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Audi A8

D1 V8 Quattro

1 Nov 1990

AS Audi’s first foray into large luxury-car territory, the forgotten V8 was plagued by misfortune.

It was a daft move to bring this daftly named Mercedes 300E competitor to a market where Audi, as an oddball fringe player, lacked the right cache in those days.

Bad timing didn’t help (it was already two years old when it was released here and the early 1990s global recession obliterated whatever buyers it may have scored), while a lacklustre 3.6-litre V8 married to a sleepy four-speed automatic gearbox struggled to overcome the Audi’s significant weight penalty created by the heavy all-wheel drive system. A 17.3 second 0-400m-sprint time says it all.

But what really did the V8 in – besides unreliability and a ridiculously high price – was wilfully dull styling that made it difficult to tell it apart from its almost identical (and far cheaper) 1982-1991 Audi 100/200 siblings.

Very few V8s were sold, and the model quickly disappeared. Today upkeep is expensive, but at least this Teutonic curio offers the intrepid buyer anti-lock brakes, leather upholstery, electric seats, a sunroof and real exclusivity.

Audi models

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