"This makes my apartment look like trash," I exclaimed during a recent massage. The muscles in both my back and feet were being kneaded, with heat being luxuriously applied to the surface of my skin.
I wasn't on holiday, nor at the incredible Thai massage place across the street that frequently takes care of my neck problems. I was in the back of the new Audi A8 Quattro with my legs propped up and the TV on. And I never wanted to leave.
Although I only spent a short period of time behind the wheel of the A8, it was an enjoyable experience. Even through the twists and turns of the Royal National park, it was a smooth ride. I did personally find it a little heavy in the rear at first, but that is to be expected from the badge. But if you're someone who is used to more compact or lighter cars, it may take you a little while to adjust.
What we really go to experience during our time with the A8 was the sheer luxury that it exudes. It truly brings the boardroom to the backseat with its wide range of comfort and inclusions that are designed for those who need to work on the road, or simply love life's creature comforts.
In fact, the vast majority of safety tech that's injected into the A8 comes as standard. This includes:
- Adaptive drive assist including adaptive cruise control with Stop&Go, distance indicator and lane guidance assist
- 360 degree cameras with 3D view
- Audi pre-sense front and rear
- Lane departure warning
- Lane changing warning including rear cross traffic assist
- Exit warning system
- Emergency assist
- Collision avoidance and turn assist
- Intersection assist
- Efficiency assist
- Heads-up display
10.1 and 8.6-inch touchscreens with haptic and acoustic feedback also come as standard, along with Audi's virtual cockpit, Audi Connect and DAB+ virtual radio, four USB ports, rear seat remote control, and a Bang & Olufsen 3D Sound System - which includes 17 speakers and a 730W output.
And while these are all cool features that we particularly appreciate due to focus on safety - they're to be expected in a luxury vehicle at a $210,000 price point. What really makes the Audi A8 special are the optional packages. They don't come cheap, but god damn they make you feel like an absolute baller.
Premium Plus Package ($11,000)
- 20" alloy wheels with 10-parallel spoke design
- Adaptive windscreen wipers
- Chrome exterior package
- Colour interior lighting package
- Control buttons with haptic feedback
- Digital TV reception
- Privacy glass
- Eletric sunblinds for rear window and soor seats
- Extended leather package
- Premium air quality with ionisation
- Seat ventilation and massage function in front seats
- Rear comfort head restraints
The premium plus additions are for the must part, subtle. But they do add a certain level of quality. While I personally don't care about the wheels, chrome exterior or extra leather - I am extremely here for blocking out the sun as much as possible, the massages and even the air quality.
And if you think the latter sounds particularly wanky, you'd be right... and I loved it. What isn't mentioned in the brochure is that you can also add either a summer or winter fragrance to your Superior Air. I opted for the summer scent in July because I play by my own rules.
But the real stand out here was the massage function in the driver's seat. I get quite bad knots across my upper back and neck because I'm a tech journalist with bad posture, and I assumed that the car's massage abilities would be gimmicky at best.
I was wrong.
In addition to having multiple modes to choose from, it can really get in there hard if you want it to. And I did. I didn't turn it off the entire time I drove, and I imagine it would be a permanent fixture for any road trip where you needed a bit of a relief.
I was also impressed by the digital TV inclusion, but not because I had any actual desire to watch free-to-air TV that wasn't MasterChef. Instead, I took note of the safety feature built into it — the TV image itself only appeared on the centre console while the car was stopped. For example — at a traffic light. When the car was in motion the screen switched off with only the audio playing.
Executive Package (18,500)
- Two rear contour comfort seats with 4-way lumbar support
- Relaxation seat functionality for rear seat on the passenger side
- Heated foot massage functionality for rear seat on the passenger side
- Rear foot rests
- Rear seat folding tables
- Extended centre console
- Seat ventilation and massage function for front and rear
- Heated multi function leather steering wheel with shift paddles
The absolute standouts here was everything into the backseat experience. It was incredible.
I have already waxed rhapsodic about the massage functions - so take that and add in a foot massage and I'm very ready to simply move into the back seat of this car. Granted that the $6650 Entertainment Package has been added of course, because you need that to access the rear seat entertainment system, which includes two tablets and, if you're so inclined, a 6-disc DVD changer.
But it isn't all about relaxation. As a tragic workaholic I love the idea of the rear-seat folding trays combined with the the car's 4G SIM so you can keep going on the move. If you aren't prone to car sickness, of course.
In fact, when we do a proper review of the A8 later in the year, we plan on putting these executive touches to the test. Can we run Gizmodo from the backseat of a luxury car? Stay tuned to find out.
Besides the sheer luxury that the vehicle has to offer, what we are most excited for is what the future will bring. The A8 is the first production in the world to developed with the capability for Level 3 autonomous driving in the future. Furthermore, the vehicle will include parking and garage pilot functionality at some point. No further details have been provided around when this may come into affect, or if it will simply be delivered through a firmware update.
And this is perhaps the only major letdown that I had with this first-drive experience. There is an abundance of promise from Audi about what the A8 will be able to do one day. But we just don't know when that will be.
The Audi A8 series is available in Australia now and this is the base pricing before on road costs, packages and luxury car tax:
- A8 50 TDI quattro tiptronic 210kW - $192,000
- A8 55 TFSI quattro tiptronic 250kW - $195,000
- A8 L 50 TDI quattro tiptronic 210kW - $207,000
- A8 L 55 TFSI quattro tiptronic 250kW - $210,000