The new Audi A8 has made its world debut at the Audi Summit in Barcelona today [11th July] as the premium carmaker’s flagship model and the future of luxury class. In its fourth generation, the Audi A8 embodies the benchmark for Vorsprung durch Technik, with a contemporary new design, innovative touchscreen operating concept and a systematically electrified drive. The Audi A8 is also the first production automobile in the world to have been developed for highly automated driving. From 2018, Audi will gradually be taking piloted driving functions, such as parking pilot, garage pilot and traffic jam pilot into production.
A New Dawn for Audi Design
Stylistically, Audi A8 signals the dawning of a new design era for the entire brand. The front end with the wide, upright Singleframe grille and the fluid, muscular body symbolise a sporty elegance and sophisticated status. The A8 design represents the core attributes for which the Audi brand is renowned worldwide - sports appeal, lightweight construction and quattro permanent all-wheel drive. Muscular shapes above the wheel arches give visual expression to the quattro drive. The flagship model proclaims its identity both day and night, drawing on both the striking HD Matrix LED headlights with Audi laser lighting, and the LED light strip combined with OLED technology rear lights. These produce unique light animations as the driver approaches and leaves the car.
Redefining luxury interior
Spacious luxury represents the defining interior design feature of the new Audi A8. Compared to its predecessor, the A8 has grown substantially in length in both body versions. The range of equipment and materials is extensive, with every detail radiating superlative bespoke quality.
A radically new operating concept
Audi carries its high quality standards into the digital age with a radically new operating concept. At its centre is a 10.1-inch touchscreen display which, when off, blends almost invisibly into the high-gloss black surround thanks to its black-panel look. The user interface appears as soon as the car is opened. The driver controls the Infotainment system with fingertip control on the large display.
They can use a second touchscreen display on the centre tunnel console to access the air conditioning and comfort functions as well as making text inputs. A combination of acoustic and tactile feedback along with the use of common touch gestures such as swiping makes the new MMI touch response especially safe, intuitive and quick to use. The A8 can also engage in intelligent conversation. The driver can activate an array of functions in the automobile using a new, natural form of voice control. Information on destinations and media is either available on board or is delivered from the cloud at LTE speed.
World premiere: the pilot-driving Audi A8
The new Audi A8 is the first production automobile to have been developed specially for highly automated driving. The Audi AI traffic jam pilot takes charge of driving in slow-moving traffic at up to 60 km/h on motorways where a physical barrier separates the two carriageways. The system is activated using the AI button on the centre console. The traffic jam pilot manages starting, accelerating, steering and braking. The driver no longer needs to monitor the car permanently. The system allows the driver to take their hands off the steering wheel temporarily and subject to national laws focus on a drifferent activity supported by the car. As soon as the system reaches its limits, it calls on the driver to take back control of the task of driving.
In terms of cutting-edge technology, the traffic jam pilot is revolutionary in the world of automotives. Once activated, a central driver assistance controller (zFAS) now permanently computes an image of the surroundings by merging the sensor data. As well as the radar sensors, a front camera and the ultrasonic sensors, Audi is the first car manufacturer to also use a laser scanner. The introduction of the Audi AI traffic jam pilot means the statutory framework will need to be clarified in each individual market, along with the country-specific definition of the application and testing of the system. In addition, a range of approval procedures and their corresponding timescales will need to be observed worldwide. Audi will therefore be adopting a step-by-step approach to the introduction of the traffic jam pilot in production models.
The Audi AI remote parking pilot and the Audi AI remote garage pilot autonomously steers the A8 into and out of a parking space or a garage, while the maneuver is monitored by the driver, either inside or outside the car. They start the appropriate system from their smartphone using the new myAudi app. To monitor the parking maneuver, they hold the Audi AI button pressed to watch a live display from the car’s 360 degree cameras on their device.
New Audi AI active suspension
The Audi A8 also boasts the all new Audi AI active suspension, a fully active suspension system.
Through the use of electric actuators, the system cleverly allows the driver to raise or lower each wheel separately. This flexibility allows the driver to modify the car’s driving characteristic with huge latitude, ranging from the smooth ride comfort of a classic luxury saloon, to the dynamism of a sports car. Combined with pre sense 360°, the car is raised with lightening speed, if there is an impending lateral collision, aiming to reduce the potential consequences of the accident for all occupants. In conjunction with the advanced air suspension for the A8, the innovative suspension concept delivers an utterly new driving experience.
Reengineered V6 Turbo Engines
The new Audi A8 will launch in the Irish market with two extensively reengineered V6 turbo engines: a 3.0 TDI and a 3.0 TFSI. The diesel version outputs 286 bhp, and the petrol version 340 bhp. An eight-cylinder version – a 4.0 TDI with 435 hp will follow slightly later. The exclusive top engine version is the W12 with a displacement of 6.0 litres .
All engine variants operate in conjunction with a belt alternator starter (BAS), which is the nerve centre of the 48-volt electrical system. The mild hybrid technology (MHEV, mild hybrid electric vehicle) enables the car to coast with the engine switched off, and to restart smoothly. Furthermore, an extended start/stop function and an energy recovery output of up to 12Kw allows for even greater fuel consumption efficiencies – by as much as 0.7 litres per 100 kilometers in average driving conditions. The Audi A8 Long wheelbase e-tron quattro with its powerful plug-in hybrid drive will follow at a later date.
The Audi A8 is due to launch in the Irish market later this year with pricing to be announced at a later date.