Northwest NEWS

August 9, 1999


Audi A-8

Test Drive: 1999 Audi A-8 4.2

   Competing in the ranks of the most luxurious vehicles on the market today, our test drive of the Audi A-8, 4.2 was an exhilarating experience. We drove the Audi across the state and back again, thoroughly enjoying the experience of the open road.

   This four-door, full-size European sedan provides all the creature comforts you could want in the spacious leather and suede cabin, and surpasses other models with its great road handling capability. It is the road handling that impressed us the most.

   Behind the wheel, we felt totally in tune with the car. The steering response in the 5-speed automatic was immediate, firm, and with no sway to the vehicle. At all speeds, the "Servotronic" speed-sensitive power rack-and-pinion steering left us with a sense of awareness for the road surface. After five hours of steady travel, we felt comfortable, rested, and ready to go on.

   The A-8 can be powered with two different V8 configurations. We drove the 4.2-liter engine that delivers 300hp with the maximum torque of 295 foot-pounds of energy at just 3,300rpm. The 4.2 is configured with Audi's permanent all-wheel drive "quattro IV" power delivery system. p>   A 3.7-liter engine that delivers 230hp at 5,500rpm and 235 foot-pounds of torque at 2,700rpm to a front-wheel drive system is also available. Both engines are engineered for DOHC and constructed of an aluminum alloy.

   Aluminum alloy castings, extrusions, and panels were also used to construct the frame and body, incorporating a unique design that provides a significant weight reduction over a steel body assembly. This lightweight construction is considered well-suited to provide the energy absorption that earned the vehicle the first, and highest, NCAP dual five-star safety rating for both the driver and the front seat passenger in a premium luxury class car.

   The driver and front seat passenger are further protected by airbags designed to give frontal and side impact protection. Unlike most cars with side airbag protection, the A8's is incorporated into the seats, rather than into the doors. It is the opinion of the Audi engineers that this placement allows better protection for the passenger no matter how they have positioned the seats.

   All the seats (including the back seats) have power lumbar adjustments. A nice feature was the height-adjustable front armrests. All outboard three-point seat belts can be adjusted for any height of passenger, which is a nice feature.

   Warm and cold weather packages provided a solar panel sunroof, manual rear-side window sunshades, a power rear sunshade, heated front and rear seats, heated steering wheel, and ski sack extension that is accessed through the trunk.

   Other special options include an electronics package with auto-dimming outside mirrors, power rear seat head restraint and lumbar adjustment for the outer seat positions, and Xenon headlights.

   We especially appreciated the great sound system. Developed by the Bose Corporation, it features eight high-quality speakers that deliver a clear and perfect sound to all seat positions.

   This is an expensive, but very nice car. And for those who wonder, it even has front headlight washers.

1999 Audi A-8 Sedan with quattro