By Peter Gilbert

Audi is hot, molten-lava hot. The company’s cars and SUVs are industry leaders in style, function and design. Audi is challenging—and beating—its German competitors Mercedes-Benz and BMW in comparison tests run by leading automobile magazines. The A8 is the company’s flagship. For skiers looking for the ultimate vehicle for an active luxury lifestyle, this car could be the one.

German car manufacturers have looked to other solutions for fuel economy than hybridization. While Japanese and North American companies have been pushing batteries, Germans have been touting the power of Rudolph Diesel’s invention. Engineered to run cleanly and smoothly, modern diesel engines are a far cry from the rattling oil-burners belching out clouds of black smoke of a decade ago.

The Audi A8 TDI combines the ne plus ultra luxury of the Audi line-topper with the efficiency of a turbocharged diesel engine. The result: jaw-dropping fuel efficiency, swaths of sumptuous leather, every electronic gadget known to man, and understated luxury.

Diesel Fuel Efficiency

While most people who can afford to buy an A8 could also afford the fuel for the traditional gas engine, the TDI diesel adds a measure of green to the package. This writer observed a stunning 5.6 L/100 km (42 U.S. MPG) in a week of mixed highway and city driving. That’s impressive for an econobox; unheard of for a rolling suite at the Ritz.

And while the TDI is only listed at 240 hp, it pumps out a prodigious 406 lb/ft of torque at a low 1750 rpm. All that torque moves the substantial A8 with alacrity. Smooth, silent warp-drive propulsion along with the adaptive suspension allows you to waft down the highway effortlessly. If you encounter back-country curves as you would in ski country, the A8’s suspension tightens and you carve them up like a you’re in a much smaller car.

For this efficiency you really only have to make one concession: finding diesel fuel on your travels. Not a huge ask for this level of fuel efficiency.

Comfort Features

Around this TDI engine there are a phalanx of features that have come to define the top luxury cars. Like the top view feature, that integrates four cameras mounted around the car to provide a bird’s eye view for manoeuvring in tight places. Or the comfort seats that can massage your pampered backside in a variety of ways, while being both heated and ventilated. Or laser-guided adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, adaptive air suspension, heated steering wheel, pleated leather seats, and hands-free trunk opening.

All this and Audi’s vaunted Quattro powertrain, providing full-time AWD. It has become the standard for the industry, and provides safety and security in the most adverse driving conditions.

Style and Grace

Audi’s quietly understated A8 exudes style, grace, and sophistication. Little does the casual observer know that it also bristles with cutting-edge technology and rivals hybrids for fuel economy.

All they see is an automotive version of a Saville Row suit: suave, sophisticated, capable.

No wonder Audi is hot — its A8 blends icy cool style and sleek Germanic design into a luxury car with unique attributes for skiers to enjoy year-round.


Peter Gilbert is a skier, a writer, and an auto enthusiast.