Premium large car; Built in Germany
  • 4-door sedan
  • 4-door sedan
  • longitudinal front-engine/all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $12,000 – $63,000*

2006 Audi A8

2005 Audi A8

2005 Audi A8

2006 Audi A8

2005 Audi A8

  • Acceleration
  • Handling/roadholding
  • Interior materials
  • Passenger room
  • Control layout

Audi’s complex MMI control system and adjustable air suspension needlessly complicate what is otherwise a world-class luxury car. MMI centralizes too many accessory functions into a single console control, and the air suspension can’t seem to deliver an optimal ride/handling balance. Still, with class-competitive performance and amenities, the A8 is a credible alternative to the BMW 7-Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Audi trails those brands for prestige, but the A8 trumps its European rivals for interior decor, standard AWD, and new-car base price, and is a formidable adversary to any competitor’s flagship sedan. Because resale value isn’t as strong as BMW or Mercedes, used-car buyers can find one that’s a little cheaper.


Audi redesigned its luxury flagship sedan for 2004, giving it more power and an adjustable suspension. The A8 L retained its aluminum-intensive construction, but now came in only one body length with a wheelbase 2.5 inches longer than the former “stretched” L version.

Exterior dimensions were virtually unaltered. Curb weight increased by 240 pounds, and styling changed subtly.

Inside, occupants had 1.5 inches less front head room, but about an inch more rear leg space. The A8’s engine was again a 4.2-liter V8, which gained 20 horsepower, rated at 330. A six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift gate and sport mode was the sole transmission. It replaced a five-speed automatic.

Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive remained standard. Replacing conventional steel springs was an air suspension with four driver-selectable settings: ride-oriented Comfort, self-adjusting Automatic, sporty Dynamic, and Lift for deep snow for unpaved surfaces.

Front and rear side airbags, front knee airbags, and curtain side airbags were standard. So were ABS, antiskid control, xenon headlights, and a navigation system. Among the options were heated front and rear seats (and steering wheel), front-seat massagers, and 18- and 19-inch wheels (versus standard 17s). Also available was cruise control designed to maintain a set distance from traffic ahead. Rivals include the Lexus LS 430 and Mercedes-Benz S-Class, along with Volkswagen’s short-lived Phaeton.

Yearly Updates

2005 A8
A short-wheelbase model, priced lower, joined the original A8 L for 2005. Measuring just over 5 inches shorter in both wheelbase and length, the regular-size A8 has less standard equipment. During the model year, a W12 version was added, on the A8 L’s body, with 19-inch wheels and a 450-horsepower engine. Standard on the W12 were an obstacle-detection system and keyless access, which were optional on other models. A DVD entertainment system also was standard, and exclusive to the W12.
2006 A8
Except for a revised grille, not much changed for 2006. A newly available Sport Package for the A8 and A8 L included a sport-tuned adaptive air suspension, steering-wheel gearshift paddles, and 19-inch tires.
2007 A8
Audi’s largest, most expensive car got more V8 power and gained a performance model for 2007. Added was the S8, a sporty regular-length model with a 450-hp V10.
2008 A8
The 2008 Audi A8 carried over with no major changes.
2009 A8
The 2009 Audi A8 was largely unchanged.
2010 A8
For 2010, the sporty S8 and ultra-luxury W12 models were discontinued. Nineteen-inch wheels were newly standard on all models. Ventilated and massaging front seats were newly standard on the A8 L.


longitudinal front-engine/all-wheel drive

From 2004-06, the base A8 held a 330-horsepower 4.2-liter V8 engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. That engine was boosted to 350 hp for 2007. Introduced for 2005, the A8 W12 got a 450-horsepower 6.0-liter 12-cylinder engine. Added for ’07, the S8 was a sporty regular-length model with a 450-hp V10. Both the W12 and S8 were dropped for 2010.

dohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.2/255
Engine HP 330-350
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 317
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed automatic



dohc V12
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 6.0/366
Engine HP 450
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 428
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed automatic


dohc V10
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.2/318
Engine HP 450
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 398
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed automatic


Road Test

Strong enough from any speed, an Audi A8 L accelerated to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds, just a bit short of Audi’s claim of 6.3-second 0-60 mph time. Some testers complained of overly sensitive throttle action coming away from a stop. Downshifts are slow in the transmission’s Drive position, but quicker in Sport, making the otherwise-effective manual-shift function almost redundant. However, Sport mode won’t shift into sixth gear on the highway.

A new test A8 L sedan averaged 15.9 to 16.2 mpg in mostly highway driving. Premium fuel is required.

Although the suspension is generally absorbent for a comfortable ride, 19-inch tires generate noticeable impact harshness. While stable at speed, large bumps can induce unsettling wallow in Comfort and Automatic modes. The A8 was not tested with standard 17-inch tires.

Body lean is noticeable in Automatic mode, and pronounced in Comfort, which is best reserved for flat interstate duty. Sporty Dynamic mode provides impressive control and little lean. Steering is firm and accurate, though a little light at lower speeds. Optional 19-inch tires do little to enhance control. Strong braking is a benefit.

An A8 is impressively quiet on almost all surfaces. Road noise is well muted in Comfort and Automatic settings, but more pronounced in Dynamic mode and with 19-inch wheels. Audi’s nearly silent engine emits sophisticated, muted growl in rapid acceleration. Wind is mostly a whisper.

Large gauges are clearly marked. Basic audio and all heating/ventilation controls employ traditional switchgear, but Audi apes BMW’s iDrive with its MMI system, which controls less frequently accessed functions with a single center-console knob whose positions display on a dashboard screen. Standard on all A8s, the system is fairly logical in operation, but forces multiple steps to accomplish what are usually simple tasks, thereby requiring a long look away from the road. The MMI/navigation-system screen retracts into the dashboard when not in use. Top-notch materials and restrained design give the A8 L’s interior a classic look that stands out in the class.

Front occupants get generous head and leg room on firm, roomy seats that provide excellent support. The split center console customizes armrest heights for driver and passenger. Outward visibility is obstructed by rear headrests and side roof pillars.

Back-seat space is ample for taller riders, even with front seats fully back. Contoured recesses in the roof liner provide good 6-footer head room, but make some passengers feel closed-in. As in front, large, wide door openings in extended-length sedans allow outstanding entry/exit.

Low liftover and a flat floor add to the large trunk’s utility. The power trunklid opens high enough to accept larger items. Interior storage is enhanced by pull-open portfolio-sized pockets on all doors.


Model Tested: 2005 Audi A8 L w/18-inch wheels

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 7
Fuel Economy - 4
Ride Quality - 8
Steering/Handling - 8
Quietness - 9


Controls/Materials - 6
Room/Comfort Front - 10
Room/Comfort Rear - 10
Cargo Room - 6


Value - 9

Total: 77


4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
115.9 198.9 74.6 56.9
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
17.6 23.8 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.3 38.0 41.4 37.6
4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
121.1 204.0 74.6 57.3
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
17.6 23.8 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.4 38.3 41.3 42.3
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Front Passenger Injury - N/A

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Air conditioner
Description: The air conditioning may not cool sufficiently and/or the outside temperature reading may be wrong due to a poor crimp connection or faulty outside temperature sensor. (2005)
Description: The ABS (anti-lock brakes) may activate unnecessarily under normal to light application due to cracks in tone wheels. (1996-05)
Engine noise
Description: Squealing and/or chirping from the serpentine drive belt caused by damaged upper idler pulley, which must be replaced. (2004)
Engine noise
Description: Poor 4.2L engine performance may be accompanied by a hissing sound caused by a vacuum leak at the intake manifold. This may require re-tightening the bolts, replacing the gasket or replacing the gasket along with applying sealer around the intake ports. (2004)
Steering problems
Description: The power steering may be noisy and feel like it is skipping and, if there are no leaks, the reservoir or pump may need to be replaced. (2004)
Suspension problems
Description: The automatic leveling system may quit working due to problems with the sensors, which may need to be replaced if they are not the latest version (having a black dot on them). (2004-05)

Recall History

2006 A8
Description: A wiring harness condition could inappropriately deactivate passenger-side front airbag, even though warning indicators are properly illuminated.
Description: Where a weak battery exists, it is possible that a low voltage condition could cause the air bag control unit to improperly set a fault code. If this occurs, the passenger side frontal air bag will become deactivated. Dealers will update the air bag control module software.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.