The All-New Audi A8 is the first production car in the world to have been developed for highly automated driving, and will be progressively introducing piloted driving functions such as the Audi AI parking pilot, garage pilot and traffic jam pilot into production.
The All-New A8 features a new front design which includes a new singleframe grill that has chrome angular inserts. It also have a new headlights design with OLED rear lights as standard across the range. Some other highlights of the Audi A8 include a larger battery on the 60 TFSI e Plug-in Hybrid model and four new exterior colours - District green, Ultra blue, Manhattan grey and Firmament blue.
The interior is the most important aspect in the luxury limo class, and this is one area where the Audi A8 excels, being miles ahead of its rivals. Everything looks and feels expensive, with high-quality materials used throughout and a design that’s sophisticated. The two 12.3-inch infotainment screens in the dashboard give it a modern edge too.
In the rear, there’s loads of legroom even in this standard wheelbase model, so there will be no complaints from those being ferried around, even if they’re taller than average.
The Audi A8 has an understated sophistication that makes it perfect for those who want something spacious and luxurious without drawing too much attention. Yes, it’s obviously huge, but the design avoids any of the bling accessories seen on some rivals in favour of a simple but classy look.
Up front, there’s a large grille with chrome surrounds that hint at the fact this is a pricier model, while the full-width rear lights give off a futuristic light signature at night. It’s at its best with smaller, subtler wheels, too, with these aiding the sumptuous ride and helping the A8 fly under the radar.
Being an Audi flagship model means the A8 is packed full of impressive technology. For a start, there’s the fantastic twin-screen infotainment system that’s clear and simple to use but still comes with everything you need, including satellite navigation and smartphone connectivity.
But appropriately, the tech available is more impressive still, with Traffic Jam Pilot offering some autonomous driving abilities in slow-moving traffic, adaptively damped air suspension, four-wheel steering, and a screen in the armrest for rear passengers.
There are two engines available on the standard A8, but the TFSI e comes equipped with a single plug-in hybrid powertrain.
It uses a 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine making 335bhp and 500Nm of torque, with a 0-60mph time of just 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 155mph. Particularly when compared with the standard petrol and diesel versions, it’s the economy where the real benefits are found, with fuel consumption measured at 109-113mpg and CO2 emissions being 60-57g/km. Keep the battery fully charged, and it can travel up to 29 miles on electric alone.
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The Audi A8 sits at the top of the German firm’s range as a luxury limousine designed to waft both drivers and passengers in supreme comfort. The cabin is incredibly spacious, with tonnes of rear passenger room and all of the technology you could ask for.
However, it’s great for drivers too, thanks to powerful engines, a fantastic ride and all the comfort you could need for spending hours behind the wheel. The TFSI e specifically offers plug-in hybrid motoring for reduced running costs, too.
The plug-in hybrid model is only available in Sport trim, which brings LED headlights, 19-inch alloy wheels, and adaptive air suspension. Inside, there are heated leather seats, MMI Navigation Plus, a DVD player and wireless charging. Meanwhile, driver assists include adaptive cruise control, a head-up display, and the Basic and Front versions of Audi’s Pre-Sense system.
What is it?
Beloved by chauffeurs and their leading business people passengers alike, the previous-generation A8 was handsome and comfortable, but starting to look distinctly long in the tooth. Now Audi is hoping the Mercedes S Class and BMW 7 Series will no longer be running away with class honours, thanks to this, its reimagined new model.
The A8 has been drastically overhauled, from the chassis right through to the seats. Most notable of the updates is a striking new dash that has abolished buttons in favour of two touchscreen displays that take control of everything, from heating to sat nav. It’s a massive improvement and a class-leading interface between driver and car.
The system is connected to the now familiar, and frankly brilliant, virtual cockpit that replaces traditional dials behind the dash with a slick, modifiable digital screen. The speedo and rev counter can be shrunk at the touch of a button to give the sat nav dominance or vice versa. Phone, media and journey details can all be called up, too.
But it’s those two new screens that really impress. Offering “haptic” feedback – the same sort of tapping feel you get through your finger from a smartphone screen when you press a button – it works slickly and quickly. It’s a wonderful new interface and the sooner it’s rolled out across the range the better.
There’s a host of clever technology implemented on the new car to make drivers’ and passengers’ lives more comfortable and safer. Things such as the electromechanical door handles that open the door like a button when you pull them just 3mm – and they won’t let you do it if the car senses an oncoming car or cyclist from behind.
Even more impressive is the Audi AI systems have started to be rolled out. These include parking, garage and traffic jam pilot. The introduction of the system, which can autonomously drive the car at speeds of up to 37mph on roads where a physical barrier separates traffic, and help park the car, will only be introduced in countries when and where laws allow.
What’s under the bonnet?
There are two V6 engines available at launch, a diesel and a petrol, both of which are “mild hybrids”. This belt alternator starter (BAS) system enables the car to coast with the engine switched off and to restart smoothly. Think of it as an improved cylinder shut-down system, which saves even more fuel.
We tried both the 3.0-litre diesel with 282bhp and 600Nm of torque – confusingly titled the A8 50 TDI Quattro – and the 3.0-litre A8 55 TFSI Quattro petrol unit, which offers 335bhp and 500Nm of torque. The 50 and 55 digits correspond to the power outputs, but need a degree in maths to understand. We’d suggest consulting a brochure – carefully.
The diesel is likely to be the best seller. It can hit 60mph in 5.7 seconds and is limited to a top speed of 155mph. Thanks in part to the mild hybrid system, it returns 50.4mpg and emits 145g/km.
We preferred the power delivery and sound of the petrol unit. There was some clatter audible on the diesel, and despite the increased torque, we found the TFSI the sweeter drive. The hybrid system doesn’t work as often as you want it to on motorways either, only shutting down a few times on our two-hour test route.
What’s it like to drive?
Continuing the clever new technology theme, the A8 boasts a host of innovations designed to improve its ride and handling. Optional dynamic all-wheel steering is definitely worth specifying as it reduces the turning circle by 1.1 metres – that’s the same as the far smaller A4. It makes tight spaces and U-turns far easier by turning the rear wheels the opposite way to the front at low speeds, while at higher speeds it improves stability and lane changes by turning the rear wheels in the same direction as the front. It’s a shame, then, that there’s absolutely no feel to the steering for the driver.
Adaptive air suspension comes as standard – and although not quite perfect, in most situations it offers an incredible ride. Using a camera linked to individual electric motors in each wheel, it can adjust the suspension independently to smooth out bumps it spots in the road. Sleeping policemen are impressively almost completely levelled out. However, the system doesn’t work at night. During daylight hours on the road, pitch and roll are drastically reduced, sometimes somewhat disconcertingly so. There’s very little movement under braking or acceleration, which feels strange if you’re driving, but is a delight for passengers.
That smart suspension has other benefits too. Cleverly, if the onboard radars detect an imminent side impact, it raises the suspension on that side by 8cm to help dissipate the energy through the floor pan. Audi says this won’t affect the chances of it rolling over, as the centre of gravity stays the same. To help passengers get in, as you open the doors the suspension springs up 4cm too. It’s very clever stuff.
How does it look?
A huge, gaping, bottom-feeder-like grille dominates the front of the car, but sharp lines along the body and striking LED headlights make it really stand out.
At the back, the LED lights wrap around the whole of the car and evoke memories of the Saab 95. They won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but overall the proportions are stylish and give the car a powerful stance. The long wheelbase option is the one to go for, if you can afford the additional outlay.
What’s it like inside?
Inside, in the back is where things really count, as Audi says “this is where the King sits”. You certainly feel like royalty in the reclining, heated and cooling seats. The rear passenger gets a tablet-like control panel which can be removed from the centre armrest and used to adjust the rear blinds, the music, stereo and other settings too.
Up front, the driver gets all the benefits of that brilliant new cockpit, climate comfort and optional massaging seats, a smart new-design steering wheel and wireless charging for a mobile phone. It’s a wonderful place to spend time as a driver and passenger and as luxurious – if not more so – than its rivals.
What’s the spec like?
The specification is impressive with that mild hybrid system, adaptive air suspension, virtual cockpit, LED headlights, eight-speed automatic gearbox, acoustic windscreen and heated front seats, among other things, all coming as standard.
But, as you’d expect, you can go mad on the options with that clever, dynamic all-wheel steering, Audi AI functions, Bang & Olufsen sound system, TV in the front and back, and even a foot massaging system, all extras you’ll want to add.
Audi has moved the luxury limousine game on to new levels with this A8. Truly innovative technology both inside and out, plus some game-changing new suspension, steering and safety systems has catapulted Audi’s flagship to a position where stealing the number one spot from its rivals looks very likely. Whether you’ll be sat in the driver’s seat or the “king’s seat” in the back, you’ll be sure to enjoy Audi A8 ownership very much indeed.
Facts at a glance