From the street, Audi’s A8 L Security Sedan looks like any other no-nonsense vehicle out of Germany. Professionally serious with sedate, yet luxurious design elements, the A8 L Security is anything but flashy. However, upon closer inspection the new 500-hp luxury bulletproof sedan is anything but your average grocery getter.
Based on Audi’s A8 luxury sedan, the L Security model features all the personal safeguards a high profile individual could want. Underneath the vehicle’s beefed up skin resides a modified production body, with aluminum as the dominant material. Weighing approximately 40 percent less than a steel equivalent, the A8 L’s various components are hand-made in a secure area where, according to Audi, the process to fit the variant-specific components takes specially trained workers roughly 450 hours to complete.
Certification by the German Ballistics Testing Center is what buyers should be looking for on the window sticker when considering a high level security vehicle. Heat-formed armor steel, aramide fabric, ceramics, special aluminum alloys and multi-laminated glass around the passenger space work to ensure the A8 L Security meets class VR 7 ballistic protection standards. In certain areas of the car where explosive intrusion might be problematic, the car has been reinforced with armor plating that complies with VR 9 and VR 10 requirements. Explosive resistance is tested under the 2010 Explosion Resistant Vehicle (ERV) guideline.
To further protect important persons from explosive weapons, aluminum side sills with significant ballistic-proof profiles are used to up the safety factor, as are reinforced armor plated floor panels. According to Audi, the A8 L can withstand serious damage from military hand grenades.
Windows, usually the weakest part of a vehicle’s security perimeter, are treated with similar attention in the A8 L. Splinter-inhibiting polycarbonate layers in the windshield, side and rear windows are incorporated into the glass areas to handle small explosives and gun fire. Optional electromechanical side windows can be ordered for those interested in fresh air during potential rocket attacks.
As communications can be just as important when under fire as safety, Audi has located an armor-plated communication box with ceramic doors in the trunk. The reinforced box houses not only a supplemental battery, but control units and various communication electronics for passengers. An intercom with loudspeaker built into the front grille can be used to yell at nefarious attackers from the safety of the backseat if needed.
To deal with high speed, emergency driving, Audi has shod the A8 L out with forged 19 inch wheels with unconventionally sized 255/70 tires. In order to maintain drivability after a forced blowout, Audi has added polymer rings to the forged rims, allowing the vehicle to continue driving at up to 80 km/h (50 mph) until out of harm's way.
With all the layers of security and armor plating one would think a standard A8 L Security would be enough to get to work. Not so, says Audi. A plethora of optional safety add-ons are available for the sedan, including pyrotechnic fracture bolts in the door hinges that allow passengers to literally "blow the doors off," if needed. Should it get a little heated, an optional fire extinguisher system will douse flames under the wheel arches, gas tank, underbody and engine bay area with fire suppressant foam. In the event of a gaseous attack, an optional fresh air system will supply breathable air into the passenger space for, as Audi puts it, “enough time to exit the hazard zone.”
Audi says buyers can also outfit the car with, “a selective door unlocking system, interior smoke extractor, LED signal system for convoy driving, flashing lights, a siren, optional addition of analog or digital radio networks for police or security organizations, an accident data recorder, and an additional rear camera,” rounding out the many security options to choose from when tricking out one’s A8 L Security.
As far as driving performance details are concerned, the A8 L is offered with either a 4.0 liter V8 delivering 435 hp, or a W12 similar to that used in Bentleys, capable of delivering 500 hp and 461 lb.ft of torque. The latter powerplant provides performance along the lines of 7.1 seconds for 0-100 km/h (62 mph) and a governed top speed of 210 km/h (130 mph), while the V8 with twin turbochargers is slightly slower to 100 km/h (62 mph) at 7.5 seconds. For both engine configurations, an 8-speed tiptronic transmission is in place to handle power delivery to the car's permanent all-wheel drive system. The A8 L's quattro system biases power to the rear wheels under most conditions, or individual wheels when called for.
Unlike the armored Toyota Sequoia by Lexani Motorcars, Audi prefers to keep its A8 L Security more dignified and European when it comes to interior treatments. Inside the big Audi sedan is the usual array of luxurious amenities and finishes one would expect from such a vehicle. Rear passengers of importance get individual adjustable seats so they can relax while watching one of two 10.2 inch displays located in the Rear Seat Entertainment unit. An MMI terminal on the console allows the driver to control navigation and various multimedia functions via a touchpad/pushbutton configuration.
Audi will be taking orders for the new Audi A8 L Security W12 ttarting in the third quarter of 2014.