Audi has uncovered the new Audi A8 at Frankfurt and introduced us to the technology that’ll shape its model range for years to come
Audi is claiming class-leading autonomous features and new levels of efficiency for its latest A8, which has made its public debut at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show. The car is due on sale this month with prices expected to start at around £70,000. The new luxury limousine is the most hi-tech vehicle ever offered by the Ingolstadt brand and is targeting customers of the Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7 Series.
New Audi A8: dimensions and interior
The A8 is 37mm longer than the outgoing model, in both standard form and long-wheelbase A8 L configuration. The wheelbase is slightly longer, too, but the car is also very slightly narrower than the old A8.
Audi’s new design language is introduced in the exterior styling, with a more muscular look and a front grille with multiple horizontal lines to make the car look wider.
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The cabin represents a larger step over the outgoing model, with a cleaner, simpler design made possible by a 10.1-inch screen that’s neatly integrated into the centre of the facia, and a secondary 8.6in display that controls ventilation and heating.
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The rear cabin gets extra legroom for all passengers and in the long-wheelbase version, the left-hand seat can be turned into a ‘relaxation seat’. Activating the function presents the rear occupant with a heated and massaging footrest.
Audi A8: engines
Diesel dominates the engine line-up – although every version of the vehicle gets some form of electrification. The stock motor for UK buyers will be an updated version of Audi’s 3.0-litre V6 TDI unit, producing 282bhp, but there will also be a V8 diesel with 429bhp soon after launch. British customers will get a petrol option too, though, in the form of a 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 with 335bhp.
All of the A8’s powerplants will make use of 48-volt electrics to power a mild hybrid system that lets the car coast with no combustion engine at all for up to 40 seconds at a time. It also assists the motor when the car pulls away; Audi claims the system allows the car to travel around 2.5 miles further on every gallon of fuel.
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Audi UK is likely to continue offering the range-topping W12 petrol edition of the car. It’s due later in 2018 in long-wheelbase form only, and featuring a revised version of the twin-turbocharged 6.0-litre W12 motor producing 540bhp and 800Nm.
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Also due soon after the main model’s launch is the A8 L e-tron quattro, which mixes a 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 petrol engine with an electric motor to offer a combined output of 443bhp and 700Nm of torque. The e-tron’s boot space takes a small hit to accommodate batteries that allow the car to drive up to 30 miles without firing up the combustion engine.
The e-tron will be a plug-in hybrid, but Audi will also use it to introduce wireless charging; diagrams on the car’s infotainment system help the driver to position the A8 over a supplied pad, which then rises to minimise the gap to the underbody. The system then recharges at a rate of 3.6kWh.
The A8 gets air suspension and an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard; other chassis options will include an active sports differential and four-wheel steering. Wheel sizes will range from 17 inches up to 21 inches.
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Audi A8 autonomous driving aids
Audi is claiming that the A8 is the first car to bring Level 3 autonomous tech that allows it to start, accelerate, steer and brake on any road where there is a central barrier between traffic directions. Called Traffic Jam Pilot, the system works at up to 37mph and, depending on local laws, the driver won’t need to monitor it, allowing them to focus on a different activity, such as watching a TV program on the car’s infotainment display. This is likely to require a law change in the UK, however.
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The car has a comprehensive range of inputs to help it gauge its surroundings – 12 ultrasonic sensors on the front, sides and rear, four 360-degree cameras on the front, rear and side mirrors, a long-range radar and laser scanner at the front, a front camera at the top of the windscreen and a mid-range radar at each corner. The optional Audi AI remote parking pilot and remote garage pilot use these sensors to help steer the vehicle in and out of spaces and garages – without the driver necessarily being in the car.
The new A8 will go on sale in September, with first deliveries by the end of the year. Audi UK has yet to release prices but we’d expect regular-wheelbase editions to start at just under £70,000.