Last Chance To Buy: Audi A8

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Indy Lifestyle Online

When's it going?

There's a new A8 available right now, although you do struggle to see the differences. Look closely though and you may spot a new grille, fresh alloy design and new door mirrors with integrated indicators. It's also a bit greener and has lost a bit of weight. Under the bonnet is a very efficient 2.8 V6 engine that has lower CO2 emissions and returns 34mpg. The old models are still nice though and offer great value.

What's good about it?

This is an understated luxury saloon, well built with a magnificent range of engines. The recent upgrade in 2003 to the interior and exterior styling managed to refine the A8 still further. More room, more power and it's better than ever to drive. Passengers too have felt the improvements as it is also more comfortable than ever.

Buyers have a wide choice of engine options. There are three basic units starting with a 3.2 litre which drives the front wheels whereas at the top of the range there are four-wheel drive (quattro) V8s and the ultimate high performance S8. The most interesting option is the 3.0-litre turbodiesel which manages a creditable 33.6mpg overall combined with muscular performance. Inside there is masses of room whilst engine and road noise are kept to the bare minimum. Comfort for driver and passengers is a priority and the standard equipment list is extensive. There is an aura of quality and solidity rather than flashy details. It is no surprise to find that Audi sells more eight- and 12-cylinder cars in this class in Western Europe than any other prestige manufacturer. Better quality than a Merc and a more subtle image than an arrogant BMW, the A8 is one of the best limos you can buy.

What's bad about it?

The A8 could be too subtle for some. To a few it looks like a giant Audi A4 and that just isn't flash enough. A knob between the seats that controls all the stereo, sat nav and suspension settings amongst dozens of others via a dash-mounted screen is not the most intuitive system to use. Running costs should not bother those with pockets deep enough to finance an A8. Residual values have been nowhere near the Mercedes S-Class and a petrol V8 manages 24mpg overall, but will struggle in the mid teens around town.

How much?

A lot of Audi dealers are running A8s as demonstrators and you can buy them with just a few thousand miles on the clock as they have to clear the forecourts of the old models. At Sinclair Audi in Swindon (0845 123 8162) you can buy a 2007 4.2 TDi Quattro Sport which had covered 1,000 miles for £55,995. It would have cost £61,570 new. Brokers such as buyacar.co.uk are offering a 3.0TDi SE for £44,736 saving £4,922.

Any snags?

Not really. Full history is needed and recently we have heard about a dealer fix for some malfunctioning Sat Nav systems. From 1999 there have only been a few recalls, one for an automatic transmission that locks up, premature wear of the steering balljoint and replacement of the driver's airbag.

Specifications

Launched: 1994

Engine size: 2.8; 3.0; 3.2; 3.7; 4.2; 3.0TD; 4.0TD; 4.2TD; 6.0 W12

Performance: 3.0TD top speed 151mph 0-60mph 7.8 seconds

Economy: 32.8mpg

Safety: NCAP, */a

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