Audi has unveiled its fourth-generation A8 luxury car at an event in Barcelona. With the announcement of its latest luxury saloon flagship, the German automaker enters a new era of smart engineering.
The new luxury vehicle will take on the BMW 7 Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Lexus LS.
The Audi A8 has been re-engineered and rebuilt from the ground up. From its design to its components, everything received a major overhaul. Most of the design and features have been carried over from Audi’s Prologue concept vehicle.
The German car maker has gone against the trends and moved towards a buttonless interior. To top it all off, Audi claims A8 is the first car in production to reach Level 3 autonomy.
The Audi A8 marks the dawn of a new design era for the entire brand. The company confirms that the new muscular and sporty looks are from the Prologue concept.
The refreshed A8 is 37mm longer compared to its predecessor in both standard and long-wheelbase A8L configuration. However, the car is slightly narrower and 13mm taller compared to the third-gen A8.
Its new, muscular design goes for straight lines rather than curves. Even the whole shape of the car can be represented in geometrical figures. The trademark Audi front grille has been replaced by a new horizontally aligned grille with tauter surfacing to make the vehicle look wider.
The front and tail-lights get a redesign as well, with slight cues from Audi’s predecessors. The rear lights are actually OLED displays with inky dark blacks and saturated colors.
The fourth-gen A8’s body makes use of more materials than any previous model. 58% of the car’s structure is built from Aluminium while the rest makes use of Steel. Magnesium and Carbon fiber, which forms the rear bulkhead.
Audi A8 comes with the most minimalist interior on a vehicle ever. The clean, futuristic dashboard, a redesigned multi-function steering wheel and dual touchscreens with haptic feedback are closely based on the Prologue concept.
Its new seats are 4kg lighter but are similarly spacious and comfortable.
It won’t be wrong to say that Audi has started an all-out war against buttons. The pre-historic looking buttons, nobs and toggles are now gone. These have been replaced by two multifunctional touchscreens with realistic haptic feedback. The only buttons visible are the ones on the steering wheel, and to be honest those still make sense.
The center console features two high-contrast displays. Audi says its new UI is much more responsive thanks to the new NVidia quad core processor, which is 50 times faster than the one used in its predecessor.
The rear seats on the A8 have ample headroom and do feel as luxurious as its price tag would have you believe thanks to the footrests, adjustable positions and warm massages. These are also accompanied by screens and a large removable tablet on each headrest.
The center column features a phablet sized device which allow the passenger to control almost anything on the vehicle like Climate control, individual lighting areas, volume and radio. The phablet also takes a SIM card allowing the whole car to connect to the internet and enables voice calls.
Of course, the downside of all the screens and glossy plastic is that you’ll probably need to brush away the dust every 20 seconds and wipe away the fingerprints after every touch. The plastic is similar to the one Samsung used on its phones back in the good old days, while the wood paneling is spread across different parts of the interior.
There’s a Bang & Olufsen speaker system inside the A8 while the UI is based on Android. There’s an optimized navigation system which can learn based on the routes driven on the car.
Engine & Performance
Audi A8 will initially come with two V6 turbo engines, a 3.0-liter TDI and a 3.0-liter TFSI. The car deliver a power of up to 340bhp. Future versions will offer options for a 4.0 liter turbo V8 engine and 6.0 liter W-12 engine as well.
All of these engine options will come with hybrid technology with a 48-volt electrical system. A water cooled alternator can work at speeds of up to 160km/h for 40 seconds or longer when at slower speeds. The electric motor should work for about 50 kms before running out of juice.
In a situation when the car ahead starts to move, the A8 automatically starts the engine even if the driver still has his/her foot on the brakes.
All wheel steering and active scanning suspension, which enables lower or raising each wheel independently, promises an improved driving experience. The car can be switched from a comfortable cruiser to a sports car using the built-in modes.
Smart Features & Self-Driving
Audi A8 comes with full Level 3 autonomous self driving and several ‘auto’ features. Audi claims it is the first car in production with such functionality.
The Traffic Jam Pilot makes use of a single camera, five radar units, ultrasonic sensors and a laser scanner – a first for any consumer vehicle – to allow for true hands-free driving for speeds of up to 60km/h on divided highways. This puts Audi ahead of its competitors like Tesla and BMW.
The use of this feature is still limited to highways and single lane driving. When cars ahead speed up to over 60km/h, the A8 alerts the driver to take control again.
The suspension also uses the cameras and the sensors to predict bumps on the road. In case the corner mounted radars detect an imminent side impact, the suspension motors lift the nearby sides of the body by 3.1 inches to direct the impact force to the car’s floor and beams.
Price & Availability
The 2019 Audi A8 starts at $103,000 and will arrive in Germany this winter. Global release is expected to be slower than usual partly due to the different rules and regulations regarding the self driving feature.
It is possible the car might not come with the feature in certain markets.