2012 Audi A8 Performance

$21,998 - $34,406

2012 Audi A8 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Audi A8 was new.


Performance: 8.9

Although slightly underpowered compared with other V8 super luxury cars, most reviewers think that the 2012 Audi A8 is quick enough, thanks to its lighter weight and excellent eight-speed transmission. Test drivers say the A8 also benefits from composed handling, thanks to Audi’s adjustable air suspension. The A8 strikes the middle ground with ride quality that’s sportier than the Lexus LS, but not as firm as the BMW 7-Series.

  • "Light, accurate steering makes it easy to place." -- Car and Driver 
  • "With its rearward-biased all-wheel drive, automatic air suspension and crisp steering response, the A8 handles like a smaller, lighter sport sedan. Yet over broken pavement the Audi flagship delivers a compliant, composed ride fully in keeping with its luxury sedan status." -- Edmunds 
  • "The combination makes the A8 a very responsive car -- Audi claims a 0-to-62 mph time of 5.7 seconds -- it's just not quite as quick as the eight-cylinder BMW 7-series, Mercedes-Benz S-class, or Lexus LS460." -- Automobile Magazine 
  • "The new ‘Dynamic’ steering system is responsive and quick, helping the car exhibit excellent turn-in and feel much smaller than its 202-in. overall length would indicate." -- Road and Track 
  • "We were astounded by the handling, given the size of the car, and its 27 mpg highway rating. Audi takes advantage of a number of technologies, including the latest version of its all-wheel-drive system, to make it slip neatly through the curves at speed. The eight-gear transmission helps keep engine speed down on the freeway, saving considerable fuel." -- CNET

Acceleration and Power 

Compared with other V8-powered super luxury cars, the 2012 Audi A8’s 372-horsepower, 4.2-liter V8 is a little short on power. Some reviewers think this is a problem, while others rave that the excellent eight-speed transmission, light weight and Quattro all-wheel drive help the A8 accelerate quickly enough to remain competitive.

Test drivers also say that the A8’s all-wheel drive system provides an impressive level of traction. The system generally puts 60 percent of the power to the rear wheels and the remaining 40 percent to the front, but can transfer power in either direction to improve traction.

If you want more power, Audi has added an optional 500-horsepower, 6.3-liter W12 engine to the 2012 A8 L’s option list. Like the V8 model, A8s with the W12 get quattro and an eight-speed automatic transmission.

According to the EPA, the 2012 A8 and A8 L get 18/28 mpg city/highway fuel economy with the V8, which is very good when compared with other super luxury cars. The W12-powered A8 L uses considerably more fuel, with EPA estimates of 14 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway.

  • "The V-8 is powerful, the W-12 even more so, and they both sound wonderful." -- Car and Driver 
  • "Whether taking off from a stoplight or jetting up to cruising speed on the freeway, the 2012 Audi A8 always keeps a solid rush of power on tap." -- Edmunds 
  • "The combination of the lightweight aluminum space-frame chassis and the 372 horsepower, 4.2-liter direct injection V8 means the A8 is on par with its peers, but the addition of Audi's rear-biased Quattro all-wheel-drive puts it into new territory." -- Autoblog
  • "Our test car felt that quick--abetted by AWD traction--and had strong mid-range passing power." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The A8's new transmission, on the other hand, is one of the smoothest on the market: a high-tech eight-speed automatic with a manual shifting function and steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters." -- BusinessWeek 
  • "We have few criticisms about the A8, but sacrificing a little horsepower in favor of torque would make it move a little more adroitly in low-speed city maneuvering. As it was, the A8 is more likely to leap from a stop than roll forward in stately luxury." -- CNET

Handling and Braking

Most reviewers are impressed with the 2012 Audi A8’s adjustable air suspension, which allows the driver to choose between Comfort and Dynamic (sport) driving modes, or an Automatic mode that’s the middle ground between the two. Still, one test driver said he preferred the firmer suspension of rival cars made by Porsche and BMW, while another thought that the A8’s brake pedal felt mushy at first. The A8 did, however, perform exceptionally well in one reviewer’s brake tests.

Audi’s Drive Select system also adjusts steering feel with the suspension – select Comfort mode and steering is light, but if you put the car in Dynamic mode the steering gets heavier for a sporty feel.

  • "Feels more agile than the rest of the segment." -- Car and Driver 
  • "The powerful and easily modulated brakes have no problem reining in this luxury liner." -- Edmunds
  • "Comfortably controlled and absorbent on most surfaces regardless of Drive Select mode and despite the test car's optional 20-inch wheels. The Dynamic setting gives a noticeably firmer feel and lets sharp bumps register more clearly, though without jolting. Comfort mode furnishes a plusher ride, but with a hint of float over large humps and dips. Automatic splits these differences." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "I prefer the stiffer suspension, heavier steering feel, and general sportiness of the BMW and Porsche. But if a luxurious ride is what you want, the A8 rivals the Mercedes S550, though it doesn't feel quite as solid and sound-deadened as the Mercedes." -- BusinessWeek 
  • "Piloting the big A8 around the city, we left it in Comfort mode, where the adaptive suspension did an excellent job absorbing the bumps without letting the driving experience feel sloppy." -- CNET 
  • "Audi's chassis and powertrain boffins have focused on making this big boy dance. And it does. You wouldn't think that something this large and this lux could be this quick on its feet, responding to steering inputs with immediacy and selecting the perfect of its eight ratios to put the power down, but it does." -- Autoblog 

Find the Best Price

Enter your zip code to get local pricing.

Get Dealer Quotes

To get dealer quotes, enter your zip code.

Search Used Listings

To search used listings, enter your zip code.

Change Location

Enter your zip code to see listings near you.

Please enter a valid zipcode

Best Price Program

Interested in a New?

Use the U.S. News Best Price Program to find great deals and get upfront pricing on the.