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Shed Of The Week

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Friday 11th January 2013


SOTW: AUDI A8 2.8

Audi cleaned up at the What Car? awards this week but SOTW is the gong that outshines them all


What's the connection between Hollywood heart throbs Jason Statham and Robert de Niro, and PH editor Dan Trent?

The answer is that they've all been seen inside Audi A8s. Statham, Britain's answer to Vin Diesel and surely every bit as versatile an actor, drove a W12 in The Transporter. Bob de Niro was seen riding shotgun in an S8 in Ronin. And last Wednesday our very own DT was whisked away from a big London car awards dinner do in an Audi A8 press taxi, curled up in the foetal position after copping a piping-hot faceful of banter off Pub Landlord Al Murray.*

Low-light photos disguise this Shed's true hue
Low-light photos disguise this Shed's true hue
Pleasingly, the odd A8 has started to wander in front of the Shedman's crosshairs like a sleepy moose who hasn't read the open hunting season notices. This one was built four years into the first-gen A8 run, just before a midlife refresh that brought in a front-end restyle and kicked out the 3.7 V8 petrol option.

The 30-valve 2.8 V6 that propped up the A8 range may not be the most glamorous lump in the world, or even in the Audi catalogue, but it's pretty dependable and its 170hp should be more than enough for those of a wafting disposition. PH Essentials has it down for 10.1sec over the 0-62, but Shed reckons it's probably a second better than that.

The A8's key feature, its aluminium monocoque, is something of a double-edged sword. For the new A8 buyer, it meant an excellent power to weight ratio. At under 1,700kg, the basic first-series A8 was around 200kg lighter than the equivalent W140 Merc. Though a Seven would beat it on an A- or B-road, the Audi handled more nimbly than the bombastic Merc and had better body control than the rubbery Lexus LS.

All the toys and most should still work too
All the toys and most should still work too
For used A8 buyers, aluminium bodywork potentially means bigger shunt repair bills, but any Shedman worth his salt should be more than happy to motor on with a dented A8 as long as its structural integrity is uncompromised, because the A8 is classless class. You can drive them without shame or guilt. It is the epitome of low-ego luxury, a car with no 'side' or mental baggage. This particular one has history, and single custodianship for the past seven years.

Any electrically-complex luxury car carries an element of risk, as subsequent A8 models began to show, but the Mk1 2WD A8 seems to suffer from remarkably few problems. You might have the odd brake or ABS glitch, the odd window that fritzes out, or the odd heated steering wheel that might not work that well, or at all. There was a recall in 1999 for steering link components.

Classless luxury and waftability - a true SOTW!
Classless luxury and waftability - a true SOTW!
Generally speaking though the A8 has a fine reputation for engineered sturdiness. The shutlines on this one still look scalpel-sharp. Even with 150K up, it looks nicely poised for plenty more years yet. You'd certainly expect FWD models like this one to be cheaper to run than the Quattros, which have well documented transmission issues.

Because A8s needed to compete against BMW's 7 Series and the mighty S-Class, even poverty spec models came lavishly tooled up with cow, tree and power everything. The colour of our Shed may be an issue for some. The vendor goes to some pains to express the car's goldness, which is just as well because the smudgy pics might lead you to believe it's silver. It's not. It's gold, Gold, or indeed GOLD, which is very much like ordinary gold, only golder.

(*Though I have been seen in A8s for the sake of full disclosure this time it was actually an Espace! Still, why let the truth get in the way of an intro like that! - Ed.)


Here's the original ad...

AUDI A8 2.8 4DR AUTO (£995)
Gold.
GOLD Saloon. 2771 cc Petrol, Automatic. Gold, MOT-02-2013. Same Owner last 7 years, Service History, ABS, Adjustable seats, Air conditioning, Alloy wheels, Anti theft system, CD, Colour coding - Body, Cruise control, Electric mirrors, Electric windows, Foglights, Leather seats, Leather upholstery, Power assisted steering, Tinted glass. Very Nice Clean Example, Cherished Throughout its life, Part Exchange Clearance, Absolute Bargain, No Offers, Viewing By Appointment.