Audi A8 Saloon 1994-2002

Audi A8 Saloon 1994-2002

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016


  • Comfortable and luxurious
  • The V8 versions provide great dynamics
  • Rust-free and light aluminium body


  • Expensive repairs and maintenance
  • Expensive to run


The Audi A8 saloon is the first all-new, all-aluminium car that was the sign of Audi entering a new era. It's different from anything that Audi has done before. Officially, the A8 is a successor to the steel-frame based V8, which in effect was only an oversized Audi 100. It looks like the Audi engineers have had lots of fun while creating the A8, it's a harmonious car with new interesting features. For its debut year of 1994 it was quite a novel car that provided a luxurious feeling.

Exterior and Interior

The A8 was built on an entirely new aluminium space-frame, something similar to a monocoque body type with aluminium panels hung onto it. Not only is the A8 100% rust-free, it is also much lighter than other large luxury cars. It is a respectable and good looking car. Although the dark green and aluminium-silver were the most popular body colour options, it was possible to order an A8 in a range of crazy colours, including bright yellow and blue. The interior is what you expect from a luxury car, it's tasteful and finished to a high standard. It has five very comfortable seats and an impressive boot compartments that's slightly larger than its main competitor, the Mercedes S-Class.

Performance and Economy

When the A8 was launched the entry level V6 engine was definitely too weak for the size of the car. Although the basic A8 was competitive price-wise, it didn't offer agility comparable to BMW 7 Series and Mercedes Benz S-Class. That's why many customers had to choose one of the V8 options. Under the pressure from its dealers, the Audi engineers improved the V6 engine by adding the 5th valve and increasing the power output to 193bhp. Nippier V6s have been available since January 1996, it's a good idea to avoid a pre-1996 V6. The 4.2-litre V8 gives the car a lot of character. In fact, it's more dynamic than its arch-rival the BMW 740. The steely BMW is good 700lbs heavier than the A8 and its engine is also bigger and heavier while providing just 286bhp. The A8 is quicker to accelerate, but we're not sure about the top speed because it was electronically limited to 155mph on both cars. The character it provides comes at a price, the car cannot do any better than 21mpg. The V6 manages 26mpg, which, depending on how you go about it, isn't such a big difference. So, regardless of the 1996 improvements, the bigger V8 remained the best selling modification of the A8.

Like to Drive

The A8 is great to drive. It is a very big car, but thanks to its aluminium construction, it is a lightweight vehicle and it tells the moment you put your foot down. The car is keen to accelerate and thanks to its advanced suspension, it is smooth on almost any surface. The four wheel drives version, traditionally called the Quattro, is even nicer to drive. It adds more traction and improves the handling, especially in wet conditions. The A8 provides luxury to a car which it then combines perfectly with a sporty character.

Faults and Repairs

A luxury car made by Audi was a new idea and because of the lack of tradition, the cars depreciated quickly in the used car market. Although they sold well as new, it was a challenge to move a used Audi A8 saloon, although this may also have been due to the heavy running costs. It's good news if you're looking for a very affordable luxury car because you should be able to get one at a very acceptable price. The bad news is that the A8 is a very sophisticated car and repair costs are high. Its high-spec engines require extra attention and the best maintenance that you can give it. The automatic gearbox is the most expensive part on your A8 and should something goes wrong, it will be extremely difficult and expensive to fix.