I agree... a beautiful car. As the former owner of a 2002 A8, I concur... until it all starts to go downhill. Run, don't walk to Auto Trader or Cars.com to get rid of this sponge before the warranty expires. Rid yourself of this car before the warranty expires... unless you are a masochist, have a tow truck as a second vehicle, a large amount of money in the bank earmarked for repairs, or have 2 other vehicles.
Frankly, I don't know why expensive German and Swedish cars are such money pits? Even Volvo, Jaguar and Saab, who are owned by Ford and GM respectively are quality nightmares. It's funny, but the Jaguar is far more reliable than any of the German and Swedish cars.
There is a reason that people are gravitating towards Japanese and Korean cars... they work, and work well over a 10-year period. I had a Toyota Cressida for 16 years, along with hell-cars from Mercedes, BMW, and Audi. Except for replacing a known head gasket problem under warranty, it was trouble-free.
Just wait until you hear the words from Audi, "We will need to replace the transmission." Yikes! That will be me honking as I drive past the Audi dealership in my Hyundai Azera Limited with the big smile on my face. No more Audi's for me.
To the Azera Limited owner...
Do you really think someone who can afford an Audi A8 will even bother looking at an overrated boring piece of crap Hyundai? Of course not!
Asian alternatives to the Audi: Lexus? Yes. Acura and Infiniti? Maybe.
But a Hyundai? Come on...
Hyundais are mostly crap.
So crap in fact, they are sold with a 5-year warranty in order to fool people into buying these pieces of crap, only for the people who bought them to find out that a long warranty is no guarantee of good quality.
I own an Audi A8L and find the car to be outstanding on almost every level. I have owned this beautiful piece of automotive excellence since 2006 and have had no problems of any kind. I find it to be far more beautiful than the BMW 700 series or Mercedes, period. I do wish it got a bit better gas mileage, but I knew what I was getting. If you want true luxury, this is the car for you.
Audi and other German cars have their quirks, yes. But personally it's never crossed my mind to get a Hyundai, even if it's the most "trouble free" thing on the planet.
The thing is, when I'm searching for a car, I'm looking at the total package, and not a car that gets good gas mileage and never breaks. If that was the case, I still wouldn't bother with Hyundai or the likes, and instead would be happy with a 1986 or so Ford Escort. Good on gas mileage, and nothing breaks that prevents from getting from point A to B.
But it's more than that. Hyundai I find is just too uncomfortable; the overwhelming smell of plastic is nauseating to me (seriously), and I can't stand the sound of the engines. Sounds like a lawnmower or a blender on the last leg of its life. And not many packages come with leather. I despise cloth seats; they itch, doesn't smell good new or in the average used car, and anything liquid soaks in and leaves the interior smelling like mold. A car without leather is a deal breaker automatically for me, regardless of made/model. Plus Hyundai rides terrible. To get a sense of scale that I'm on as far as ride quality, I find the Audi A8 ride a bit on the firm side, but bearable. In Germany this is non issue, once you are up to speeds of 100 odd mph, and it's smooth as glass. But in the states, not many if any places to run them like that, so it's a little stiff for stateside driving.
If I was looking for an alternative to a European vehicle, and it had to be Japanese, it probably would be Lexus LS. I always thought they looked a bit plain, and yawn just looking at one, but the 2000-2006 ones are not bad looking in today's sea of average cars, that just about look the same, except for the emblems. The new ones, I don't like the style. They went from a staid image, to just trying too hard to be stylish.
The Jaguar XJs have a nice smell on the interior that I love, at least up until 2008. The new ones are sharp looking, but lack the Jaguar interior smell I'm used to. Cadillac, if it wasn't for that blasted Northstar engine, I'd buy one in a heart beat. New Lincolns are meh. Another style that in about four years will look dated.
MBZ/BMW. MBZ always been a favorite; comfortable, good styling, reliable, well built, and decent performance, until 2000 when reliability seemingly went out the window.
The early W140s had their fair share of problems, and I would avoid them if possible, but the later ones are very reliable, but if something does break, then yes it will cost a little more than say a Hyundai.
The W220s are still nice; a little more plastic on the interior, less wood than usual, rides excellent, but you can tell they cut a lot of corners in the reliability and QA section.
The 2007+ S-Class interior looks and feels meh, like the Lexus, and the outer styling is OK.
BMW 7 Series of the 90s had an understated style. The ones prior were distinct, but it was definitely a driver's car of the time, and new ones will run circles around it, but they had character, and when someone pull up in a say 1987 635, there is no mistaking it for anything else but a BMW, from the looks and the exhaust note.
The 2002-2008 7 Series I think looks good; not great, but good, but in 2006 they smoothed it out to where it looked a little better (dang fangled Bangle), but the interior is one of the nicest interiors you can get in a car. But to me it's a tie between that and the Audi A8, and Volkswagen Phaeton, and it's even more true for the 12 cylinder versions of each of those cars.
The new 7 Series look like the 5 Series, which looks like a 3 Series, which looks like a Honda, which looks like a Toyota, which looks like a Hyundai, which looks like a Kia, which looks like a Ford, which looks like a Mazda, which looks like a Chevy, which looks like a Nissan, which looks like a Mazda, which looks like a 3 Series, which looks like the 5 Series, which looks like the 7 Series.
But different things for different folks. I prefer my comfort, wood, leather, and a nice riding car, and I'm willing to pay for it. I don't see the point for me to spend $15,000-$30,000 on a Hyundai, if I can't even stand being in it without getting sick and having back pains, and feeling every bump in the road, and hearing all that road noise on top of that annoying engine droning on.
With most European cars, they are comfortable and relatively quiet, and the ones that are not, have an engine that sounds like music, rides nice, and some performance to boot, so that I won't have to worry about hills.
I have a Jaguar XJ, and some people find the driver's seat small and cramped, but it fits me like it was tailor made for my frame; everything is within reach that I need, without having to move any part of my body except my arm, and it's roomy enough, without feeling like a death trap, and it doesn't look like some designer took another car and slapped the corporate logo on it. Looks like someone actually put some work into the details.
Does it have quirks? Yes. It has a common problem of eating up the A-drum every 40,000-90,000 miles, that can cost anywhere from $2000-$7000 or more to replace, depending on how much damage the metal particles do to the rest of the car. The fuel gauge only seem to be able to sense only half of the capacity. From full to half tank, the gauge goes from full to showing empty, but that's only about $100 to replace, and removing the back seat to access the hatch for it; a DIY job. Original plastic tensioners, which if they break, will cause a dead engine and a repair of near $10,000 or so. But upgrade for about $90 a pop, and about two hours in labor on slow day, and no more worries. And all of that, on top of the normal maintenance and the usual ball joints that don't last long on the crappy roads around here, at the tune of about $80-$120 a pop, and being about 5 per side, and about four to five hours of labor on a slow, take time day, and the hassle of getting the alignment perfect. Yet after all of that, I wouldn't trade it in for something more "reliable", just so I can be cooped up in some uncomfortable car. I think my health is worth more than I ever can spend on a "high maintenance" vehicle.