Audi A8 L TFSIe review: The best luxury plug-in hybrid?

Introduced in 1994, Audi’s A8 line was designed to be the automaker’s four-door, full-size luxury saloon. Now in its fourth iteration, the car still holds true to its identity; it’s one of the most expensive and premium cars in the manufacturer’s portfolio.

In late 2019, the German manufacturer announced the ’60 TFSIe’, a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) that not only aimed at lowering the vehicle’s tailpipe emissions but also looked to improve the car’s performance by adding a 100 kW motor onto the vehicle’s 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine. As a result, it’s got a whopping 330 kW (443 hp) of power as opposed to the 250 kW (335 hp) non-hybrid A8.

The saloon’s extra grunt is impressive, but the Audi A8 TFSIe, or its long-wheelbase variant, the A8 L TFSIe, are designed to be comfortable vehicles that ooze quality.

You can also watch the review of the Audi A8 L TFSIe on our YouTube channel.

Audi A8 L TFSIe price & competition

It’s no surprise to learn that the Audi A8 TFSIe starts from £84,195, while the long-wheelbase model starts from £88,195. A £12,000 premium over their non-hybrid siblings, respectively.

Here, the two TFSIe models are available in only one trim – Sport; whereas the regular A8s are available in four separate trims: Sport, S Line, Black Editon and Vorsprung. The PHEVs’ trim highlights include:

  • 245/45 R19 5-spoke cast alloy wheels
  • LED front and rear lights
  • MMI Navigation Plus and MMI Touch with Audi Virtual Cockpit
  • Power closing doors
  • Climate comfort seats in Valcona leather
  • Parking System Plus and Rear-view camera
  • Head-up Display

The same goes for the vehicle’s engine, which at the time of writing, is only available in a 3.0-litre V6 configuration that dispatches 330 kW (443 hp) of power.

As with any new vehicle, one can add a plethora of options. The one on review costs £95,575 on the road, as it has a few additions that we’ll talk about, further down this review.

Audi A8 TotallyEV

Buy a car phone mount on Amazon (Affiliate)

The most notable value is the A8 L TFSIe’s combined fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, which clocks in at 2.5-2.7 L/100km and 57-61 g/km, respectively. That’s far better than the claimed 5.8-11.1 L/100km and 152-254 g/km figure of the non-hybrid model. As you might expect, the TFSIe will help reduce your Benefit-in-Kind (BIK) tax contributions, if bought as a company car.

When it comes to competition, the Audi A8 L TFSIe has two main long-wheelbase rivals: the Mercedes-Benz S 560e L (350 kW / 470 hp) that starts from £97,560 and the BMW 745Le xDrive M Sport (290 kW / 394 hp) that can be found from £89,330.

Read next: Government car grant for electric cars: A complete guide on the PICG

Audi A8 L TFSIe exterior review

From the exterior, the Audi A8 L TFSIe reflects the car’s price tag. It’s a luxury saloon and with the long-wheelbase variant looks like a private limousine, in which any individual would be pleased to see pull up on their doorstep.

The luxury hybrid has a classic Audi design, where the car has an oversized front grille that’s much like marmite; has an understated side profile, which is bolstered by its 19″ 5-spoke cast alloy wheels; and at the rear, is both sporty and looks like an executive’s dream. It’s a shame, however, that Audi chose to include fake exhaust outlets.

To add an extra layer of class, you’ll find chrome dotted around the car’s exterior shell – from the front grille to the side skirts and window trim, to the rear boot lid. It’s all very classy. The Chrome Exterior Pack comes as standard in the TFSIe variant.

Onto the roof, our car didn’t come with a panoramic sunroof, but this can be added on as an option for £1,795. We’d suggest this if you want to bring more light into the cabin.

Read next: What is an EV? Everything you need to know about hybrid and electric vehicles

Audi A8 L TFSIe interior review

No matter what you make of the car’s exterior design, the interior design is quite spectacular.

The model on review has the Comfort and Sound Pack that adds the Bang & Olufsen sound system with 3D sound, 360° camera with top view and multi-coloured LEDs that stretch around the interior cabin – the latter option adds a touch of class in the evening. If you were to place an order in 2020, you’ll also get ‘Park Assist with Parking Aid Plus’ included within the £1,995 option.

Audi A8 cabin

There’s also the Rear Comfort Pack – a £2,195 option – that adds: Acoustic glazing; Rear footrests; Electrically adjustable rear seats; Power-assisted door closing and Matrix LED reading lights. If you were to add this option and had the intention to chauffeur individuals to different destinations you might be interested in adding the £495 ‘Privacy Glass’ option, too.

One could get lost in adding options, such as the Leather Pack and Alcantara headling but these aside, the interior is sublime. Starting at the front of the cabin, where one would sit in the driver’s seat, it quickly becomes apparent that this car is designed to make you feel like a VIP. Switch on the ignition from the Start/Stop button located by the centre console and the air vents will appear from under their respective flaps that reside around the car’s dashboard. Switch the climate controls off via the 8.6″ touchscreen display and they’ll conceal themselves, leaving you with a clean interior. A nice touch.

Audi A8 screens

Speaking of which, both the climate controls and the 10.1″ infotainment display that resides above it are touch-based screens. These displays both feature capacitive buttons that give off haptic feedback each time a virtual button is pressed. It’s ideal for browsing the car’s menu system but does make it cumbersome when you’re trying to get to the right temperature. We’d have preferred physical temperature knobs, but can understand why Audi has opted for a more modern take on climate controls, as after all, this is a tech-centric wagon.

Audi A8 screen dirt

This does present an issue, however, whereby both these displays attract a lot of fingerprints. If you’re going to be whizzing executives and VIPs around in this car, your best bet would be to purchase a microfibre cloth. Aside from the screens’ undesirable gathering of fingerprints, both displays provide a comprehensive set of menus and logical sub-menus that make adjusting the vehicle’s settings a breeze. It also helps that the MMI interface is extremely fluid, where there’s no visible delay when switching between options.

Route guidance can be accessed through this screen, where you’ll get online map updates and detailed route information. If, however, you’d prefer to use Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, you can do so by plugging in a compatible smartphone into one of the two USB sockets found within the storage compartment found under the two-pronged centre armrest.

Buy a car phone mount on Amazon (Affiliate)

Aside from plugging in your smartphone, which can be a squeeze if you own a larger-sized device (such as the Samsung Galaxy S10+), you can also wireless charge a phone, insert a SIM card or pop in an SD card for media playback.

To control your media, there’s a physical volume knob by the top of the centre console; you can also do it via the steering wheel or through the infotainment display. As for the centre console, Audi has designed this segment to perfection: two cup holder spaces are comprised under a flap, where you’ll also find a 12V socket; an ergonomic gear selector makes for a quick change of the drive modes; and an electronic parking brake and automatic sensor levers can be found here, too.

Audi A8 steering

The same sense of simplicity and practicality conveys to the Audi A8 L TFSIe’s steering wheel, which has instrument cluster controls on the left, media on the right and flappy paddles that give you manual control over the Tiptronic transmission.

Behind the steering wheel is a 12.3” high-resolution LCD display that not only appears to be bright under sunlight, but also provides tailored information to the driver. One can expand or minimise the virtual speedometer and power indicator, too. It’s even got the ability to display 3D maps, which makes navigation – if you use the built-in one – even easier to follow.

To make it even easier to follow a route, Audi has integrated a head-up display (HUD). Through this, you’ll find key information such as the road’s speed limit, enabled assisted systems and route guidance.

Elsewhere, the Audi A8 L TFSIe comes with a standard 10-speaker setup, which outputs 180 Watts of power. With the addition of the Bang & Olufsen system that’s found within the Comfort and Sound Pack, this takes the configuration up to 17 speakers, adds 3D sound and a subwoofer, which takes its total output to a whopping 730 Watts.

If you’d like to know how the system sounds, watch our dedicated review of the Bang & Olufsen system on YouTube or read about it on our website, here.

Audi A8 L TFSIe storage review

As for storage, there’s space to fit a 500ml bottle in each of the car’s doors, a small area for your sunglasses and smartphone by the centre console and 390 litres in the boot. The latter space will suffice for one large luggage and a carry-on – there’s also a separate bundled bag to store the car’s charging cables.

At the rear centre console, there’s also a small area to store a smartphone; two USB ports also provide passengers with the ability to charge their devices.

Read next: MG ZS EV Exclusive audio review: Impressive 3D surround sound

Audi A8 L TFSIe comfort review

With the addition of the Rear Comfort Pack comes footrests, which quite frankly, are a little flimsy. Additions aside, the rear seats are where you’ll want to be sitting, especially the seat that is positioned diagonally to the driver.

The seats, especially as they can be electronically adjusted via the Rear Comfort Pack, are supremely comfortable. It’s better than sitting in First Class and to a degree, a reclining sofa. The same could be said about the front seats, which as standard, are both electronically adjustable to your heart’s content.

Audi A8 seat comfort

Legroom is plentiful, especially for rear occupants in the long-wheelbase variant. Here, six-foot-tall individuals will almost be able to have their legs at full stretch; and with adjustable seats, headroom isn’t an issue for those who are even taller.

The cosy, adjustable seats aren’t even the star of the show, it’s the sheer quietness inside the cabin that’s a remarkable achievement. Through the use of acoustic double glazing, dampeners and even the engine’s casing, the cabin is serene, namely at the back where you’re positioned further away from the 3.0-litre petrol engine. To take it a step further, Audi has integrated soft door opening and closing mechanisms, which makes it extremely easy to close doors without having to create a clapping sound that resonates around the cabin.

There’s plenty of attention to detail: from the retractable rear centre console that reveals two cupholders, to the Matrix LED reading lights that allow for greater visibility for the rear passengers. There are even two large-sized Android-based tablets behind each of the front seats – these allow for entertainment to be played for the rear passengers. There’s also one more tablet at the back that comes fitted as standard. The removable 5.7″ OLED tablet provides various climate and seat controls, and the ability to control the rear blinds. It essentially allows rear occupants to control the car’s settings.

Read next: Extreme E: The electric off-road racing series

Audi A8 L TFSIe performance review

The Audi A8 L TFSIe’s interior is a masterpiece and integrates soft cushiony seats throughout the cabin. To bolster the car’s comfort, Audi integrates an adaptive air suspension system that can predict upcoming changes in the road through the use of clever technology. As a result, the car glides over speed bumps and potholes, making for an even better experience for those sitting or driving the luxury saloon.

Audi A8 tyres

To initiate the car’s soft suspension, you’ll want to be driving in Comfort mode, which can be toggled through the Drive Mode button located by the gear selector. While we anticipate most will opt for this mode, it does have its disadvantages: the car suffers from a body roll; the steering feels numb; and the car’s throttle response is a little lazy, especially when you put your foot down to the metal.

Now while this won’t trouble chauffeurs who will want to whisk their VIPs at a leisurely pace, it will upset those who want to feel a bit more connected with the road. Thankfully, Auto, Dynamic and Individual drive modes rectify the issue by providing a stiffer suspension and improve on the responsiveness of the steering wheel and throttle. Note: with Individual mode you can tailor the drive system, suspension and steering to your liking.

Audi A8 car settings drive

In Dynamic mode, the luxury, serene-looking Audi A8 L TFSIe comes to life; as if a beast has been summoned to your beckoning call. Here, the car uses the full 330 kW (443 hp) of power at its disposal to dispatch a snappy performance; 62mph from a standstill in 4.9 seconds with a combined 700 Nm of torque and a top speed capped at 155mph, the Audi A8 L TFSIe’s performance is quite remarkable for a car that weighs 2,405kg.

Buy a car phone mount on Amazon (Affiliate)

Its 3.0-litre V6 hybrid powertrain is not only powerful but also seamlessly integrates with its 100 kW (130 hp) electric motor, which means the switch between petrol and all-electric power is indistinguishable. Granted, with no exterior sound and the windows rolled down, you will be able to hear the petrol engine in the background, it’s not felt in the cabin.

Similarly, the car’s eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission is buttery smooth; if you’d prefer to be in control, you can whack the car in manual mode and flick through the gears via the flappy paddles or the gear selector.

Audi A8 gear selector

As for traction, you’ll struggle to get the large-size car slide sideways, as A8 L TFSIe features Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system. Of course, you can turn off traction control. Unlike the Audi S8, which features all-wheel steering, the A8 L TFSIe only has front-wheel steering. Despite that, the car’s turning circle is incredible and makes light work of tight angles.  The same could be said about manoeuvrability and parking, which are effortless with the help of 360° cameras, rearview cameras and an ergonomic gear selector, which makes three-point turns easy to execute.

When it comes to its eco-credentials, the ‘e’ in TFSIe signifies electrification. In a push to turn its fleet electric, more vehicles in the Volkswagen Group are integrating an electric portion into their portfolio. Here, the A8 L TFSIe has a small-sized 14kWh battery pack, which provides a mere 28 miles of all-electric driving range. In reality, it’s more like 24 miles in mixed driving conditions.

Audi A8 centre console

Read next: BMW X5 xDrive45e M Sport first drive: A 394hp plug-in hybrid SUV

The issue here is that the car’s battery gets eaten up pretty quickly, and with it, the car’s rapid performance gets affected. See, without the electrified portion of the car kicking into motion, you’ll be limited to using the 3.0-litre petrol engine, only. Now while this does dispatch 250 kW (335 hp) of power on its own, it does affect the car’s immediate responsiveness, whereby the car’s torque drops down to 500 Nm. It’s still extremely impressive, but not quite as remarkable as when the petrol and electric motor are working in tandem.

This also brings another issue to the table: pure electric driving range. As mentioned above, you’ll likely get 24 miles in mixed driving conditions; if you’re lucky you’ll get closer to Audi’s 28-mile claim. This means past this range, you’ll be emitting tailpipe emissions. Now while the A8 L TFSIe is classed as a Euro 6d-TEMP-EVAP-ISC car, it’s still not as green as we’d like. Given Audi’s pedigree in motorsport and even with their all-electric e-tron model, we expected a bit more from the German automaker.

On the plus side, its small-sized battery can be recharged in under 2h30mins using a 7kW charger, around 4hrs using a 3.7kW charger and in approximately 6h30mins using a 3-pin 2.3kW plug.

As for total driving range, expect around 450 miles combined with both petrol and electric modes combined. The former yields around 435 miles on a full tank, although, your mileage may vary depending on which driving mode you select and how often you make a quick getaway at the lights. We clocked an average of 60mpg in our mixed driving tests, which isn’t too bad for a car of its size, but far lower than Audi’s 100mpg claim.

When it comes to safety, there is a whole host of technologies built-in that make the car a safe environment. Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) cleverly picks up road signs and tells you when to lift off your foot from the accelerator; it also actively monitors cars in front of you. While active lane assist is pin-point accurate when driving on motorways and will smartly steer around bends at over 70mph, too.

Read next: Mini Electric audio review: An impressive audio system

TotallyEV’s verdict on the Audi A8 L TFSIe

The Audi A8 L TFSIe has only a handful of drawbacks, the biggest comes in form of its limited all-electric range that not only lets the car’s performance down but also lowers its eco-credentials. Rear boot space is somewhat limited for a vehicle of its size and the infotainment and climate displays are fingerprint magnets.

Audi A8 front

Otherwise, the A8 L TFSIe is a magnificent luxury hybrid, one of the best in its class. Performance, even without its electric motor in motion, is truly staggering, while the car’s exterior design is sporty yet classy, and let’s not forget its interior with all of its technologies built-in – it’s a serene masterpiece.

Frankly, what Audi has achieved here should be applauded. It’s just shy of TotallyEV’s Best Buy award. But, what do you make of the Audi A8 L TFSIe? Let us know in the comments below or via social media; we’re on: YouTubeInstagramFacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.