Move over Mercedes S-Class?
After months of anticipation and a relentless teaser campaign, the all-new Audi A8 luxury sedan has been revealed in Barcelona, though you’ll have already caught a glimpse of it if you saw Spider-Man Homecoming when it swung into cinemas last week. Taking its cues from the Prologue Concept, the new A8 looks as sleek and sophisticated as you would expect for a new flagship sedan, boasting a singleframe grille, slim headlights with incorporated LED daytime running lights, and a sloping roofline to give it a coupe-like shape.
At the rear is a distinctive LED strip between the OLED tail lamps that produces animations as the driver approaches and leaves. While it’s 4 mm narrower than the outgoing model, the new Audi A8 is 37 mm longer and up to 17 mm taller than its predecessor. In other words, it’s a massive car: the standard model is 5127 mm long, while the A8 L has a 130 mm longer wheelbase. 58 percent of the structure is aluminium, but Audi also uses steel, magnesium and carbon fiber reinforced polymer. Audi touts its Mercedes S-Class rival as being the “first production automobile in the world to have been developed for highly automated driving.”
While that may sound like a dubious claim, the A8 is easily the most technologically advanced Audi yet, and is said to be the first car to offer level 3 autonomy ahead of the Mercedes S-Class and Tesla Model S. Audi’s AI traffic jam pilot activates autonomous driving in slow-moving traffic at up to 37.3 mph on freeways and highways where a physical barrier separates the two carriageways. Unlike in a Tesla, the A8 doesn’t need to be monitored when driving itself, meaning you take your hands off the wheel while the traffic jam pilot takes care of acceleration, steering and braking. Like its rivals, the A8 can also remotely park itself in a garage or parking space using a smartphone with no occupants inside.
These autonomous features will be introduced in 2018. The A8 is also the first car to use a laser scanner which, in conjunction with radar sensors, a front camera and ultrasonic sensors, can read the surroundings, detect bumps in the road, and adjust the suspension accordingly before you hit them for a smooth ride. Thanks to its all-wheel steering, Audi promises “unshakable stability” in the A8. You get all-wheel drive as standard, and Audi’s AI active suspension is so advanced, it can raise or lower each wheel separately with electric actuators. This allows for versatile driving characteristics, ranging from "the smooth ride comfort of a classic luxury sedan to the dynamism of a sports car.”
The innovative suspension system acquires its energy from a 48-volt electrical system, which can raise the car if it detects an impending side collision to reduce the risk of injury to occupants in an accident. Inside, traditional switches and buttons have been replaced with touch screens. At the center is a crisp 10.1-inch touchscreen display which when off, blends almost invisibly into the high-gloss black surround. A second touchscreen complements the center display, allowing access to the air conditioning, comfort functions and text inputs. Swiping the displays feels tactile as the driver hears and feels a confirmation click. Alternatively, cabin functions can be activated using voice control.
Both models contain a more spacious cabin which acts as a luxurious lounge. As an optional extra, the A8 L has a relaxation seat behind the front passenger seat with four different adjustment options, a comfort head restraint and a footrest. It can even warm and massage the soles of a passenger’s feet using a unit incorporated into the back of the front-passenger seat. In Germany, the new A8 will be offered with two V6 turbo engines: a 3.0-liter TDI and a 3.0-liter TFSI. The diesel powertrain will offer 286 hp, while the gasoline variant will provide 340 hp. A 4.0-liter TDI V8 with 435 hp will follow later along with a 460-hp 4.0-liter V8.
Topping the range will be a 6.0-liter W12, but the output hasn’t been revealed. All five engines operate with a belt alternator starter allowing the A8 to coast when the engine is switched off and restart smoothly. Audi says this system will reduce fuel consumption by 0.7 liters per 62.1 miles in real driving conditions. Scheduled to arrive in German dealerships this autumn, prices for the standard A8 start at 90,600 euros ($103,248), while the A8 L will set you back 94,100 euros ($107,236).