2009 Audi A8 Performance
This performance review was written when the 2009 Audi A8 was new.
The 2009 A8 features an electronically adjustable suspension, allowing drivers to adjust the balance between comfortable cruising and high-performance driving. According to most reviewers, all A8s offer impressive acceleration, but the more powerful engine of the W12 model is extraordinary. Above all, the A8 is known for confident handling and permanent Quattro all-wheel drive.
- The A8 "has raised the bar for performance...it rides like a luxury car, yet it's taut and handles like a sports sedan." -- New Car Test Drive
- "Refined acceleration and polished road manners. Audi's adaptive air suspension handles both freeway cruises and twisty back roads with aplomb, and unlike its main competitors, the A8 features standard all-wheel drive." -- Edmunds
- "The car handles superbly for its size, while pampering occupants with a very smooth ride. Innovative driving tech includes lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control." -- CNET
- "Sounds great, goes fast, and is terrifically entertaining when the pavement begins to curve." -- Automobile Magazine
Acceleration and Power
The Quattro and Quattro L editions of the A8 are powered by a 4.2-liter FSI engine that produces 350 horsepower at 6,800 rpm and 325 pound-feet of torque at 3,500 rpm. That's more than enough power to move the big car effectively in any situation. The W12 model, on the other hand, features a 12-cylinder engine that puts out 450 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 428 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. That version can travel from zero to 60 mph in a sports-car-like five seconds. The 2009 Audi A8 V8 has an Environmental Protection Agency-estimated fuel economy of 16 miles per gallon in the city and 23 on the highway.
- "The W12 engine in the 2008 Audi A8 L is kind of like two six cylinder engines set side-by-side and then mashed together. Each of the 12 cylinders gets 4 valves, making 48 valves in all. This is a complex piece of work. Each of those cylinders also displaces half a liter, making the engine six liters in all. The result is a very powerful but smooth engine." -- CNET
- "Feels strong at any speed. Some of our testers complain of overly sensitive low-speed throttle action." -- Consumer Guide
- The A8 "can be a thrill to drive...delivers powerful acceleration, but its power delivery is sophisticated, not crude." -- New Car Test Drive
- "Whether taking off from a stoplight or jetting up to cruising speed on the freeway, any version of the 2009 Audi A8 always puts a solid rush of power on tap." -- Edmunds
Handling and Braking
Audis are known for their cornering prowess and astonishing road grip, and as the company's showcase model, reviewers say the A8 doesn't disappoint. Its Audi Drive Select adjustable air suspension allows the driver to choose their own chassis settings. This allows comfortable cruising with appropriate softness, or aggressive cornering with rock-solid stability and almost no body lean. Standard Quattro all-wheel drive sets the car apart from its similarly-priced competitors - all four tires on the A8 maintain optimal grip in almost any condition. Brakes, reviewers say, are sharp and strong.
- Steering is "sharp and precise, providing excellent communication between the tires and the driver." -- New Car Test Drive
- "The standard Quattro all-wheel-drive system helps out the surprisingly good handling, keeping all four wheels gripping. Even more surprising was how flat it stayed in the corners." -- CNET
- Steering "allows you to precisely place the big A8 right between the fir trees at the edge of the road and the oncoming bread vans without making Mr. Baker-man cover his face and say his prayers when you zip through the gap." -- Edmunds
- The Quattro system "distributes power from front to rear and side to side, to afford both excellent dry-road handling abilities as well as added traction and control when the weather turns ugly."-- Forbes
- "AWD provides reassuring grip, but the available 19-inch tires do little to enhance control and balance vs. the 18s. Fast corners induce moderate body lean unless the driver selects the firmest suspension settings. Excellent braking control." -- Consumer Guide