Audi A8L TDI: 36 mpg and big luxury for $83,395

Audi A8 3.0T frontWhile Chevy is busy prepping its economical Cruze Eco-D diesel for an auto show debut, Audi is busy at the other end of the compression ignition spectrum. The German carmaker just announced the pricing and fuel economy ratings for the A8L TDI, a diesel version of its flagship sedan.

The A8L TDI is the first of four new diesel models announced by Audi back in November at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The other three are the A6, A7, and Q5; all three will be powered by versions of Audi’s 3.0-liter turbocharged V6.

In the A8L, the V6 produces 240 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque and returns 24 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. The least thirsty gasoline A8, the 3.0T (pictured), has a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 with 333 hp and 325 lb-ft. However, the gasoline V6 can only muster 18 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.

The A8L TDI also compares favorably with other green luxury barges. A Mercedes-Benz S350 Bluetec 4Matic returns 21 mpg city and 31 mpg highway, while a gasoline S400 Hybrid is rated at 19 mpg city and 25 highway. The Lexus LS600h L is rated at 19 mpg city and 23 mpg highway.

BMW’s equally large ActiveHybrid 7L returns 22 mpg city and 30 mpg highway, and it doesn’t have all-wheel drive like the Audi, Lexus, and Mercedes.

At $83,395 (including an $895 destination charge), the A8L TDI is also competitively priced. The BMW ActiveHybrid 7 starts at $84,300, and both Mercedes are significantly more. The diesel S350 Bluetec 4Matic has a $93,000 base price, while the S400 Hybrid starts at $92,350. The most expensive, though, is the Lexus, which starts at an eye-watering $119,910 (although it does have 438 hp).

Since this diesel is still an A8, buyers get the benefits of Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system and MMI infotainment system. A new premium package adds parking sensors, 22-way power seats (with cooling and massage for the fronts), and full LED headlights.

The diesel engine will only be offered in long-wheelbase models; Audi believes there is too little demand for a short-wheelbase version.

Audi also makes an A8 Hybrid, with a turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine and 1.3-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, but it is only sold in Europe.

As the most fuel-efficient big luxury car this side of a Fisker Karma, the A8L TDI should do a lot to spread the diesel gospel. It goes on sale this spring, followed by A6, A7, and Q5 TDIs in the coming months.

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