Harnodi | 2011 Audi A8L W12 - First Drive Review | Most cars are made to be driven, of course, and there is a select group of vehicles that are made to be driven in the Rolls-Royce Phantom, the Maybach 62, the Ford Crown Victoria. But beyond that, there exists the infinitesimally small number of cars that have been engineered with both missions in mind, offering dynamic excellence for those twirling the steering wheel and five-star appointments for those occupying the rear seats. The 2011 Audi A8L W-12 is one such vehicle, and it satisfies in almost all aspects. Slide into the buttery-soft leather of the back seat, however, and the distinction between A8 and A8L is immediately clear.
All five inches of extra wheelbase were given to rear-seat occupants, and where the already-roomy A8 makes you feel comfortable and cosseted, the studio-apartment-sized rear cabin of the A8L makes you feel high and mighty. A panoramic glass roof adds to the expansive feel, and the A8L W-12 sports a pair of power-adjusting heated rear seats, split by a flowing center console that can be optionally equipped with a fold-out table and fridge. (The A8L 4.2 has a rear bench as standard, with the individual seats being an option.) The chairs can be further outfitted with ventilation and massage, and the final frontier for true titans of industry is the Relaxation seat. It’s a rear-passenger-side-only personal spa and business-class airplane seat all rolled into one, with heating, cooling, massage, and a power footrest the folds down from the back of the front passenger seat. Choosing this seat also adds a smorgasbord of rear-entertainment technology, including two 10.2-inch monitors mounted to the front seatbacks, Bluetooth headphones, a separate DVD drive, a pair of SD card slots, a TV tuner, and an additional MMI controller allowing access to navigation and media functions.
Additionally, W-12 customers get MMI Navigation Plus as standard it features a touchpad on the front center console that can decipher inputs drawn with a fingertip. There’s also a special Google search function for the navigation, as well as the A8L’s ability to be its own WiFi hotspot, turning the car into perhaps the world’s nicest mobile office. (The A8 and A8L go on sale here in November, but the WiFi connectivity won’t be available until sometime next year, after a wireless data provider has been chosen.)