Despite its unrelenting rise in the early 2000s, diesel was never that desirable. For many, it was an answer to a cost-saving conundrum, while in luxury saloons like the Audi A8, it offered buyers an uninterrupted real-world range of more than 500 miles.
Our first taste of Audi’s latest limo came courtesy of the familiar TDI diesel, but as attitudes change, this 55 TFSI petrol is expected to prove increasingly popular. While it won’t offer the same hatchback-matching fuel economy, it takes refinement to a new level.
A level easily on par with the recently updated Mercedes S-Class, in fact. At idle, the V6 petrol engine is almost inaudible. It’s so quiet, you sometimes find yourself glancing at the rev counter just to check it’s on. It’s just as refined at motorway speeds, too, wafting along just as an A8 should.
Audi claims this petrol car will do 36.7mpg, compared to the diesel’s 50.4mpg, with less favourable CO2 emissions, as well. The TDI sits two Benefit in Kind (BiK) percentage points lower, too, despite the four per cent diesel surcharge.
The petrol car’s inferior torque figure (500Nm vs the TDI’s 600Nm) means it doesn’t feel as fast as the diesel, either. The power surge is effortless, however, thanks to the 48v hybrid tech, which helps the car build speed in a relaxed fashion. The brakes require some getting used to; the latest A8 won’t stop with the grace of an S-Class.
Our car’s 20-inch wheels gave the A8 a less desirable ride, too, but you’d struggle to call it uncomfortable. Smaller rims would better suit the car’s relaxed nature, but the standard-fit adaptive air suspension does a good job of ironing out the worst lumps and bumps.
The interior of our petrol test car is as glorious as ever. It represents the pinnacle of Audi craftsmanship, with the firm’s latest tech triumphs laid out logically in an innovative dual screen set-up. The touchscreens require a heavier hand than you’d expect, but you’re rewarded with useful haptic feedback with every press.