Audi attains a weight savings of 50 percent by crafting the body of its A8L W12 from aluminum instead of steel. Then it adds a 450-hp V12 engine, which further complicates the auto’s anatomy. This high-line version of the A8 has all-wheel drive, and its adaptive air suspension system places sophisticated mechanisms at the sedan’s four corners to change its height and spring stiffness according to road conditions and driving style. Adaptive cruise control, a $2,100 option, relies on expensive sensors mounted in the car’s front end. Replacing them even after a minor head-on collision can cost a bundle.
Of all the cars here, Audi’s aluminum A8L is palpably the most sporting interpretation. From its flat ride to its meaty steering feel to its blipped-throttle downshifts in manumatic mode, the Audi is infused with a boldness that belies its stretched-limo appearance. Yet if you were picked up by your driver one evening, from the moment you ducked inside the leather-lined, wood-trimmed compartment and settled into one of the supportive seats, the experience would feel first-class. Click here to read more.. »