The roster of twelve-cylinder cars is exceedingly short, for no matter what benefits may exist, the smooth-running, powerful twelves are too pricey for anyone on a workman’s wages. But for those who have clawed their way to the top of the food chain, the cylinders come sweeter by the dozen.
Thus the $120,000 twelve-cylinder A8L 6.0 quattro, Audi’s ante into die Oberklasse of the automotive world. With 450 horsepower and a broad torque spread, Audi’s long wheelbase luxury car rips to 62 mph in 5.2 seconds. That’s performance car performance, well out of the ordinary for a luxury sedan.
The Audi twelve is anything but ordinary, however. Rather than the common arrangement of two rows of six cylinders, this twelve is in Audi’s uncommon W-12 configuration: two narrow angle V-3s joined at the crankshaft at a wider angle. It results in a very short engine, about the same length as a V-8.
An engine that short allows all-wheel drive with twelve cylinders. Other twelve-cylinder sedans can only have rear wheel drive. Audi’s Quattro system, standard on the A8 L twelve-cylinder, not only provides exceptional grip in low-traction conditions, it also aids handling by balancing the torque load on each tire.
A six-speed automatic transmission is standard and provides the correct engine speed for every driving need, optimizing acceleration and fuel economy. A Tiptronic mode also allows the driver to take command.
The A8 series, which also includes the V-8 powered A8L and the standard-wheelbase A8, benefits from Audi’s aluminum-intensive ASF space-frame construction and body panels, which allows these grand sedans to weigh in the same as many mid-size automobiles. Lower weight benefits just about every aspect of automotive performance, from acceleration to braking to cornering. The technically-advanced chassis is also strong and exceptionally rigid, improving comfort, handling and safety.
Speaking of safety, in addition to the usual gamut of air bags, the A8L 6.0 quattro introduces LED daytime running lights. Low beam illumination is automatically controlled by standard light and rain sensors.
The 121-inch wheelbase, plus a chassis design which allows the wheels to be pushed out to the corners, presents a rear seat fit for chauffeur-driven comfort. Standard seating includes electrically adjustability, plus optional massage function and climate control. The optional RSE rear seat entertainment system adds two LCD monitors in the back of the front seats headrests and a 6-disc DVD player in the trunk. Vehicle navigation can also be operated from the back seat, and a mobile phone/fax unit for the rear compartment is also available. Fold-out tables complete the rolling office. Or, for those who so wish, video games, video cameras or other outside input can be patched into the AV system.
For all this, the A8L 6.0 quattro bears no trace of a stodgy limousine. The lines are taut, the overhangs short, and a single-frame radiator grille strikes a formal-but-sporty air like a well-tailored tux. Not doubt there are dozens of reasons to like this car, but the first twelve just might be under the hood.