Thursday, February 17, 2011

Panzer on Wheels: Audi Unveils the Armored 2011 A8 L Security

As any self-respecting luxury car manufacturer, Audi is also offering its customers BRVs or Bullet Resistant Vehicles, with the latest such model being the W12-powered 2011 A8 L Security. Set to go on sale in late summer, this...panzer on wheels will also be available with another, as of yet unspecified powerplant, starting from 2012.

To the untrained eye, the 5.27 meters (208 inches) long sedan is almost identical to the standard A8, but looks are definitely deceiving as the Security is said to comply with the strictest standards in ballistic protection and can even withstand an explosion and still offer adequate protection for its passengers.

The armored sedan is built in roughly 450 hours in a special facility at the Neckarsulm plant in Germany, where the use of cell phones is prohibited in order to prevent any technology leaks.

At the heart of the A8 L Security is the Audi Space Frame (ASF) aluminum body, which holds a safety cell built using extremely tough materials, such as hot-formed armored steel, aramide fabric, ceramics, special alloyed aluminum and multilayer glass. Many of these overlap at the joints for added protection. The safety cell alone weighs 720 kg (1,587 pounds), but engineers didn’t stop there.

The side sills have also been reinforced, complemented by the armored floor, 300 kilograms (661 lbs) of special glass with polycarbonate coating and strengthened doors that weigh an additional 360 kg (794 lbs).

In case of an attack, the optional emergency exit system, built-in fire extinguisher system and smoke extractor can provide additional protection.

The A8 L Security is powered by a 6.3-liter W12 engine, which churns out 500HP and 625 Nm (461 lb-ft) of peak torque. Despite the added weight, the direct-injected naturally aspirated unit is capable of propelling the vehicle from standstill to 100 km/h (62 mph) in a very respectable 7.3 seconds and on to an electronically limited top speed of 210 km/h (131 mph). Power is sent to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission and the company’s trademark quattro permanent all-wheel drive system.

With its projected average consumption of 13.5 lt/100 km (17.4 US mpg), the armored luxo-barge needs 3 liters of gasoline less than then the previous 450HP model. Furthermore, the second engine is said to further reduce consumption to 10-11 lt/100 km (23.5-21.4 US mpg), which could point to a diesel powerplant.

To better cope with the extra weight, the chassis, brakes and electronic control systems have been revised, while the 19-inch forged wheels are shod in high load index tires that allow the vehicle to continue traveling at speeds of up to 80 km/h (50 mph) even if tire pressure is lost.

Inside, the A8 L Security offers the same levels of quality and comfort as any 2011 Audi A8 and can be equipped with a bevy of high-tech optional features, ranging from the state-of-the-art Bose sound system to the fast UMTS Internet connection module.

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