2015 Audi A8L Quattro tested by LCT Magazine.
The vast realm of luxury products retains its own class system, separated by perception as much as price. Premium luxury sedans are no different. Within the chauffeured transportation industry, Mercedes-Benz and BMW dominate the “upgrade” category at most limousine operations, a service and price notch above the domestic-branded fleet vehicles. A handful of companies offer the elite Bentleys and Rolls-Royces to ferry ultra-high-net-worth VIPs and clients.
What about a sedan class in-between the “upgrade” and the “ultra”?
Enter the Audi A8L 4.0T Quattro long-wheelbase sedan, priced slightly higher than the BMW 7-Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedans available to the limousine industry, but with a pinch of extras hinting at ultra-class experiences in life.
Audi devotes attention to precision on the A8L, with details that first eluded this reviewer. For example, the glove compartment contains a valet button that seals the trunk from the hands of a valet, which is why the trunk locked up on me the first day after I unknowingly hit it. A quick trip to the friendly local Audi dealer cleared that up. At first irritated, I now was impressed. I knew a luxury car maker that thinks of a valet button would know how to pamper the chauffeured client in the backseat.
A bold, striking addition to a chauffeured fleet that can cater to clients who want to stand out with style.
Among the features that puts Audi in a chauffeured class of its own: rear seat climate and position controls; Audi’s 3G data link for live updates and traffic notices; sync controls that seamlessly uploaded my iPhone’s content onto the onboard entertainment system; satellite-angled map view on the GPS; dual device chargers up front; front seat massagers that should be installed on the rear seats in a limo-version; window sunscreens; etc. That “etc.” is packed with other amenities, waiting for a client to discover. Audi’s interior menu enables a chauffeur to also serve as a concierge, catering to all client requests for technological convenience and climate comfort.
The rear seat amply fit my 6-foot plus frame with outstretched legs. Sitting up straight in the backseat with maximum lumbar support did not flatten my hairdo. I’ve run out of unique descriptions for a “smooth, quiet, comfortable ride,” so you’ll just have to take my used words for it. Wait, here goes: It’s not just a cabin, but a plush salon.
In the trunk, a vital component to chauffeured service, I saw my first ever four-corner, quad-buckled black fishnet covering to keep certain items strapped in place. This ensures luggage and contents don’t get tossed and rumble around in turns and sudden starts and stops. And who knows, maybe the fishnet can come in handy for a night clubber client in need of an enticing garment?
I spoke to one California operator who raved about the Audi A8L he ran in his fleet for four years. When it wasn’t doing runs, he’d snatch it for personal use — out of all the luxury vehicles in his large, varied fleet.
At prices that can nudge the $100,000 mark depending on options, the Audi A8L will need some, shall we say, “aspirational” ultra-clients to sustain its fleet economics. That’s possible since the A8L provides a distinct alternative for the atypical, discriminating chauffeured client who doesn’t want to be like everyone else. There’s an appeal to offering a not-too-common brand that strikes its own pose and knows how to stand gracefully apart from the typical fleet crowd. Now if I could just think of a word to describe the enchanted niche inhabited by the Audi A8L, somewhere between “upgrade” and “ultra.”
For added photos and details, check out the: LCT Audi A8L Photo Gallery
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