What is it?
Luxury cars might represent the pinnacle of what is possible on four wheels, but they’re often accompanied by less-than-pleasant running costs and significantly higher emissions than your regular run-of-the-mill car. It’s why companies - such as Audi with the latest A8 - are integrating plug-in powertrains into their tip-top luxury cars.
Here, we’re going to be taking a look at the updated A8 plug-in hybrid to see if it delivers a more efficient - but no less sumptuous - driving experience.
Audi first introduced the A8 back in 2017, so it’s high time that it was given a little nip and tuck. Now the A8 was a big success when it first hit the market - and has continued to be so up to this time - so you can understand why Audi has kept the revisions to this updated version relatively minimal.
So we’ve got a slightly revised exterior with an even bigger grille than before as well as more dynamic-looking lights.
What’s under the bonnet?
The A8 we’re looking at today is the plug-in hybrid which combines a 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine and an electric motor and battery for 456bhp. It’s the most powerful A8 underneath the tip-top S8, in fact. Zero to 60mph comes in just 4.7 seconds and it’ll manage 155mph flat out, too.
But thanks to a 14.4kWh battery, the A8 should be able to conduct up to 37 miles on electric power alone. Audi also claims up to 156.9mpg and CO2 emissions of 41g/km - though you’ll need to keep the battery topped up and travel on EV power for most of the time to see these consumption figures.
What’s it like to drive?
The A8 plug-in hybrid is packed with intelligent software designed to make it as efficient as possible. For instance, it uses satellite navigation data to work out where and when is best to use the electric power. It’ll even use regenerative braking when it detects a lower speed limit ahead of slower-moving cars - all without driver intervention.
Though there’s plenty of power on offer should you need it, the A8 actually inspires a more leisurely driving style which allows you to enjoy the excellent refinement and brilliant ride quality.
How does it look?
The A8 lives up to its flagship name through its imposing styling. It now has an even wider version of Audi’s Singleframe grille which gives the front end of the car a wide, aggressive stance. However, the really notable addition here is the lights.
This new A8 has digital OLED rear lights which feature customisable taillight signatures. There’s also a full-width light bar that spans the entire rear of the car and gives the A8 a particularly Tron-like appearance.
What’s it like inside?
One of the best places to experience the A8 is from the back seats. There’s loads of space back there, while the level of fit-and-finish is top-notch. Depending on specification, you can get massage seats in the back alongside a variety of touchscreens and even button-operated electric blinds.
There are plenty of high-end materials used throughout the cabin, too, with all of the displays and dials only adding to that premier feeling.
What’s the spec like?
As you might expect, the A8 comes with a huge amount of equipment as standard. There’s full leather upholstery, electric and heated front seats and a head-up display on the cards in entry-level Sport versions, while mid-range S line versions add 20-inch wheels and a sportier bodykit.
Top-rung Vorsprung cars benefit from pretty much every extra you could want, including a 17-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, the aforementioned LED lights and a panoramic sunroof.
The new Audi A8 plug-in hybrid is an example of electrification done right. The ability to run on electric power for a decent distance only adds to the A8’s refinement levels, while the level of performance on offer seems fitting for this type of car too.
In fact, the plug-in hybrid would be our choice over the standard diesel or petrol car given just how well rounded it is