Fun Stuff

Depreciation Appreciation: 2011-2017 Audi A8

Welcome to Depreciation Appreciation! Every month, your pals at dig up an instance of how depreciation can make for an extraordinary used car deal.

This month, we’re looking at a stately cruisebeast with room and technology to spare, as well as grip for days in even the greasiest conditions. With powertrain options, equipment packages, and customizability to spare, the 2011-2017 Audi A8 offered something for virtually anyone after a European luxury flagship equipped with the winter-busting traction of Quattro AWD.

Plus, like seriously, this is a super-handsome-looking car that will make your neighbours jealous. Do you like being comfortable and looking like a total boss doing it? The A8 might just be your ideal ride.

The Sticky

The Audi A8 was available in standard A8 and extended-wheelbase A8 L (think limousine) versions, each of which came standard with quattro all-wheel drive (AWD). Designed to compete with the world’s best flagship sedans, this top-line posh-rocket packed nothing less than a laundry list of the most cutting-edge luxury, connectivity, safety, and entertainment content available. Radar cruise, high-end lighting systems, and an advanced infotainment, and central control system are among the notable features. Ditto the 1,400 watt stereo, with enough audio firepower to turn your brains into mucilaginous ooze.

Common engines will include Audi’s 4.2-litre V8 in earlier models, and either a 3.0-litre supercharged V6, or a 4.0-litre turbocharged V8 in newer units. The A8 was available with a TDI V6 diesel engine from 2014. A 6.3-litre W12 engine was available too, though units with this powerplant on board will be pricey, and hard to find.

Approximate New Value

For much of this generation, A8 starting prices landed around the six-figure mark before dropping off in recent years. In 2011, barebones A8s were lightening bank accounts by about $99,000, with the A8 L starting at about $106,000. For comparison, by 2014, entry pricing was about $91,000 for a standard model, and about $7,000 more for an A8 L.

Note that some used models carry an optional equipment list with pricing originally comparable to a new Hyundai. Even adding just a few bits of tech and knick-knackery could jack an A8’s price by $10,000 or more.

The gist? For all intents and purposes, the new Audi A8 was, basically, a $100,000 car.

Approximate Used Value

Today, and often with reasonable miles and just a few years of use, the Audi A8 can be had for half of its original value, all day long. Here’s one example of a three-year-old unit with under 70,000 kilometres, with diesel power and numerous options, for under $51,000. Here’s another unit that’s hardly broken in, with only 24,000 kilometres and many option packages, for tens of thousands less than its original owner paid just a few years ago. Or this two-year-old unit, with lots of add-ons and reasonable mileage, for under $60,000.

Add a few more years and miles, and pricing looks even more favourable. Case in point? Here’s a five-year-old A8 L with 72,000 kilometres for about the price of a loaded Honda Accord. If you’re not scared of higher miles, units like this and this are available from under $30,000, all day long. That’s a (maximum) six-year-old car for less than a third of its original price!

Test Drive Tips

Assuming you’ve confirmed that your bank account can handle the upfront cost of a new-to-you Audi A8 – as well as the costs of parts and maintenance required to keep it running – a few checks are advised ahead of purchase.

Spark plugs: Changing them on time in any car is important, and even more so in a direct-injected car, like the A8. Assume that the spark plugs are overdue for replacement and plan to change them, unless you see service records confirming that they’re still within their service life. The maintenance section of the owner’s manual has the full scoop. Prolonging or skipping spark plug changes in this style of engine can have a rapid snowball effect on mileage and performance, and can cause problems with numerous other engine components.

Electronics: Check everything that runs on electricity in the A8 you’re considering, several times, over the course of your test drive. Many electronics issues can be blamed on poor battery voltage (a trickle charger can help address this), though some may require pricey service or repair to correct. If any system or feature isn’t working properly, be sure to find out why, with the help of an Audi technician during a pre-purchase inspection (PPI). Don’t forget to check the Bluetooth, headlights, all remote keyfobs, all window and trunk-release switches, climate-controlled and motorized seat functions, and the central command system.

A detectable vibration between 1,000 and 3,000 rpm from the 4.0-litre turbo V8 engine could be caused by an issue with the electronic engine mount module. If detected, a dealer can analyze and correct the issue, likely with revised programming and software.

Confirm proper operation of the heater on all settings. If hot air fails to be pumped into the cabin, a broken component within the climate control system, or a bad thermostat, could be to blame.

One final note: if the transmission in the A8 you’re considering exhibits any unwelcome sensations – including hard shifting, slippage, or general clumsiness – or doesn’t shift smoothly and seamlessly at all times, updated software, installed to the transmission computer by an Audi technician, is the likely fix. Still, confirm that a software update is the cause of the issues, as these unwelcome sensations can also indicate rarer but far pricier-to-fix issues with mechanical components within the gearbox.

The Verdict

The best way to buy and own a used Audi A8? Pick one up from a certified pre-owned (CPO) program at an Audi dealer, budgeting for any extended warranty coverage available, and particularly, extended warranty coverage that covers high-tech and electronic components, as well as the driveline. Though many owners report a largely trouble-free experience, the potential repair costs to out-of-warranty systems and components make add-on warranty coverage a must-have for many shoppers. If extended warranty isn’t in your budget, be aware that buying a privately sold A8 without a full pre-purchase inspection by an Audi technician is strictly not advised.