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2009 Audi A8 Review

This review was written when the 2009 Audi A8 was new.

Reviewers say the A8 offers the handling of a small sports sedan, white-knuckle acceleration, the sure-footing of Audi's legendary Quattro all-wheel-drive system, and a luxurious cabin that outclasses many of the world's finest cars. However, it is one of the oldest designs in its class, and is due to be replaced in 2010.

Most years the A8 is easily outsold by its chief rivals, the BMW 7-Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. It is not, however, easily outclassed by them.

The A8 has had some reliability problems, and certain reviewers find flaws with the car's multimedia interface. But neither of those flaws amounts to much. The A8 remains an exceptional car, and a solid choice for the discerning buyer.

Remarkably, the A8 carries a lower base price than either the 7-Series or the S-Class, yet gives up little ground to those cars in amenities or performance. Thanks to its standard all-wheel-drive system, in fact, some reviewers say it can outperform them in wet conditions. Many also say its cabin is more luxurious as well.  Audi has increasingly earned a reputation for the most luxurious cabins in the auto industry, and this is the company's finest work.

Forbes says Audi's flagship sedan "blends superior comfort and performance with quiet elegance and a stately overall design." The 2009 Audi A8 comes in three trims: Quattro, extended-wheelbase Quattro L, and top-of-the-line W12. A powerful high-performance model based on this car, the Audi S8, is reviewed separately.

For 2009, the A8 receives only minor upgrades, including a standard power trunk opener and push-button power door closers. This is most likely the last year of the current version of the A8. Audi has not officially unveiled a 2010 A8, but the next version of Audi's most expensive sedan is expected to be a complete redesign of the car -- which could make this exceptional car more affordable as its replacement nears.

  • "Although it may lack the snob appeal of some of its fellow Germans, the 2009 Audi A8 gives up nothing when it comes to luxury, performance and craftsmanship. This full-size luxury sedan features an impeccably finished cabin, refined acceleration and polished road manners." -- Edmunds
  • "Audi's flagship A8 trumps rivals for interior decor, standard all-wheel drive, and, depending on model, base price. A8s can overwhelm with high technology, and the air suspension doesn't provide an ideal ride/handling balance. Still, these are formidable premium large sedans and worthy Recommended picks." -- Consumer Guide
  • "A thinking person's luxury car, more progressive, less traditional than a BMW or Mercedes. It's elegant but not arrogant, indulgent without being excessive." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "The A8 remains the German luxury sedan for drivers who want more all-weather sport than rolling boardroom." -- Motor Trend
  • "The Audi A8 L W12 rests in a premier echelon of cars that combine extreme luxury with exceptional driving performance, cars that make it difficult to decide whether you'd rather be reclining in the back seat while a chauffeur drives or up there where the action is, with your hands on the wheel." -- CNET
Review Last Updated: 3/9/10

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