I have to say that as much of an Audi fanatic as I am, I’ve become increasingly disillusioned with the brand. Perhaps it is their departure from their 1980s and 1990s “screw you, we’re going to build the car WE want to make rather than the car YOU want to buy” manufacturing, but the reality is that early model did not work for sales. Instead, Audi has been forced to go more mainstream in the U.S., and as a result I find myself paying significantly less attention to the new models. I used to wait with eager anticipation for the next upgrade, and I remember literally uttering “whoa” when I first heard about the C4 S6 Plus. Manufactured by quattro GmbH, the turned up V8 produced over 320 horsepower and was mated through a 6-speed manual to all four wheels. Of course, it was also available as an Avant, and so it pretty much made my day for the next decade. I still love the C4 S6 Plus more than any other period Audi, including the RS2.
So, you’d think I would have been ear to the rail when last year Audi launched a Plus version of the S8. But I completely missed it. I wasn’t paying attention. I mean, the regular S8 was already pretty bonkers and can outrun Audi’s own supercar R8. A 4,700 lb sedan is now capable of running 0-60 in under 4 seconds, unrestricted can push 190 mph – yet it’s not just brute force, as with giant tires and ceramic brakes they can out turn and out stop most great 1990s sports cars. So why did Audi need a Plus? There’s a market for these super-sedans, that’s why, and in the midst of the horsepower war between the four manufactures, the S8 Plus is Audi’s “Big Stick”. Horsepower is up 85 (!!!) to 605 and 0-60 crumbles in 3.3 seconds. Insanity? Well, better not look at the sticker price on these fully loaded missiles from Ingolstadt, then…
Through the 1980s, Audi was known for doing things a bit differently than everyone else. In the 90s, they struggled to redefine their imagine into a new, progressive lineup with the aluminum heavy A8 while still appealing to their target market with cars like the S4 and S6. But in the 2000s Audi underwent a major change; the acquisition of luxury brands into the VAG fold meant Audi moved in a new direction. Increasingly, it was the interiors of Audis that were making headlines. First, the TT did a retro-modern take on a sports coupe. But the real money was in the luxury car market, and with the D3 and C6, Audi narrowed the gap between the newcomers and the established luxury brands like Bentley and Mercedes-Benz. The cabin layouts grew increasingly tech-heavy, but also filled with supple leather and the dash had beautiful inlays of warm woods. Like a Scandinavian ski resort, they pampered their guests with modern designs in slick packaging. Move on to the D4 Audi, and the change in engine lineups in addition to the further revised cockpit meant you now had the setting and motivation to shock your Wall Street business partners. Today’s 4.0T, for example, comes stock with 414 horsepower and 443 lb.ft of torque – good enough to launch the Audi from 0-60 in under 5 seconds. Yes, you read that right. The massive bank vault-esque A8L will hustle from a standstill in 4.6 seconds. What’s perhaps more amazing about that is that within the A8 lineup, that’s actually third from the fastest model, with the massive W12 and S8 models both being a few ticks quicker. What an insane world we live in. Speaking of outrageous, massive luxury and speed cost, and when you consider this Audi Exclusive model, you’ve racked up charges close to $160,000 by the time you’ve signed on the dotted line….
One car that seems to have gone unnoticed in the Audi lineup in the last few years has been the top dog of the A8 range, the W12. I was surprised myself to go on the Audi USA site yesterday and see that they still offer this über saloon, as the V8 powered A8s and S8 surely get the job done in the power department. However, there is always going to be those customers who just want something over the top. In that case, this W12 for sale in California certainly fits the bill.
Engine: 6.3 liter W12
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Mileage: 18,712 mi
Price: $87,994 Buy It Now
2012 Audi A8L W12 6.3 LWB quattro
**CARFAX ONE OWNER**, Maintenance Records Available, and NON SMOKER VEHICLE! GPS Nav! All Wheel Drive! When was the last time you smiled as you turned the ignition key? Feel it again with this great 2012 Audi A8. This rare A8, with grippy AWD, will handle anything mother nature decides to throw at you during one of her bad days at work.
To be honest, I think the W12 powered A8 is one of those cars whose days are numbered. While fuel economy in big engines such as these has improved over the years, the power advantage over eight cylinder lumps isn’t as great as it used to be. Also, for those wanting 12 cylinder power, I’d have to assume they’d go to even higher end marques such as Rolls Royce and VW’s own Bentley, who use a variation of this engine in their lineup. This particular A8 has already lost a sizeable chunk of its original retail price and is sure to lose even more at a rapid rate, so only the well heeled who can afford massive depreciation need apply in this case. Still, it’s neat to marvel at this rare Audi, all the while thinking this may soon be a shining example of what once was.