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

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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

172 Search results
Audi A8
6995 78950 GBP
  • Audi A8

    £18,990 £18,990

    Variant name:TDI QUATTRO SE ,Derivative:MK3 (4H) (D4) ,Variant: TDI QUATTRO SE

    • Year: 2011
    • Mileage: 67200 mi
    • Engine size: 3
    For sale
    Drift Bridge Group-Croydon Mazda
    0203 819 6207 VIEW CONTACT NUMBER
  • Audi A8

    £27,495 £27,495

    Electric Sunroof, Bose, Colour SatNav, Parking Camera, Heated Seats, Electric Seats, 4x4 Immaculate Condition, Incredible Car with Great Specification, Upgrades - Head Up Display, Power Door Closure, Electric Slide-and-Tilt Sunroof, Valcona Leather w. Comfort Seats, Alloy Wheels-20in x 9J 10-Parallel-Spoke Design, Upper Inlays-Fine Grain Ash, Velvet Brown, Audi Parking System Plus with Park Assist, Climate Control With Sun Sensor, Black Full leather interior, Four wheel-drive, Standard Features - Satellite Navigation System - HDD - Based, Heated Front Seats with Variable Temperature Adjustment, Automatic Start - Stop Function, Cruise Control, DAB Digital Radio Reception, MP3 Compatible Front-Loading CD/DVD Player, AM/FM Tuner, 60GB Hard Drive, 2 x SD Card Readers, Audi Music Interface (AMI), MMI Touch, Rain Sensor, Colour Drivers Information System (DIS) with 7in High-Resolution Display, Privacy Glass from B-Pillar, Mobile Telephone Preparation-High w. Audi Connect, Electric Front and Rear Windows, Alloy Wheels-20in x 9J 5-Double Spoke Design, Thatcham Category 1 Alarm, Metallic or Pearl-Effect Paint, Tyre Pressure Loss Indicator. 5 seats, Silver, FINANCE PACKAGES - With a number of lenders on board we are able to offer packages to suit individual circumstances. HPI CLEAR - All vehicles are provided with full HPI reports. WARRANTY - At Velvis Cars we provide every vehicle with a standard 3 month warranty through Auto Protect. An upgraded 6 month warranty, or wear and tear policies over 6 and 12 months are also available on request. Call or Text up to 10pm. 7 days

    • Mileage: 41000 mi
    • Engine size: 2967
    For sale
  • Audi A8

    £43,993 £43,993

    Variant name:L TDI QUATTRO SE EXECUTIVE ,Derivative:MK3 FL (4H) (D4) ,Variant: 4.2 TDI 385 LQUATTRO SE EXECUTIVE - Huge Specification, List Price 85765 Pounds, TV, 20 Inch Alloys, BOSE, Please Read Our Comments Due in stock we have a superb specification Audi A8 4.2 TDi 385 L Executive SE. The standard specification on this car is comprehensive but it is the factory ordered optional extras that stand this car apart. Factory options include but are not limited to - 20 Inch alloys 10 parallel spoke, BOSE surround sound, Decorative inlay poplar brown silver, Individual rear seats electric adjustment outer, LED headlights Audi matrix with dynamic front and rear indicators, Mobile phone preparation high with connect, Additional rear reading lights, TV function digital, Vanity mirrors rear, Extended leather pack. Other features include Electric sunroof, Audi parking system advanced with reverse camera, Power Doors, Advanced key, Deluxe 4 zone climate, LED ambient lighting, Electric sun blinds for rear windows, Adaptive air suspension, Audi Quattro with sports differential, only 2679 miles and commanding a list price new with this specification of 85765 pounds. Incredible car and incredible value.

    • Year: 2016
    • Mileage: 2649 mi
    • Engine size: 4.2
    For sale
  • Audi A8

    £18,990 £18,990

    Variant name:TDI QUATTRO SE ,Derivative:TDI QUATTRO SE ,Variant: 3.0 TDI (250 PS) quattro SE

    • Year: 2011
    • Mileage: 51800 mi
    • Engine size: 3
    For sale
  • Audi A8

    £22,500 £22,500

    Satellite Navigation, Heated Seats, Parking Sensors, Lumbar Adjustment, Parking Camera, Electric Seats, Memory Seats, Headlamp Jetwash, Xenon Headlamps, DAB Digital Radio, Rain-Sensing Wipers, LED Daytime Running Lights, Voice Control, Front Fog Lamps, Full Leather, Front Centre Armrest, Multi-function Steering Wheel, Air Conditioning, Climate Control, Isofix, Metallic Paintwork, ABS, Air Bag, Side Air Bags, Auto Lighting, Immobiliser, Alarm, Traction Control, Sports Seats, Electric Front Windows, Automatic Electric Windows, Radio, Child Locks, Head Restraints, Stereo, DVD Player, Electric Mirrors, Colour Coded Body, Rear Headrests, Rear Armrest, Adjustable Steering Column, Anti-Theft System, Central Locking, Remote Alarm, Remote Central Locking, Height Adjustable Seat, Bluetooth, 20'' Alloys For a no obligation test drive, finance quote or part-exchange valuation call us today. You can find more photos, enhanced specification, vehicle documents and the HPI certificate on our web site. Just click on the green 'visit web' site button above. This car has been inspected by trained technicians and passed a multi-point inspection. For a hassle, haggle free buying experience and drive away the same day visit Big Motoring World today.Award winning Big Motoring World stocks up to 2,000 BMW, Mercedes, Audi and VW cars.

    • Mileage: 59258 mi
    • Engine size: 2967
    For sale
  • Audi A8

    £9,895 £9,895

    Colour SatNav, Full Leather, Parking Sensors, Bose, Heated Seats, 4x4 Great Example with an Impressive Specification Including a Custom Fitted Rear TV, Upgrades - Professionally Installed Rear Screen Entertainment, BOSE Surround Sound, TV Reception Analogue And Digital, Four Zone Electronic Climate Control, Comfort Seats, 3 months warranty, Next MOT due 01/06/2017, Full service history, Black Full leather interior, Four wheel-drive, Standard Features - Satellite Navigation - DVD, Seat Heating for Front and Rear Seats, Voice Control System - Key Function of MMI, Automatic 4-Zone Air-Conditioning, Cruise Control, Acoustic and Optical Parking System - Front and Rear, DAB Digital Radio, Electric Front and Rear Windows, Green Tinted Glass, Keyless Go - Star / Stop Button, Bluetooth Mobile Phone Connection, Upholstery - Valcona Leather, Front Seats - Electrically Adjustable (14-Way) w. Memory, CD Autochanger (6 CD) in Glove Compartment with MMI, Drivers Information System (DIS), Rain Sensor - Automatic Activation of Front Wipers, 17in x 8J 7 - Spoke Design Alloy Wheels with 235/55 R17 Y-Tyres, Anti - Theft Alarm (Thatcham Category 1 Approved), Metallic Paint. 5 seats, Silver, FINANCE PACKAGES - With a number of lenders on board we are able to offer packages to suit individual circumstances, including Sub Prime. HPI CLEAR - All vehicles are provided with full HPI reports. WARRANTY - At Velvis Cars we provide every vehicle with a standard 3 month RAC warranty. 6, 12 and 24 Month Policies are available on request. Call or Text up to 10pm. 7 days a week.

    • Mileage: 99000 mi
    • Engine size: 2967
    For sale
  • Audi A8

    £22,000 £22,000

    Satellite Navigation, Parking Sensors, Heated Seats, Memory Seats, Xenon Headlamps, Rain-Sensing Wipers, LED Daytime Running Lights, Voice Control, Front Fog Lamps, Multi-function Steering Wheel, Air Conditioning, Isofix, ABS, Air Bag, Side Air Bags, Immobiliser, Alarm, Traction Control, Electric Front Windows, Automatic Electric Windows, Radio, Child Locks, Head Restraints, Colour Coded Body, Metallic Paintwork, Adjustable Steering Column, DVD Player, Powered Folding Mirrors, Height Adjustable Seat, Rear Armrest, 20'' Alloys For a no obligation test drive, finance quote or part-exchange valuation call us today. You can find more photos, enhanced specification, vehicle documents and the HPI certificate on our web site. Just click on the green 'visit web' site button above. This car has been inspected by trained technicians and passed a multi-point inspection. For a hassle, haggle free buying experience and drive away the same day visit Big Motoring World today.Award winning Big Motoring World stocks up to 2,000 BMW, Mercedes, Audi and VW cars.

    • Mileage: 60541 mi
    • Engine size: 2967
    For sale
  • Audi A8

    £23,000 £23,000

    Variant name:TFSI HYBRID ,Derivative:MK3 (4H) (D4) ,Variant: 2.0 TFSI HYBRID 4 DOOR, AUTOMATIC, SAT NAV, LEATHER HEATED SEATS, DVD, AUDI PARKING SYSTEM ADVANCED WITH ADDITIONAL REAR VIEW CAMERA, POWER OPERATED BOOT LID, ALUMINIUM SILVER LOWER INLAYS AND WALNUT BROWN UPPER INLAYS, CLIMATE CONTROL, CRUISE CONTROL, AL THIS CAR HAS BEEN HAND PICKED BY STEBBINGS, FULLY VALETED TO THE HIGHEST STANDARD! IT COMES SUPPLIED WITH UPTO DATE SERVICE HISTORY , HPI CHECKED AND CLEAR. PLEASE VISIT OUR WEBSITE FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO VIEW OVER 500 MORE VEHICLES! LOW RATE FINANCE AND PART EXCHANGE AVAILABLE.

    • Year: 2013
    • Mileage: 48779 mi
    • Engine size: 2
    For sale
  • Audi A8

    £6,995 £6,995

    No service history Driver, Passenger And Front Side Air Bags,Anti-Lock Brakes,Satellite Navigation,Electronic Stability Programme,Cruise Control,Alarm,17In Alloy Wheels,Front Head Air Bags,Climate Control,Seat - ISOFIX Anchorage Point,Power-Assisted Steering,Driver Information System,Remote Central Door Locking,Front/Rear Parking Aid,Front/Rear Electric Windows,Front/Rear Armrest,Driver/Passenger - Driver Memory Electric Seats,Memory Electric/Heated Door Mirrors,Front Fog Lights,Centre Rear Seat Belt,Memory Rake/Reach Adjustable Steering Column/Wheel,Front Head Restraints,Nine Speakers,Immobiliser,Electric Front/Driver Memory Seat Height Adjustment,Automatic Dipping Rear View Mirrors Internal,Spare Wheel,Leather Seats,Radio/CD Autochanger, Call us today about the finance options on this vehicle. Part exchanges welcome.

    • Mileage: 93655 mi
    • Engine size: 2976
    For sale
  • Audi A8

    £24,993 £24,993

    Variant name:TDI QUATTRO SE EXECUTIVE ,Derivative:MK3 (4H) (D4) ,Variant: 3.0 TDI 250 QUATTRO SE EXECUTIVE - Beautiful Colour Combination In stock we have 2013 Audi A8 TDI QUATTRO SE EXECUTIVE 3l Automatic offered in Night Blue, Pearl Effect with Woodlook trim, Alloy trim on centre console and leather gearknob. Features include but are not limited to - Satellite navigation system with colour, 8.0 inch display, 3D and voice and traffic information, DVD, CD/MP3, Radio receives AM/FM/LW, digital and RDS, Steering wheel mounted remote audio controls, Automatic air conditioning with two climate control zones, Keyless entry, Keyless start, Bi-Xenon headlights, Bluetooth, Electrically foldable, heated and light sensitive body colour power door mirrors with integrated indicator lights, Collision warning system, iPod/USB/AUX Connections, Cruise control, LED Day time running lights, Double glazing, Heated leather seats, Electrically adjustable front seats, Electronic hand brake, Engine start/stop, Front and rear electric windows with one-touch, 19 Inch Alloys, Front and rear parking sensors, Four wheel drive, Headlight cleaners, Headlight controlsystems, Heated washers, Hill holder, Memorised adjustment controlling steering wheel position and door mirror position, Rain sensing windscreen wipers, Rear/reverse parking guidance display, Remote controlled boot.

    • Year: 2013
    • Mileage: 31137 mi
    • Engine size: 3
    For sale
  • Audi A8

    £34,990 £34,990

    Variant name:Saloon ,Variant: 6.3 Quattro LWB 20 inch Alloys Satellite Navigation Bluetooth Sunroof Rear Seat Entertainment BOSE Night Vision Soft Close Doors FASH John Holland Winner of Dealer's Dealer of the Year at the National Car Dealer Awards 2014/15 is delighted to offer for sale this beautifully presented Audi A8 6.3 Quattro LWB. Finished in Night Blue with complimenting Grey Leather Upholstery, Grey Alcantara Roof Lining, Brushed Aluminium and Piano Black Interior Inlays. This Stunning example comes with a huge specification to include, 20" 5 Spoke Alloys Wheels, Sunroof, Satellite Navigation, Bluetooth, Rear Seat Entertainment, Reversing Camera, Heated Multi Function Leather Steering Wheel, Electric Steering Colum, Adaptive Cruise Control, Four Zone Climate Control, Heated Front And Rear Seats, Electric Front and Rear Seats with Memory all round, Soft Close Doors, DAB Radio with BOSE Sound System and ipod Connection, Keyless Entry and Start, Front and Rear Parking Sensors, Heated Electric Folding Mirrors, Digital TV, Night Vision with Pedestrian Detection, Twin Pane UV Heat Insulation Glass, Privacy Glass, Heated Screen, Headlamp Wash, Auto Lights, Xenon Headlights, LED Daytime Running Lights, Illuminated Entry Guards, Rear Vanity Mirrors and much more. Supplied new by Harold Wood Audi Essex and Serviced by them at 18804 miles and 38120 miles, and again recently on the 26/08/16at 55000 miles. 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 of experienced buyers who hand pick our cars from all parts of the uk so you can buy with confidence all vehicles are HPI Clear and prepared to the highest standard, full dealer facilities available call the sales team for further information.

    • Year: 2012
    • Mileage: 55539 mi
    • Engine size: 6.3
    For sale
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