The Ingolstadt-based automaker hosted a mega-event during the first Audi Summit in Barcelona, with the main attraction being of course the fourth generation A8 and A8 L flagships.
As per Audi tradition, while it may not seem the case, the A8 is bringing with itself a new design language, along with the latest “Vorsprung durch Technik” developments and innovative interior elements. The new A8’s design is inspired by the Audi prologue design study and comes in at 5.17 meters for the standard version or with a 13 centimeter (5.1 in) longer wheelbase in the A8 L guise. While Audi claims the future has arrived, we’re kind of confused, because it looks a lot like the past. Aside from the extended overall dimensions, the A8 also comes with 12 exterior shades – three of them new – something that is really not out of the ordinary. The major design novelty up front is the new Singleframe grille, as well as the use of new lasers for the HD Matrix LED high-beam headlamps. The new system can double the range of high beams at speeds above 43 miles per hour, which is the point of activation. The most obvious change to the rear is the continuous LED strip.
Moving inside, the A8 does come off a bit better in its claim to represent the future of automotive. The automaker premieres the second-generation Audi Cockpit with a new version of the digital instrument cluster that presents info in full HD resolution of 1,920 x 720 pixels. There’s also a 10.5-inch center dash infotainment screen and the cockpit overall has way fewer buttons and knobs compared to the current generation. The new Multi Media Interface loves touch and voice commands, and aural and tactile feedback is present for the driver when he or she actually uses traditional controls. Audi adds there are 41 different driver assistance systems, and the MMI can be set up for six different user profiles with up to 400 different functions. Among them we can mention the “smart” navigation system with a self-learning function, optional head-up display, connectivity for smartphone, a wide range of cameras and sensors, audio system with 3D sound in the rear for the first time, and of course many more.
The teased relaxation seat is exclusive to the long-wheelbase A8 L, but frankly we’re more interested in those fancy semi-autonomous features. Audi is the first manufacturer using a laser scanner along with radar systems and other sensors to understand its surroundings. The highly automated driving system will allow drivers take their hands off the wheel in slow-traffic situations on divided highways – but speed needs to remain below 37 mph (60 kph). When you need to park, the A8 can enter a garage or space without anyone present inside – with remote monitoring and activation via the user’s smartphone.
In terms of mechanical details, the major switch for the A8 is the presence of electrification across the entire range. The launch engines will be two turbocharged V6s, 3.0-liter TFSI petrol with 340 horsepower, and a 3.0-liter TDI diesel with 286 horsepower. Each one is paired to a mild hybrid system that can allow the A8 to coast up to 40 seconds without the engine running, between 34 and 99 mph. Audi added next in line are 4.0-liter V8 engines for TSI and TDI badges, along with a flagship W12 and e-tron plug-in hybrid – and power is sent to all four wheels via a new eight-speed tiptronic automatic gearbox. Audi’s new active suspension is called the AI active suspension, and has components for each wheel for independent adjustment, and the make has even revealed the prices – the 2018 Audi A8 goes this fall at home in Germany for €90,600, or €94,100 if you want the A8 L.