The latest from AUDI is no different. The all new A8 looks like it has shed its bulkiness, gone is the “Mafia” look and in with a sleek, almost coupe design. This is in tradition with the latest designs from Audi. The large rear windscreen is steeply raked adding to the coupe design, while the front end has an exaggerated chrome grill , giving the vehicle a presence. Like all other Audis, the A8 also has the famous LED headlights that give the vehicle that bit of extra bling.
At first glance one does not realise how long the vehicle is, unless it is parked next a mere standard sedan. That's when you notice how big the A8 actually is, from the 20inch wheels to the large doors that make getting into the vehicle an absolute pleasure.
Inside one is invited by large leather seats, with a sporty criss-cross pattern in the centre on the seat back and bottom. The leather bound gearshift and dashboard adds to the luxury feel of the vehicle.
Once in, the usual hassle of re-opening the doors to ensure that they are closed is done away with, thanks to the soft close doors that automatically seal the doors shut. Then there is absolute silence, that is until you turn on the magnificent Bose sound system. While I was still amazed by the screen that miraculously lifted out of the dashboard, the sound clarity took my breath away.
At the back, the two significantly spacious seats were separated by a large armrest that incorporated the individual climate control functions for each passenger. What was welcoming is the fact that the rear arm rest can be lifted up and stowed into the seat making room for an additional person. The interior lighting was unique, it had a thin long light on each side with a “U” shaped one around the light cluster in front. These lights stay on all the time, but their brightness can be controlled through the command system. While changing the brightness of the top lights, one can also adjust the lighting in the foot-well both front and back separately, and, if you would like to change the look or mood in the vehicle you can always change the colour of the ambient lighting emitted from the doors.
The instrument cluster is typical Audi, but the speedometer and Rev counter have been tilted inwards to make place for the large electronic display that doubles as the screen for the night vision. As this vehicle has the same engine as the one put in the infamous R8, it is expected to see the speedometer read all the way to 300 km/h, however, as per a gentlemen's agreement, the vehicle has been limited to 250km/h.
The centre consol is covered in a dark wood outline and a piano black centre, which I thought looked very classy. Something that took me a while to get accustomed to, was the stop start button that was placed half way back on the centre consol. Depress that with your foot on the brake and the A8 comes to life. The sight burble from the engine is an indication of the sheer horse power under that bonnet, just in case you need it.
On the road, the vehicle felt more like a magic carpet then a car, as it just floated over all the irregularities in the road, including the famous Gauteng potholes. It did this without a fuss or grumble. I guess that's where the comparison stops. The driver can also change the suspension, gearbox and engine settings depending on the type of ride one would like. This could be comfort, auto or dynamic. Needless to say dynamic makes the vehicle sportier and a tad bit firmer. I preferred to leave it in auto, as the vehicle would sense when to make a change depending on my driving style. So, the sudden acceleration would immediately cause the gearbox to change to sport mode. This made the vehicle an absolute pleasure to drive. Another cool feature is the height adjustable suspension that allows the driver to adjust vehicle height at the touch of a button. This is fantastic for curbs or, indeed, our notorious Gauteng potholes
Overall I was truly impressed by the vehicle. Yes many of the top Marques have very similar features and toys but, at the end of the day, it is all about the enjoyment one has with the vehicle. I think most people that buy this vehicle will be chauffeured around, but I would urge you to get behind the wheel, you may resort to never being a passenger again. asa
Engine: 4163cc eight cylinder
Power: 273KW @ 6800rpm
Torque: 445Nm @ 3500rpm
0-100km/h: 5.7-seconds (Claimed)
Fuel Consumption: Average 9.5l/100km
Vehicle courtesy of Audi SA.
Honda Civic Type R
The Civic has been around for a while so it is not new to our roads, but it still retains its edgy design and athletic looks. This is even more so on the Type-R which is the sport version of the standard Civic.
At first glance, you notice the large rear and extended front spoilers. Then you look again and realise that this is no ordinary Civic. It has only two doors and the front grill has black mesh as opposed to the silver standard grill. Also, the brake calipers have the Type-R insignia, which is easily seen thanks to the large mag-wheels.
Inside, the sportiness continues, from the black and red suede racing seats all the way down to the silver (racing style) pedals. The steering wheel is leather bound, adding to the overall effect. The gearshift is a silver metal ball that is perfectly positioned for those quick gear-changes. The dashboard layout takes some getting used to, as the centre of the display is taken up by the large rev counter that has a redline starting at 8,000 rpm, while the electronic speed display is placed above the main display in a separate housing. This allows the driver to keep his eye on the road while still keeping an eye on his speed, which is pretty necessary, especially in a car such as this. The speed display also has four lights on the left that indicate when you are approaching redline whilst on the right is a little red light that indicates when the i-vtec is in action. As you get more accustomed to the vehicle, you can hear when the gear needs to be changed, as the engine screams, especially after 6,000 Rpms, thanks to the v-tec technology.
On the road the vehicle feels nimble and very sure footed. The ride is a bit on the hard side which must be expected, as it is a sports car. The drive is smooth and almost docile until you push the accelerator to the floor. Watch out as all hell breaks loose! The engine note changes from a growl to a scream that is music to the ears. This causes the adrenaline to pump through your body, which makes you beg for more. It is almost addictive, the more you push the limits the more you want. On the bends the vehicle just goes like it is on rails and thanks to the figure-hugging sport seats, you don't move about much either.
The interior space is surprising, especially the rear seats, which will comfortably seat two adults for longer trips and three on shorter ones. Access to the rear is relatively easy thanks to the large doors and the folding sports seats, however the driver or front passenger has to re-adjust their seat after this, as the seat has no memory of the last position once it is folded and pushed forward. The boot is also very deceiving from the outside, as it looks small and short when in actual fact it is very generous and it even has a spare wheel, albeit a space saver.
Overall I think Honda has changed the term ‘impractical hot hatch'. This vehicle has all the power and space that one will need. The fuel consumption is also quite good, averaging at around 10 litres per 100 km overall. It also feels solid both inside and on the road. Added to this, it has sporty looks and proven reliability. What more can you ask for? I guess that's why it is “the power of dreams”. asa
Engine: 1998cc four cylinder
Power: 148kW @ 7800rpm
Torque: 193Nm @ 5600rpm
0-100km/h: 6.6 seconds (Claimed)
Fuel Consumption: Average 9.3l/100km Urban 12.7l/100km
Vehicle courtesy of Honda SA.
Azim Omar CA(SA) is a member of the SAGMJ.