2011 Audi A8 Interior
This interior review was written when the 2011 Audi A8 was new.
Reviewers generally impressed with the high-quality materials, passenger space and cutting edge cabin electronics inside the 2011 Audi A8. The standard seats are comfortable, but the optional front seats with ventilation and massage impress most test drivers. Like extended-wheelbase versions of the BMW 7-Series and Lexus LS, the A8 L is available with a host of backseat luxuries. These include reclining rear seats with footrests that can also offer massage, heat and ventilation.
Most versions of Audi’s MMI interface are similar to BMW’s iDrive or Mercedes’ COMAND – using a single knob to adjust vehicle settings, as well as climate, navigation and audio controls. These systems have become more user friendly in recent times, and Audi’s MMI generally garners good reviews. However, in the 2011 A8, MMI is even more intuitive. Audi has integrated a touchpad into MMI, and users can trace letters and numbers on its surface to navigate vehicle functions. Reviewers love this touch pad, saying that it’s easy to use while driving and also lets them avoid going through the MMI’s on-screen menus. On the downside, one reviewer thought that MMI integrated too many vehicle functions, while another noted that the navigation system lacked certain key features such as weather and gas price information.
Overall, the A8’s cabin makes an excellent impression on the automotive press, but there is one minor issue – trunk space. While the A8 offers more interior storage than most European rivals, it falls short with just 13.2 cubic feet in the trunk to stow your gear.
- "Like prior models, the new A8 is whisper-quiet except at full throttle, when the V8 rises only to a muted, rich-sounding growl. The available 20-inch high-performance tires drone on coarse pavement, but are far from loud. Wind noise is virtually nil even in fast highway cruising." -- Consumer Guide
- "The MMI is intuitive and good, to be sure, but there is just too much of it to deal with in one onboard computer." -- Edmunds
- "The A8’s cabin may be the segment’s new luxury standard as well, as beautifully finished as any competitor, but with leading ergonomics from its easy-to-use M.M.I. (for multimedia interface) and ancillary controls. No automaker does graphics and displays with such consistent elegance." -- New York Times
- "The A8's new interior is beautiful. My test car was upholstered in gorgeous black and coffee-brown leather, with sumptuous suede inserts in the door panels. The tiered and sculpted dash is not only functional but one of the best-looking around. I love the way various wood, aluminum, and leather design elements curve around the dash and continue along the doors." -- BusinessWeek
- "The A8's navigation system comes with the usual advanced features we would expect, such as text to speech and traffic avoidance. This latter feature did not always work optimally in our testing. In one instance, it advised us to get on the freeway into stop-and-go traffic rather than travel about four blocks on surface streets. Unlike some competitors, Audi has not added data sources such as weather or local gas prices." -- CNET
The comfortable seats and roomy accommodations inside the A8 earn high marks from almost all reviewers who’ve driven it. The standard leather front seats are comfortable, heated and 12-way power-adjustable, but most reviewers have driven an A8 with the optional Premium Package, which includes 22-way power-adjustable front seats that are heated, ventilated, and offer massage.
Heated rear seats are available in both models, but the A8 L is available with back seat options that really step up the luxury. Opting for the Rear Seat Comfort Package will add four-zone climate control and heated, reclining rear seats. But if you want to make the A8 truly decadent in the back, the Executive Rear Seating Package includes these features and also adds massage, a fixed center console, footrests and ventilated rear seats.
- "A8's redesign yields a slightly larger cabin with near stretch-out space in front, plus good headroom despite the standard tilt/slide sunroof. The driving position is easily tailored via a power tilt and telescopic steering wheel and ample seat-adjustment ranges. The seats themselves are well-shaped and supportive." -- Consumer Guide
- "The optional Comfort front seats offer especially vigorous massages six ways; the chairs’ 22-way adjustments include pneumatic side and thigh bolsters, a cushion extender and an upper backrest control." -- New York Times
- "The front seats are unusually comfortable and there's plenty of foot, knee, and head room in the rear seat." -- BusinessWeek
- "Even with the regular-length A8, there was enough backseat space for nearly all of our child-safety seats." -- Mother Proof
- "The back seats are of course roomy and are as luxurious as the fronts, qualities sure to be even more abundant in the forthcoming long-wheelbase A8L." -- Car and Driver
The A8 has been earning rave reviews for its sumptuous accommodations and cutting-edge interior tech. Driver’s can choose different colors for the ambient lighting, while interior panels are covered in premium wood, metal and suede. Another highlight is the optional 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, complete with tweeters that rise out of the dash. Not all reviewers have had a chance to sample this pricey, $6,300 option, but those that have say that it is among the best sounding stereos available in a super luxury car.
Audi’s MMI interface also earns praise from the automotive press. Most say that it’s easy to use, and they love the new touchpad. You can still use the MMI knob to make selections for audio, navigation and vehicle settings, but the touchpad offers even more ease of use – allowing you to write out destinations or audio settings with your finger. Lousy handwriting? Don’t worry. Most reviewers say that the touchpad can recognize even the worst chicken scratch.
While Audi’s MMI is vastly improved, one reviewer did note an electric glitch with the A8’s vehicle information display. Another commented that he felt that MMI absorbed too many of the A8’s functions. Still, most competitors have gone this route -- BMW’s iDrive and Mercedes-Benz’s COMAND are also one-stop shops that adjust most vehicle settings. If you’re on the lookout for a super luxury car that doesn’t integrate all of its functions into a single user interface, check out the Porsche Panamera or the Lexus LS, which both offer separate controls for audio, climate and vehicle functions.
- "Our test car's vehicle-information display disappeared from the gauge cluster one afternoon, but returned the next morning and gave no further trouble. Such glitches are not unknown in electronically complex premium cars, but we were still dismayed by this one." -- Consumer Guide
- "Ambient light, in a choice of three colors, spills over an optional Alcantara suede headliner worthy of a Bentley. On interior door panels, shapely awnings of wood and metal overhang a suede midsection so soft it might have come from skinned velveteen rabbits." -- New York Times
- "If luxury is your top priority, the Audi's interior, nice as it is, can't quite match that of a Mercedes. As I said above, the Mercedes S550 also feels quieter and more solidly made than the A8. However, the A8 comes close to a Mercedes in build quality and interior sumptuousness at a much lower price." -- BusinessWeek
- "Putting the navigation system into destination entry mode, we were able to bypass Audi's inefficient rotary alphanumeric input and trace letters on the touch pad. We found it very easy to keep our eyes on the road while entering letters and numbers, with the system offering verbal confirmation for each input." -- CNET
- "Gone are the days of endlessly twisting the MMI knob to input an address, find a phone contact, dial up an XM station or navigate a map on the flip-up, central-mounted display. The MMI Touch is hands-down the A8's killer app, and Audi's competitors better hope that the patent application has more holes than the Steelers' defense." -- Autoblog
Compared to most super luxury cars, the A8’s 13.2 cubic feet of trunk space comes up a little short. Athletic competitors like the BMW 7-Series and Porsche Panamera offer 14 and 15 cubic feet of cargo space, respectively. If you need even more room to stow your gear, look to the Lexus LS or the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, which offer 18 and 16.4 cubic feet of trunk space, in that order.
- "The trunk has a usefully cubic shape but unexceptional volume. The aperture is too small for bulky boxes. Old-fashioned sickle-shaped trunk lid hinges seem cheap at this price, but they're covered and don't intrude much. Typical of the class, the rear seats don't fold, and a trunk pass-through/ski sack costs extra. Above-par interior storage includes large bins and small covered cubbies in the doors, and a deep center-console box beneath twin height-adjustable armrests." -- Consumer Guide
- "The only packaging penalty is cargo space: when I popped the powered lid I was surprised at the modest trunk within. At 13.2 cubic feet, the A8’s trunk trails not only its main competitors, but is about 3 cubic feet shy of the smaller Audi A6 sedan." -- New York Times