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TheStreet Open House

Audi '15 A8 Is a 868-Mile-Range Tesla-Killer, and Diesel Is the Secret

Stocks in this article: TMTSLABKWGOOGL

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Are you in the market for a $100,000 limo that can go 868 miles without stopping, and that can be refueled 100% in five minutes?  Audi has good news for you.

I recently had the opportunity to drive the 2015 Audi A8, which is a large limousine with four-wheel drive as standard, ideal for snow and the mountains.  It is Audi's new flagship sedan, and it has an amazing range and ability to refuel from any of almost 100,000 U.S. stations in just a few minutes.

What's even more amazing, if my initial test results were to hold up, is that it could cost as little as $1,200 per year to operate, in terms of fuel cost only.  So what is the secret behind this automotive wonder?

It's diesel.

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Audi's 2015 A8 diesel is rated by the Environmental Protection Agency at 24 miles per gallon city, 36 mpg highway.  However, as has become a popular refrain among diesel cars, real-world performance typically exceeds the EPA numbers.  In my case, I achieved a whopping 40 mpg in mixed driving, including idling and city traffic.

40 mpg in mixed driving is a very good number, beaten only by Toyota's (TM) Prius and a small number of other cars.  However, this is no econo-box or midsize sedan.  It's not even a regular large car.

This is a flagship limousine with rear seat space fit for Queen Elizabeth in a celebratory parade -- if she were German.  The overall luxury and interior comfort of the Audi A8 is to the Tesla  (TSLA) Model S what Buckingham Palace is to a Burger King (BKW).

Unlike in the Tesla, the Audi A8 lets you depart and drive in any direction you want, without having to plan carefully for those few locations where you can charge electrically relatively quickly (212 miles of range in 30 minutes).  In addition, you're not worried about whether there will be a line ahead of you with other drivers waiting to take their 30-minute turn at charging their cars before you do.

You can also turn up the heat to the max, without having to see the remaining range deplete at an alarming rate.  That alone might be the deciding purchase factor.

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