Geneva Auto Show 2004: Audi A8 6.0 quattro Share Comments Audi is unveiling the new and most sporty version of its flagship model, the A8 6.0 quattro. This twelve-cylinder version with standard wheelbase, like the ultra-comfortable, dynamic long-wheelbase version before it, raises the stakes in the luxury car category even higher. The A8 6.0 quattro, a top athlete clad in the custom-made attire of a luxury saloon car, is now moving into the fast lane. With a displacement of six litres, twelve cylinders, 331 kW (450 bhp) and 580 Newton-metres of torque, it has all the vital ingredients of an out-and-out sprinter. The six speeds of the automatic transmission are much lower-geared than the A8 L 6.0, enabling the large-capacity engine to unleash its potential compellingly. The A8 6.0 quattro accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in just 5.1 seconds; the speedometer touches 200 km/h in a mere 16.9 seconds and reaches the electronically governed top speed of 250 km/h after less than 29 seconds. The most thrilling thing about it is just how spontaneously the six-litre engine translates every adjustment of the throttle into acceleration, and just how smoothly it can rev right up to the rated speed of 6,200 rpm if desired. At the same time more than 95 percent of the engine’s peak torque is available between 2,300 and 5,300 rpm – the ideal basis for spontaneous punch and supreme pulling power in every velocity range. The torque characteristic of this large-capacity naturally aspirated engine is utterly unequalled. In conjunction with the low weight of the aluminium body built using the Audi Space Frame ASF principle, the engine and transmission turn in an excellent performance coupled with exemplary economy. The design Even a first glance at the flowing outlines of the new Audi A8 clearly reveals the personality of this 5.06-metre long, 1.89-metre wide and 1.44-metre high saloon: a harmonious combination of clarity and sporting character, grace and elegance. The pronounced wedge shape of the new A8 6.0 quattro with low front end, a markedly short overhang and a high, powerful tail are the dominating features of its dynamic architecture. The crouched silhouette and the shoulder line rising sharply to the rear accentuate its sportiness. The A8 6.0 quattro is identifiable at first glance as the top model in the range. Its front end is distinguished by the new formal idiom of Audi design. Its central element is the striking single-frame radiator grille, the outer chrome ring of which surrounds the painted grey fins of the grille with horizontal chrome strips. The W12 badge serves as a visual indication of the engine’s high performance. The clear glass headlight covers visibly display the technology that they protect: the 12-cylinder A8 is the first car in the world to be equipped with LED daytime driving lights, the distinctive five lighting elements of which do more than merely add a new visual touch to the vehicle’s front end. This technology is revolutionary: the A8 6.0 quattro is the first vehicle in the world on which the use of daytime driving lights adds virtually nothing to fuel consumption – a clear safety advantage, as the car is more easily spotted whatever the light conditions. This advance has been made possible by the use of LED units, the energy consumption of which is only a fraction of that of conventional bulbs. When the low-beam headlights are switched on by the standard-fit light and rain sensor, the daytime driving lights remain on but are dimmed to the brightness of side lights. The LED daytime driving lights thus serve as a distinguishing feature both by day and by night. At the rear end, the trapezoidal exhaust tailpipes integrated into the bumper single out the A8 6.0 quattro as the new Audi flagship model. 19-inch wheels with a 12-spoke design constitute a further typical feature of the 12 cylinder A8 when viewed side-on. The wheelbase of the Audi A8 6.0 quattro is 2,944 mm. The driver-oriented overall design of the driving area that is a characteristic of all A8 versions is a notable feature of the interior. The central architectural features are the rising centre console – reminiscent of a sports car – incorporating the MMI terminal, with its retractable display in the instrument panel. The MMI and the absence of a conventional handbrake lever pave the way for the neat, expansive design of both the centre console and the instrument panel. The smooth transition between the instrument panel and the top shoulder is another feature that is typical of Audi. This line, structured by a two-section trim inlay, continues back into the rear compartment, creating a new ambience. Depending on the choice of materials, the interior can be given a particularly sporty flavour. One exclusive trait of the top version’s driving area is a horizontal aluminium strip running below the wooden inlay. Another equally visible feature of the 12-cylinder A8 is the new 3-spoke multifunction sports steering wheel with shift paddles. The new generation is distinguished by the visual reference to the single-frame trapezium with the four rings on the central airbag cover. Its oval exterior geometry is likewise a variation on the single-frame shape. There are perfectly contoured sports seats as standard for both the driver and the front passenger, providing outstanding lateral support when corners are taken swiftly and excellent seating comfort. The engine Here is an engine beyond compare: the twelve-cylinder engine in the form of a double “V” or “W” for the Audi A8 6.0 quattro is quite unparalleled by any other modern-day unit. The “W” design principle has one inestimable advantage: despite the larger number of cylinder units and a clearly higher displacement, the W12 is as compact as a V8 and thus has much smaller dimensions than a conventional V12 engine. The scope for pairing this engine with quattro four-wheel drive is based entirely on its unusually short length of 513 millimetres and its width of 690 millimetres. Other twelve-cylinder engines installed at the front of the car can only drive the rear wheels – in this case there is not enough space under the bonnet for additional front-wheel drive components. Another advantage of this compact design – together with the use of the light metals aluminium and magnesium – is the very low weight of the twelve-cylinder engine. And this in turn helps to produce an unbeatably low total vehicle weight of 1,960 kilograms, lighter than any of its competitors. One horsepower on the Audi A8 6.0 quattro has to accelerate just 4.35 kilograms – a figure that is on a par with a high-performance sports car. More power, low consumption The latest generation of the twelve-cylinder engine has been substantially uprated. Its extra 30 bhp compared with the previous model in the first-generation Audi A8 represent an increase of seven percent in its power output. It can call upon 560 Newton-metres of torque across a broad speed range from 2300 to 5300 rpm. This gain – along with the 20 Nm increase in peak torque to 580 Nm – is the outcome of painstaking improvements to many different areas. Another outcome of the engine’s enhanced efficiency is its fuel consumption of just 14.7 litres of Super Plus petrol per 100 km (overall value). Inimitable twelve-cylinder sound It goes without saying that a successful twelve-cylinder engine owes a great deal to its highly typical sound. This means an extremely low-vibration idle-speed quality that is also free from low-frequency components. Audi’s acoustics engineers have in addition composed an extremely sporty, powerful sound pattern, albeit with a touch of refinement, for when this engine is accelerating at full load. This unmistakable sound design combines the emotional and dynamic component with call for maximum refinement, which ultimately also determines the overall character of the 12-cylinder A8. Sports transmission ratios The ratios of the 6-speed tiptronic with Dynamic Shift Program DSP and auxiliary Sport program are in keeping with the sporty character of the A8 6.0 quattro. Thanks to the six-speed concept, the engine’s output and torque are always unleashed with such precision that spontaneous sprints are accomplished effortlessly in any speed range. The shorter final drive ratio compared with the long-wheelbase version clearly benefits this model’s dynamism. The A8 6.0 quattro reaches a speed of 200 km/h in 16.9 seconds. The sprint from 80 to 120 km/h that is so often needed for overtaking takes the “short” twelve-cylinder version precisely three seconds, in other words another 0.4 of a second faster than its equally powerful but more comfort-oriented brother. As an option, it is possible to change gear either using the selector lever in the tiptronic gate or via shift paddles mounted on the steering wheel. The ergonomic advantages of this concept have already been demonstrated on the Le Mans champion model, the Audi R8: drivers can also change gear when cornering, without having to take their hands off the steering wheel. quattro permanent four-wheel drive continues to lead the way in the luxury segment. It converts the engine’s performance with superb efficiency into propulsion and cornering stability, and puts the immense torque of this sporty saloon effortlessly to the road. The body: lightweight construction and agility The innovative aluminium body, based on a refined version of the Audi Space Frame ASF, provides the high-strength basis for low weight, a dynamic performance and excellent handling. The number of components on the fully enclosed ASF compared with the first A8 generation has been reduced considerably through the use of large functional castings and extruded sections. Static torsional rigidity has been increased by 60 percent and ensures a substantial improvement in vibrational comfort, safety and dynamic handling potential. The body shell weighs 50 percent less than a steel body: minimum mass combined with maximum stability. The suspension: more dynamism as the driver wishes The new Audi A8 6.0 quattro has an aluminium chassis concept that is typical for this car line and has been showered with praise by the trade press: four-link front suspension and self-tracking trapezoidal-link rear suspension. The standard adaptive air suspension sport system – an overtly sporty air suspension system with continuous damper control – has the right characteristic for every driving situation, reduces body movements with its continuously adjusted damping and thus optimises roadholding and comfort. There are four driving modes, to suit the driver’s preference for more comfort or more sportiness in any given situation. For more discussion on this story, click on the link to our discussion forums at the left.