Germany's past is steeped in war. And presently, it's witnessing another fierce battle between its flagship saloons — the BMW 7 Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class and the Audi A8. It's the latter, armed to the hilt and boasting a longer wheelbase, that looks ready to take the fight to its rivals. And it'll do so with a smaller, supercharged 3.0-litre V6 under the bonnet.
Mated to a smooth-shifting eight-speed tiptronic with paddle shifters on the steering wheel, this V6 is a surprisingly powerful unit. It produces 290 horses and 420Nm of torque while its top speed is limited to 250kph. The V6 is also as frugal as it is powerful, returning fuel efficiency figures of 9.3 litres-per-100km.
The A8 L glides along gracefully but for a more spirited ride, switch the drive select to dynamic and let the adaptive air suspension iron out the imperfections on the road. It's an absolute pleasure.
But it's 5,267mm long and weighs 1,995kg and despite responsive steering and impressive brakes, you still feel as if you're manoeuvring what essentially is a very large car.
The interior is nothing short of stunning. Crafted to perfection, it's swathed in yards of Valcona leather, wood trim from North America and lashings of Alcantara. Ingolstadt's reputation for building the king of cabins is in no danger of being toppled. Its MMI boasts a touch-sensitive control panel on the centre console which you can write on with your finger to control the sat-nav, phone functions and the radio. And, as we've come to know, the 3D sat-nav is first class. Then there's the 22-way power adjustable and massaging seats at the front and back. It's as if you have a live-in masseuse in the car. Rear seat passengers benefit from 130mm more legroom than the standard A8. Back there, you get a folding table, fridge, and an entertainment system with a 10.2in screen.
Slide open the two sunroofs and fill the cabin with light or alternatively, hit the switch and close the blinds on the rear and side windows and cocoon yourself from the outside world.
Driving the A8 L is like floating on a magic carpet. It's a Quattro and so grip is never an issue but I'd imagine the newly launched W12 will benefit more what with all that extra power to harness.
Audi has fired a salvo against its rivals here with this impressive 3.0-litre and the monstrous 6.0-litre.
Now it's up to BMW and Mercedes to respond in kind. What have you got?
Model Audi A8L
Engine 3.0-litre V6 TFSI
Transmission Eight-speed auto, AWD
Max power 290bhp @ 4,850rpm
Max torque 420Nm @ 2,500rpm
Top speed 250kph (limited)
Plus Luxurious interior, powerful engine
Minus Looks a little overweight