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Audi A8: Buying guide and review (1994-2002)

Audi A8: Buying guide and review (1994-2002) Classic and Performance Car
Audi A8 Audi A8 Audi A8 Audi A8 Audi A8 Audi A8
It’s hard to believe, but Audi’s range topping A8 has been with us for 22 years now. A development of the Audi V8, the company’s first ever top-line luxury car, the A8 introduced some cutting edge new technologies such as an all-aluminium construction along with Quattro four-wheel drive, in an attempt to challenge the dominant Teutonic duo. 

The Audi Space Frame concept car of 1993 demonstrated the new weight saving techniques that the new A8 would employ and it was the lightest in its class when it launched the following year. An electronic stability program introduced in 1997 was a world first for an all-wheel drive car as were the front and rear side airbags.

In its third generation now, the large Audi has carved itself a niche in this tough class and competes head-to-head with the best cars in its class. We will be looking at the first generation cars and seeing how viable they are as used purchases and whether all that innovation and advanced '90s design has stood the test of time.

Which Audi A8 to buy?

The A8 may have an all-aluminium design but at close to two tonnes it is still a heavy car, so the smaller engined variants have their work cut out for them. The first 174bhp 12 valve 2.8s are rare these days, but it is worth opting for the later 193bhp 2.8. Ideally, you’ll be able to opt for the beefier 3.7 and 4.2-litre V8s. Quattro all-wheel drive was standard on the range topping 4.2l cars from the outset and was phased in to the rest of the range over the years. It can aid traction in slippery conditions however cars with Quattro do carry a weight penalty over the front wheel drive cars.

Handling was commendable for such a large luxury car and matched up well to its opposition however the ride was criticised for being a bit hard, especially when specified with sport suspension. Gearbox options range from 5 and 6 speed manuals to 4 and 5 speed automatics, the tiptronic autos were a good match for the large Audi’s character and most are so equipped. The 340bhp S8 was introduced in 1997 and with its Quattro drivetrain, 6 speed manual gearbox and sporty suspension settings was a unique offering in its class. These cars are rare but not as rare as the 420bhp W12 6.0l. The W12 was sold in very limited numbers and mostly to Asian customers so finding one will be tricky. The 2.5l diesel variants also did not make it to the UK. Values for most models are as low as they are likely to get but running costs can be a lot more affordable on the 2.8l cars so bear this in mind. 

Interior space was more than generous, even more so in the LWB 4.2l models which became available from 1999 on. Specification levels were high across the range with climate control, heated seats and electric everything as standard. For our money, one of the later V8 models is the one to go for, smooth and refined they offer strong performance for comparatively very little money. High mileages are not a concern but many owners and patchy service histories can mean big bills in the future. 

Performance and specs

Audi A8 4.2 Quattro
Engine 4172cc 24 valve DOHC V8 
Power 300bhp @ 6000rpm 
Torque 295lb ft torque @ 2300rpm
Top speed 155mph (limited)
0-62mph 7.4 seconds 
Fuel consumption 20 mpg
Gearbox Four-speed automatic/five-speed automatic

Dimensions and weight

Wheelbase 2880mm
Length 5034mm
Width 1880mm
Height 1436mm
Weight 1750kg

Common problems

• Aluminium body panels mean that it is easy to dent and this can be expensive to repair so ensure that the bodywork is in very good condition. Minor damage and scratches can be repaired at most Audi approved workshops however larger damage will require specialist attention.

• High mileages are common on these cars and should not be an issue as overall reliability is good. Evidence of regular servicing is important though.

• Parts are still widely available however as the A8 was a range topping vehicle and build numbers were relatively small, prices can be high for model specific items.

• Suspensions generally provide a hard ride in true Audi tradition however replacement dampers and suspension rubbers can help matters considerably.

• Some early cars suffered from ECU and tiptronic gearbox issues so check if the car you are considering has had any work carried out in the service records.

Model history

1994: All aluminium Audi A8 debuts with Quattro drivetrain and 300bhp 4.2 litre V8 with a four-speed automatic transmission as standard. 174bhp 2.8-litre V6 introduced, featuring front wheel drive and the option of manual or automatic transmissions
1995: 230bhp 3.7-litre V8 front-wheel drive model introduced
1996: 2.8-litre models receive multivalve heads and a power increase to 193bhp
1997: S8 Quattro introduced with 340bhp and six-speed manual gearbox
1998: Tiptronic gearbox made available on S8
1999: Minor update introduced with revised front end, suspension changes and interior upgrades. S8 gets power hike to 360bhp. 3.7-litre models now come with four-wheel drive. Long wheelbase variants become available in 4.2-litre form
2000: W12 engined A8 introduced featuring 420bhp. Grille and headlights are redesigned and 3.7-litre model is dropped from the range
2001: 2.8-litre models now also sold with four-wheel drive
2002: Final first-generation A8 sold, with over 100,000 units produced

Owners clubs, forums and websites

• www.a8oc.net A8 owners club
• www.audi-owners-club.co.ukOwners club for all Audi models
• www.unit20.orgAudi specialists

Summary and prices

If you are in the market for a cheap luxury car, then the A8 is a fantastic and almost unbeatable option. Audi’s evolutionary design philosophy means that this first-generation A8 still looks the part too. Value for money is the overriding factor here, as most models can be found for well under £3000. Some high-mileage V6 and 3.7-litre V8s can be found for under £1000, however you should be careful of expensive mechanical issues. Cat C and Cat D cars can be very tempting thanks to their bargain basement prices, but it is imperative that all bodywork repairs have been carried out by reputable Audi specialists as issues here are very expensive to rectify. 
The rare S8’s are closer to £5000, with the odd low mileage mint condition examples trading for £15,000. Limited availability means that you cannot be too picky but as long as you make sure that the car has a verifiable service history and have factored in running expenses, the first generation A8 can provide years of motoring pleasure for potentially very little outlay.

Words: John Tallodi
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Last updated: 31st Aug 2016
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Audi A8 cars for sale

159 Search results
Audi A8
7999 79950 GBP
  • Audi A8


    Used condition, Franchise approved,

    • Mileage: 10200 mi
    • Engine size: 3993
    For sale
    Porsche Leeds
  • Audi A8

    £29,993 £29,993

    Variant name:TDI QUATTRO SE EXECUTIVE ,Derivative:MK3 FL (4H) (D4) ,Variant: 3.0 TDI QUATTRO SE EXECUTIVE - Huge Specification, 20'' Alloys, Heads Up Display, Extended Leather Pack Due in stock we have a superb 2014 (64) Audi A8 3.0 TDi 254 QUATTRO EXECUTIVE SE in Monsoon Grey metallic. This vehicle arrived in part-exchange at a Mercedes agent, and its one private owner provenance and a list of factory options exceeding £8000 led us to source the vehicle as an exceptional example for our stock. Factory options include Perforated Valcona leather Comfort seats £1380, Head Up display £1175, BOSE surround-sound system £1175, Electric slide-and-tilt sunroof £1035, Extended leather package £1020, Upper inlays - Piano finish, black £850, Audi active lane assist £510, Privacy glass £390, Comfort headrests for rear seats £255, Speed limit display £250, Satellite navigation, 20'' Alloys and more. Please register early interest.

    • Year: 2014
    • Mileage: 19444 mi
    • Engine size: 3
    For sale
  • Audi A8

    £38,995 £38,995

    Variant name:L TDI QUATTRO SE EXECUTIVE ,Derivative:MK3 FL (4H) (D4) ,Variant: 3.0 TDI (262ps) quattro SE Executive LWB Audi A8 3.0 TDI (262ps) quattro SE Executive LWB finished in Floret Silver, metallic. Specification includes MMI navigation system Plus, cruise control, 19" x 9j '15-spoke y' design alloy wheels with 255/45 r19 t, deluxe 4-zone climate control including rear comfort centre, digital TV reception, Audi music interface (ami), deselection of privacy glass, comfort seats, comfort headrests for rear seats, adaptive air suspension, lumbar support for rear seats, front passenger seat adjustment from rear, Audi matrix led headlights with dynamic front and rear indi, SE executive, electric sunblinds for rear window and for rear door window, front centre armrest, parking system Plus - front and rear, 4-spoke multi-function steering wheel with gear-shift paddl, MMI touch, rear vanity mirror, lower inlays - brushed Aluminium - Silver, power door closure, individual electrically adjustable outer rear seats, comfort front seats with memory, valcona leather, Audi phone box and mobile telephone preparation - high with, Audi matrix led headlights, BOSE® surround sound, LED rear lights, separate electrically adjustable outer rear seats, door mirrors - with memory and auto dimming function. elect, extended leather package, electric front seats with memory function, heated outer rear seats, Audi hands-free boot opening system and advanced key. DAB Digital Radio, Audi Drive Select, Drivers Information System, Advanced Key, LED Interior light,Sports Differential, light & Rain Sensor Pack,Electric Glass Sunroof

    • Year: 2016
    • Mileage: 1830 mi
    • Engine size: 3
    For sale
  • 2013 Audi A8 S8 TFSI Quattro 4dr Tip Auto, Full Audi Service History, 21inch Rotor Design Wheels, Navigation, Bluetooth, DAB, 6 CD Changer, MMI ipod Connection, BOSE surround Audio, Audi Drive Select.

    £37,900 £37,900

    Multi award-winning prestige car dealership John Holland is delighted to offer for sale this stunning Audi S8 finished in Phantom Black Pearl with Full Black Leather Upholstery and Extended Carbon Atlas Inlays. This staggering saloon car has a 4.2litre V8 twin turbo engine producing 520bhp and delivering a 0 to 62 time of 4.2 seconds in complete comfort. A huge specification includes 21inch Rotor Design Alloy Wheels, HDD Satellite Navigation, Bluetooth with Audio Streaming, DAB, 6 CD Changer, MMI ipod Connection, BOSE Surround Sound, Audi Drive Select, Front and Rear Parking Sensors with Reverse Camera, Electric Heated Front Seats with Memory, Cruise Control, Dual Climate Control, Keyless, Electric Steering Column, Carbon Fibre Gear Lever, Automatic Xenon Lights, Privacy Glass, Electric Folding Exterior Door Mirrors and much more. It also benefits from a full AUDI service history do at 10492miles on 30/10/13, 25695miles on 08/09/14 and 31513miles on 19/01/16. Supplied with 2 Keys and all its original owners manuals and wallet. John Holland has been established for over 40 years supplying a premium level of service in the sale of sports, prestige and collectors cars. We have a team

    • Year: 2013
    • Mileage: 39276 mi
    For sale
  • Audi A8

    £20,000 £20,000

    4x4 FINANCE PACKAGES AVAILABLE- We offer this High Spec Audi A8 LWB in Fantastic Condition throughout and with a Full Service history. Here at Auto-Sportiva we are an AA Approved Garage so Buy with Confidence. Ask about our Extendable AA Warranties. Spec Includes Full Black Leather Interior, Comfort Front Seat with Natural Leather, 19'' Alloys, Sat Nav, Electric Tilt and Slide Sunroof, TV Reception - Analogue and Digital, Deluxe 4 - Zone Climate Control, Heated Front & Rear Seat, Bluetooth Phone Connection, Bose Surround Sound System, Reverse Camera, Electric Memory Seats, Electric Opening and Closing Tailgate, Electric Blinds for Rear Door Window, Front and Rear Parking Sensors, Keyless Entry + Go, Power Door Closure, Electric Folding Mirrors, Multifunction Steering Wheel, Voice Command, Tiptronic Gear Shift, Bi-Xenons, Auto Lights, Auto Dimming Mirrors, Cruise Control, DAB Radio, Electric Steering Column Adjustment, I Pod Connection, Upper Inlays - Vavona Wood Assam Grey, Last serviced on 11/01/2017 at 56,290 miles, Standard Features - 7in High Resolution Touch Screen, Tyre Pressure Loss Indicator, Thatcham Category 1 Alarm, Electric Front and Rear Windows, Rain Sensor, Colour 5 seats, Metallic Ice Silver, WE ALWAYS RECOMMEND CALLING OUR SALES TEAM PRIOR TO VIEWING ONE OF OUR VEHICLES TO AVOID ANY DISAPPOINTMENT IF SOLD - FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT - www.auto-sportiva.com. Vehicles Supplied fully inspected, Valeted and with a Comprehensive Warranty and Clear HPI report so Buy w

    • Mileage: 57081 mi
    • Engine size: 4134
    For sale
  • Audi A8

    €59,950(£51,976.65) €59,950(£51,976.65)

    Variant name:3.0TDI 260HP quattro SE Executive + Sports Pack - PCP from E659 pm- Finance from 3.9% apr ,Variant: 3.0TDI 260HP quattro SE Executive + Sports Pack - PCP from E659 pm- Finance from 3.9% apr

    • Year: 2015
    • Mileage: 23187 mi
    • Engine size: 3
    For sale
  • AUDI A8 LWB Sport Executive 4.2 V8 TDI 63 2013

    £26,995 £26,995

    2013 (63) We are pleased to offer this fantastic Audi A8 4.2 TDI Sport Executive LWB. Finished in Metallic Black. First Registered 18/09/2013. One Owner - Company CEO Vehicle. Full Service History. Truly a stunning vehicle. Over GBP 70K New!;;Upgrades - Long Wheelbase, Standard Features - Electric Tilt - and - Slide Sunroof, HDD - Based Satellite Navigation System, DAB Digital Radio, Deluxe 4 - Zone Climate Control Including Rear Comfort Centre Armrest, Audi Parking System Plus, Heated Front and Rear Outer Seats, Electric Front and Rear Windows, Keyless Go, Upholstery - Valcona Leather, Audi Music Interface, Metallic or Pearl Effect Paint, Bluetooth Interface, Anti - Theft Alarm (Thatcham Category 1 Approved), 18in 7 Arm Design, Drivers Side Memory Function, Electrically Adjustable Seat Height, Upper Backrest Angle, Seat Cushion Angle and Seat Forwards and Backwards Position. 4 seats, Black.;;2 Keys Included. the top Sport Executive Specification Level bringing extra features such as Matrix LED headlamps over lower models and the 4.2 V8 TDI engine offering massive power. The Long Wheelbase version offers unrivaled comfort in the back. ;We can e-mail high quality pictures of this vehicle on request. Viewing is by appointment only.;;Included in the price of this vehicle is a Warranty Wise "Platinum" warranty. This cover is the highest level of cover available anywhere in the UK for vehicles of its age and mileage. It has been designed by Quentin Willson himself and offers a bespoke level of cover specifically designed for your vehicle, and has the following highlights:;- Unlimited Repairs up to the retail value of your car.;- Recoverywise Assistance is administered by The AA;- Free Rental Car in the event it is needed.;;Warranty Options:;6 Months: Included;12 Months: GBP 315;24 Months: GBP 1195;36 Months: GBP 2195;Finance Available

    • Mileage: 63681 mi
    • Engine size: 4.2
    For sale
  • 2014 Audi A8 3.0 TDI Quattro SE Executive LWB 4dr Tip Auto


    Upgrades - 3-Sp. Lth. Multi-Fun. Steer. Wheel/Gear Shift Pad., Massage Seats, Front and Outer Rear, Seat Ventilation/Mass. Fun. for Front/Rear Seats, Alloy Wheels-20in x 9J 7-Twin Spoke Des.High-Gloss, Panoramic Sunroof, Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System, Extended Leather Package Advanced, Night Vision Assistant with Pedestrian Detection, Audi Side Assist/Audi Lane Assist/Pre-Sense Rear, Audi Parking System Advanced with Top View, Twin-Pane UV/Heat-Insulating Glass/Heated Windscr., Deletion of Model/Engine Tech. and quattro Badges, Audi Exclusive Paint, Audi Assist Pack w. Pre Sense Plus and Lane Assist, Black Alcantara Package, Audi Exclusive Leather Pack 3 in Valcona Leather, Rear Vanity Mirror incl. Two Add. Reading Lights, Speed Limit Display, Interior Ioniser, Audi Exclusive Inlays, LED Ambient Interior Lighting, Additional Rear Interior Lighting, Deluxe 4 Zone Climate Control Inc Rear Comfort Armrest, Hands Free Boot Opening, Keyless Entry, Auto Folding Door Mirrors, Audi Park System Plus With Auto Park, All-LED Headlights incl. High-Beam Assist, Rear Power Reclining Seats, Mobile Telephone Preparation-High w. Audi Connect, Head Up Display With Speed, Speed Limit Navigatio

    • Year: 2014
    • Mileage: 37000 mi
    For sale
  • Audi A8

    £45,000 £45,000

    Variant name:3.0 TDI Quattro Black Edition 4dr Tip Auto ,Derivative:Black Edition ,Variant: 3.0 TDI Quattro Black Edition 4dr Tip Auto Alloy Wheels,Electric Mirrors,Electric Windows,Four Wheel Drive,Full Service History,Heated Seats,Isofix Seats

    • Year: 2017
    • Mileage: 5000 mi
    • Engine size: 3
    For sale
  • Audi A8

    £45,995 £45,995

    Variant name:Saloon Special Editions Black Edition ,Derivative:Black Edition ,Variant: 3.0 TDI (262ps) quattro Black Edition Audi A8 3.0 TDI (262ps) quattro Black Edition Saloon finished in Floret Silver, metallic. Specification includes 21" x 9j '5-arm rotor design' in titanium optic alloy wheels, comfort front sports seats, privacy glass, 3-spoke leather multi-function steering wheel with gear-shi, comfort headrests for rear seats, sport pack, sport air suspension with electronic shock ABSorption contr, electric front seats with memory function, Audi hands-free boot opening system, advanced key, lower inlays - brushed Aluminium - Silver, power door closure, Audi parking system advanced, black styling pack, gear lever in wood or piano black (depending on inlays / de, door mirrors - with memory and auto dimming function. elect, LED headlights, BOSE® surround sound, LED rear lights and mobile telephone preparation - high with Audi connect.

    • Year: 2017
    • Mileage: 3500 mi
    • Engine size: 3
    For sale
  • Audi A8

    £44,995 £44,995

    Variant name:Saloon S8 ,Derivative:S8 ,Variant: S8 TFSI Quattro Tip Auto Finished in Custom Black metallic, full Diamond stitched Lunar silver Valcona leather interior with grey contrast stitching and seams. OPTIONAL FEATURES FITTED TO THIS CAR Audi assistance pack to include adaptive cruise control, active lane change assist, side assist and pre sense plus Electric solar panel sunroof Privacy glass 3 spoke multi function steering wheel Heated seats front and rear Deluxe 4 zone climate control Electric lumber support Head up display Audi parking system plus Custom paint finish Speed limit display Additional reading lights Power door closure STANDARD FEATURES HDD satellite navigation with MMI toucha Automatic matrix LED headlights with LED daytime running lights Heat insulating double glaze glass Electric rear sun blinds BOSE premium sound system Bluetooth connectivity Audi drive select DAB radio Power operated boot 20” 5 Parallel spoke alloy wheels 360 degree camera Reversing camera Tyre pressure monitoring Advanced key Electric adjustable comfort memory seats Voice control Electric folding and auto dimming exterior mirrors Digital music server Auto dimming rear view mirror Alcantara headlining This stunning V8 saloon is presented in exceptional condition and has covered only 44000 miles. Car comes complete with a Audi main dealer service history.

    • Year: 2014
    • Mileage: 44000 mi
    • Engine size: 4
    For sale
  • Audi A8

    £7,999 £7,999


    • Year: 2006
    • Mileage: 82088 mi
    • Engine size: 3
    For sale
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