The strength of the BMW M4 Coupé is evident in every detail.
Just the thing for the plutocrat in your life: this is the most exclusive variant in Audi's new A8 car line - the A8 L Security, capable of meeting the highest level of criteria that apply to civilian vehicles.
Certified VR7, the body and the windows are guaranteed to stop a Nato-calibre 5.56mm rifle bullet, or withstand a military hand-grenade without posing a lethal threat to the occupants.
At 5270mm long on a 3120mm wheelbase, the A8 L Security is barely distinguishable from the production version. It's based on a modified production body made largely from aluminium, with a built-in passenger cell made of heat-formed armour steel, aramide fabric, ceramic, a special aluminium alloy and special multi-laminated glass with a splinter-inhibiting polycarbonate layer on the inside.
WHAT BIG BANG?
Aluminium side sills incorporate massive ballistic-proof profiles that afford increased protection against explosive weapons - an area in which the requirements have become considerably tougher in recent years - as does the armoured floor, made from a special aluminium alloy.
It takes specially trained technicians, working in a secure area, about 450 hours to build each body before it's sent back to the plant for final assembly.
These include a patented emergency exit system, that uses an explosive hinge bolt to detach the door from the body - than all it takes is a gentle push and the door falls out of its frame no matter how badly twisted the body is.
The optional fire extinguisher system - activated either manually or by heat sensors - sprays fire-damping foam from two tanks in the boot into the wheel arches and engine compartment, and on to the underbody and fuel tank.
An emergency fresh-air system provides breathable air from two pressurised cartridges to the interior, in most cases for long enough to drive through or out of a hazard zone, generating higher-than-atmospheric pressure inside the cabin to push out smoke and toxic gases.
The interior of the A8 L Security comes with electrically adjustable individual seats in the rear as standard. An extensively adjustable front-passenger seat with electric-control footrest, ventilation and massage function is an option.
A continuous centre console with large storage compartments is also available, including two 250mm colour displays and optional features such as a folding table, a cool box and auxiliary heating.
The interior is trimmed in specially soft and breathable unicum leather, with inlays in either silver or gold-stained wood veneer.
The 3993cc TFSI V8 is rated at 320kW (11kW more than its predecessor) and 600Nm from 1500 to 5000rpm, accelerating this necessarily hefty sedan from 0-100km/h in 7.5 seconds and averaging 10.9 litres per 100km.
The 6299cc W12 has four rows of three cylinders (actually, it's two 15-degree Lancia VR6 engines set at 72 degrees on a common crankshaft) and it's naturally aspirated because there simply isn't anywhere to put the blowers.
Nevertheless, it churns out 368kW and 625Nm, taking the high-security A8 L to 100km/h in 7.1 seconds and on to an electronically limited 210km/h, at an average cost of 13.5 litre per 100km.
Either engine drives all four wheels (with a bias towards the rear) through an eight-speed paddle-shift transmission; brakes, suspension and electronic driver aids have been beefed up and recalibrated to handle the increased weight, as are the 19" forged-alloy rims and special 255/70 run-flat tyres.
LED headlights are standard on the V8 while the W12 FSI flagship features matrix LED headlights in which each high-beam projector comprises 25 small, individual light-emitting diodes that can be switched on and off or dimmed individually as needed, precisely masking other road users out of the cone of light, without significantly reducing illumination.