| I can't help slightly disturbing visions
of Cherie Blair yawning when I study this aggressive, yet in
a mildly cynical way, inspired air intake.
new corporate schnozzle or schonk, as Prince Phillip would have
it, has been greeted with mixed reactions.
colleague wrote that it reminded him too much of an inflatable sex
doll's mouth - complete with chrome lipstick.
have compared the deep tapering grille with Edvard Munch's Scream.
myself and I can't help slightly disturbing visions of Cherie Blair
yawning when I study this aggressive, yet in a mildly cynical way,
inspired air intake.
recent successes at Le Mans and other global prototype sports car
events, including the Daytona 24 hours and Sebring 12 hours with
the R8, Audi are getting in cahoots with their - and Auto Union's
- racing roots.
inspiration comes from the pre-war Auto Union rear-engined racer,
championed by the likes of Hans Stuck and Tazio Nuvolari.
Walter de Silva penned face first frightened autobahn users when
worn on the 6.0 W12 A8 but will soon become much more familiar across
the A6 range and, eventually, all Audis - like it or not - and I
therefore a teeny bit chagrined that the new Audi A8 3.0 TDI quattro
still (but not for too long) comes adorned with the familiar and
much less intimidating visage.
as disappointments go, that was that. Every
other aspect of this device charmed me.
no notable vorsprung on the style front but plenty in the technical
starters this large aluminium barge boasts a number of class leading
is, I'm told, the first and only luxury saloon car to achieve full
EU4 emissions regulations that are due to kick in in 2005.
is remarkable given the absence of a particulate filter and the
presence of automatic/tiptronic transmission and four wheel drive.
233ps and a tarmac rippling 332lb/ft of grunt at 1400 - 3250rpm,
this A8 has another boast up its elegant sleeve - it is the best
performing and most powerful production six-cylinder diesel in the
universe and has, at 130ps per tonne, the best power/weight ratio.
best and more bloody best then.
are an awful lot of swirl flaps, vermicular graphite and Piezo inline
injectors to write about when the full-blown road test hits these
pages, but my gob was gently smacked by the 'variable turbine blade
geometry' featured in the turbo itself.
fine-tunes their position with the help of an electric actuating
if I did understand all of that, I'm sure I'd still worry about
it all being an awful lot to go wrong.
said, I'm probably revealing my Doubting Thomas side.
knowledge, they say, is a dangerous thing. This is an Audi, which
means the clever turbo is unlikely to go tits up.
will the chain drive for the camshafts, nor the oil pump at the
transmission end of the engine.
fancy configuration - are you keeping up? - allows for a mighty
short and compact engine - just 44cm.
drive the balancer shaft, which keeps Rampant Rabbit style vibrations
to an almost unnoticeable minimum.
also drive the oil pump and camshafts, reducing the need for routine
maintenance dramatically, also they tell us.
| Chains drive the balancer shaft, which
keeps Rampant Rabbit style vibrations to an almost unnoticeable
know summit else?
two turbo inter coolers, sorry, 'air-to-air-charge-air-inter coolers'
are installed in parallel underneath the headlights 'to obtain the
best possible through-flow and to keep pressure losses and charge
(turbo) air temperatures to a minimum'.
vhere vould you stick your inter cooler, stupid Englander?
never seems wrong with Audis are interiors - and the A8 3.0 TDI
quattro takes matters another subtle step further.
plastics, leather and carpets give an airy and clean feel. Even
the woody bits are good by German standards, if no match for Jaguar's.
fruit reads like a what's what of kit, inside and out there's the
usual hidden gubbins - whoopie cushions and lots of letters off
the nursery wall - ABS, EBD (Electric Brake force Distribution),
ESP (Electric Stability Programme), and good old EDL (Electronic
heir or heiress will benefit from an ISOFIX child seat mounting
in the arse
with the Multimedia Interface (MMI) system but let me tell you,
it's far less of a pain in the arse than BMW's I-Drive contraption
which in the 7 Series even stumped Rear-End Hacker or REH as he
is known by those who have to go into the DC office de temps en
you get the vulgar urge to entertain your fellow grid lockees on
the M25 with some, ahem, garage music, the 9 speaker sound system
with 165 watts per channel should just do the trick.
standard trim this A8 oil sipper runs on attractive seven-spoke
alloys and phat 235/55 rubber.
all this up to Audi's natty air suspenders and the often comforting
presence of quattro four wheel drive and you get neutral steering
and flat secure cornering. Both are a match for prodigious performance
from this sophisticated and monastically quiet V6 diesel.
benchmark from a standstill to 62 (100kph) squirt is rattled off
in 7.8 seconds, with a top whack of 151mph on tap.
has an awful lot to recommend it, and for many the absence of screaming
Cherie's mouth will be seen as a bonus.
by Zog Ziegler
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expressing a personal opinion, not the views of BBC Gloucestershire.