By Samuel Ee
Good torque won't be hard to find once the diesel tax is cut in January 2013. More turbodiesel versions of luxury models should be available after the Special Tax for Euro V compliant cars falls from $1.25 per cc to 40 cents per cc.
One of them is already here - the Audi A8L 4.2 TDI quattro. The long-wheelbase A8 combines spacious luxury with the diesel engine's well-known strengths of low fuel consumption and excellent low-end torque. Its 4.2-litre V8 turbodiesel has a whopping 800 Newton metres of torque - the highest for an Audi engine available here.
On paper, the maximum torque figure is impressive. On the road, it is phenomenal.
Available from just 1,750 rpm, the stonking torque is delivered lag-free. The big A8 may weigh in at about 2.1 tonnes but it accelerates like a very hot hatch.
Floor the gas pedal and it takes off with back-thumping alacrity, with the superb elasticity translating to awesome overtaking prowess.
While it can sound a bit scary for something so big to be so fast, this combination of size and speed is managed by quattro all-wheel-drive. Quattro also makes the A8 fun to drive. Rolling on massive 21-inch five-arm "Rotor design" wheels, its grip is nothing short of staggering, with adaptive air suspension to tweak handling levels. Only the heavy and somewhat inert steering prevents it from being more agile.
But the overall driving experience is still enjoyable, with one reason being that the eight-cylinder turbodiesel does not emit the usual clatter associated with noisy diesel engines. This is because Audi uses special piezo electric injectors, which deliver the precise amount of fuel to smoothen out the engine's combustion process. With lower combustion noise, the TDI engine sounds almost like a petrol unit.
Then there is the green advantage. Diesel units not only consume less fuel than petrol engines, but thanks to technological advances, the latest generation of "clean diesel" engines also boast ultra-low emissions. Audi's clean diesel exhaust system uses a urea-based solution to "scrub" exhaust gases, removing 90 per cent of the nitrogen oxides and 20 per cent of carbon emissions.
But best of all, this is the flagship Audi saloon, at 5.3 metres long with a 3,122 mm wheelbase.
Front and rear massage seats are standard equipment. Rear legroom will satisfy an NBA player, with a double sunroof and a rear seat entertainment package that includes individual monitors.
As with all high-end Audis, there is also an amazing range of options for further customisation.
|Audi A8L 4.2 TDI quattro
|Price: $407,000 (with COE)
Engine: 4,134cc V8 turbodiesel
Transmission: Eight-speed tiptronic auto transmission
Max Power: 350bhp @ 4,000rpm
Max Torque: 800Nm @ 1,750-2,750rpm
0-100kmh: 5.6 secs
Fuel consumption: 7.5l/100km (combined)
Top speed: 250kmh
CO2 emissions: 162g/km
Distributor: Premium Automobiles
Tel: 6566 1111
Some are driver assistant features, such as the $9,080 Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go function, and the $5,902 Audi lane assist and side assist, while others are more sybaritic, such as the $3,587 individual reclining rear seats, $13,166 exclusive paintwork, and the bespoke Audi design interior option, which combines Valcona leather with wood and metallic inlays.
The Audi brand is slowly but steadily infusing each new model with more character and even more driving enjoyment. This A8L turbodiesel is no different. For now, this top-tier model is available only on an indent basis. But come January, it could be a different story.
This article was first published in The Business Times.