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First drive: W12 heads 2006 Audi A8 range

Loaded: 331kW A8 6.0 sedan blasts to 100km/h in just 5.2 seconds.

Audi’s new-look 2006 A8 sedan range gets a new $325,000 flagship - the 331kW 6.0 W12

4 Aug 2005

AUDI'S cracking 331kW 6.0-litre W12 has finally landed Down Under in the A8L 6.0 sedan - the most expensive Audi ever sold in Australia.

On sale from August as part of a facelifted A8 range, which - despite being its flagship - is the last core model to receive Audi's distinctive single-frame grille, the A8L 6.0 will be priced at $325,000.

While the W12 is available in 411kW twin-turbocharged form in Bentley's Continental GT coupe and the Flying Spur sedan (the related W8 engine has also seen duty in Passat courtesy of parent company Volkswagen itself), it's the first time the naturally-aspirated W12 has graced an Audi's engine bay in Australia.

Desperate to double sales in five years and to achieve similar sales as Australia's two most entrenched luxury marques, Audi will use the A8 W12 as major plank in raising the "other" German car-maker's brand awareness here.

Billed as the ultimate long-wheelbase luxury limousine, the aluminium-bodied, quattro all-wheel drive A8 6.0 produces 331kW at 6200rpm and a substantial 580Nm of torque from 4000rpm, and drives exclusively through a six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission.

Audi claims that's enough to haul the 1995kg A8 W12 to 100km/h in a sportscar-beating 5.2 seconds on its way to an electronically-limited top speed of 250km/h - a speed that takes around 30 seconds to achieve.

Differentiated by clear glass headlights that display the world's first use of LED daytime driving lights, as well as 19-inch 12-spoke alloy wheels and "6.0" rear badging, the A8L W12 gains other exclusive standard features like a remote control unit for the MMI infotainment system, adjustable (heated) rear seating with massage function, two in-car telephones, Alcantara roof lining and an extended leather interior.

The top-shelf A8 also employs optional equipment from the rest of the A8 range as standard, including adaptive cruise control, acoustic parking with optical display, a rear coolbox, soft-close doors, extended interior aluminium trim and tyre pressure monitoring.

Of course, the most expensive A8 delivers all of the features standard across the A8 range, including adaptive air suspension, an electromechanical parking brake, eight airbags, ESP stability control, active front head restraints, ABS, brake assist, rain-sensing wipers and Xenon Plus adaptive headlights.

7 center imageHowever, despite its $325,000 pricetag - which represents a $108,000 premium over the A8L 4.2 - even the A8 W12 lacks optional extras like Quattro GmbH 20-inch wheels, double-glazed windows, an electric solar sunroof, exterior lighting system, sports adaptive air suspension and comfort seats.

Audi Australia already hold three deposits from well-heeled A8 fans and hopes to sell up to 10 examples of the most luxurious Audi ever sold in Australia.

"The A8L W12 will be an exclusive car," said Audi Australia managing director Joerg Hofmann. "It is not a volume car, but rather an icon for the brand, driven by a handful of Australia's most discerning customers who can be assured that they are part of an intimate group of people who recognize its true nature and who have rewarded themselves in their purchase of such a spectacular vehicle.

"This is a vehicle that will appeal to Australia's opinion leaders. It carries all the hallmarks of the best car in the top-most market segment, and we firmly believe is is also the ultimate driver's car."The A8L 6.0 is part of a new-look A8 sedan range that goes on sale in August and includes a number of detail changes.

While the A8 range continues to include the 206kW 3.7 A8 and 246kW 4.2 A8 and A8L - each offering a six-speed auto and quattro AWD system as standard - new-for-2006 features include dynamically pivoting Xenon Plus adaptive headlights, Audi Parking System Plus (now including optical cabin display), a three-spoke multi-function leather-wrapped sports steering wheel with gearshift paddles and locking wheel bolts.

Finally, new alloy wheels are fitted across the 2006 A8 range, new paint colours include Phantom Black, Quartz Grey and Garnet Red, and the A8 4.2L, which boasts a 130mm-longer wheelbase, now comes standard with a 350-watt BOSE surround sound system, hands-free rear phone and twin illuminated rear vanity mirrors.

2006 A8 sedan pricing:

A8 3.7 V8 quattro Tiptronic $169,950
A8 4.2 V8 quattro Tiptronic $202,000
A8L 4.2 V8 quattro Tiptronic $217,100
A8L 6.0 W12 quattro Tiptronic $325,000

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