' things before, a white knuckled experience with a mad German driver doing things to a Porsche Cayenne that I still believe are impossible comes to mind as does sitting in a Lamborghini Gallardo trying to burn out some really expensive Pirelli's with someone who seemed to have come off the Milan ramp. But the Gallardo is a supercar and the Porsche Cayenne, well that was scary. But a long-wheelbase limousine doing flick-back turns activating the Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) and Traction Control (TCS) was rather impressive. And he let us play around with the car as well.
There is a reason this car is so nimble and agile. The thinking is that something so expensive would be bought by people who are fairly important and well their lives might occasionally be at risk. If they have escape from a hostile situation, the car should not let them down and Audi has gone to great lengths to ensure that. From the Aluminium space-frame body that keeps the cars weight down to an immensely powerful mother of an engine under the hood. This car is no joke. Put the pedal down and the eight-speed (yes, eight-speed) Automatic gearbox can shift through the gears getting you up past the 200 kilometer an hour mark with ease and very quickly.
But is it good enough to put the Mercedes S-Class and the BMW 7-series out of business? I really don't know. People who buy these cars also buy a badge and somehow when you've made it big enough in life to own one of these cars you somehow want a Mercedes, preferably in Black or dark Green. The intimidating dictatorial look, that neither the BMW nor the Audi seem to quite have. They are all extremely good cars mind you and if someone was to ask me to choose between them in terms of gadgets and performance, you really can't other than saying that the Audi is probably the newest of the three.
We should have some videos of the A8 Driving Experience up soon.