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Burning rubber with Zog Ziegler
Audi A8
The Audi A8
Last updated: 25 November 2004 1210 GMT
lineBBC Gloucestershire's motoring guru Zog Ziegler is among the first to test drive the new Audi A8 3.0 TDI quattro.

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FACT SHEET

Audi A8 3.0 TDI quattro
Price; £47,380 OTR
Engine; 3.0 V6 Turbo Diesel
Max Power; 233ps
Max Torque; 332lb/ft
Combined consumption; 31.7mpg
0-62; 7.8 sec
Max Speed 151mph

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quoteI can't help slightly disturbing visions of Cherie Blair yawning when I study this aggressive, yet in a mildly cynical way, inspired air intake.quote
Zog Ziegler

Audi's new corporate schnozzle or schonk, as Prince Phillip would have it, has been greeted with mixed reactions.

One colleague wrote that it reminded him too much of an inflatable sex doll's mouth - complete with chrome lipstick.

Others have compared the deep tapering grille with Edvard Munch's Scream.

Disturbing visions

Cherie Blair grinning

Me, 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.

After 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.

The inspiration comes from the pre-war Auto Union rear-engined racer, championed by the likes of Hans Stuck and Tazio Nuvolari.

Autobahn

model sitting on bonnet of Audi A8

This 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 do!

I was 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.

And as disappointments go, that was that. Every other aspect of this device charmed me.

So, no notable vorsprung on the style front but plenty in the technical departments.

Large aluminium barge

For starters this large aluminium barge boasts a number of class leading statistics.

Schematic diagram of the Audi A8

It 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.

This is remarkable given the absence of a particulate filter and the presence of automatic/tiptronic transmission and four wheel drive.

Tarmac rippling

With 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, best and more bloody best then.

There 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.

Model standing next to Audi A8

This fine-tunes their position with the help of an electric actuating motor.

Even if I did understand all of that, I'm sure I'd still worry about it all being an awful lot to go wrong.

That said, I'm probably revealing my Doubting Thomas side.

A little knowledge, they say, is a dangerous thing. This is an Audi, which means the clever turbo is unlikely to go tits up.

Neither will the chain drive for the camshafts, nor the oil pump at the transmission end of the engine.

This fancy configuration - are you keeping up? - allows for a mighty short and compact engine - just 44cm.

Rampant Rabbit

Chains drive the balancer shaft, which keeps Rampant Rabbit style vibrations to an almost unnoticeable minimum.

Chains also drive the oil pump and camshafts, reducing the need for routine maintenance dramatically, also they tell us.

quoteChains drive the balancer shaft, which keeps Rampant Rabbit style vibrations to an almost unnoticeable minimum.quote
Zog Ziegler

Wanna know summit else?

The 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'.

Vell, vhere vould you stick your inter cooler, stupid Englander?

Subtle step

What never seems wrong with Audis are interiors - and the A8 3.0 TDI quattro takes matters another subtle step further.

Quality 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.

Standard 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 Diff Lock).

Your heir or heiress will benefit from an ISOFIX child seat mounting system.

Pain in the arse

I struggled 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 temps.

Audi A8 being assembled

Should 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.

In standard trim this A8 oil sipper runs on attractive seven-spoke alloys and phat 235/55 rubber.

V6 diesel

Marry 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.

The benchmark from a standstill to 62 (100kph) squirt is rattled off in 7.8 seconds, with a top whack of 151mph on tap.

It has an awful lot to recommend it, and for many the absence of screaming Cherie's mouth will be seen as a bonus.

Article by Zog Ziegler

This article contains user-generated content (ie external contribution) expressing a personal opinion, not the views of BBC Gloucestershire.

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