The new Audi A8 presents the future of the luxury class. | LFOTPP

The new Audi A8 presents the future of the luxury class.

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In its fourth generation, the brand's flagship model again provides the benchmark for Vorsprung durch Technik - with a new design language, an 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.

The new Audi A8 and A8 L are being built at the Neckarsulm site and appeared on the German market in late fall 2017. The starting price for the A8 is EUR 90,600, with the A8 L starting at EUR 94,100.

Doyen of Audi style: the exterior design

Sports appeal, lightweight construction and quattro - the design of the new A8 perfectly conveys Audi's fundamental values. It embodies sporting elegance, sophistication and progressive status. The new flagship model takes the brand into a new design era.

The hexagonal Singleframe grille dominates the sedan's upright front end. With its low position and width, it determines all adjoining lines and surfaces. The headlight shapes merge perfectly with the Singleframe. With the optional HD Matrix LED headlights, the daytime running lights are a visual extension of the grille's top lamella. The segmented light signature divides the headlights horizontally, creating an elegant overall impression. Substantial chrome frames surround the air inlets, with a flat center inlet connecting them.

The side view with the coupé-like silhouette highlights the sporty character of the new A8. Its proportions accentuate both the front and rear wheels - prominent muscular shapes above the wheels are pointers to the brand's quattro DNA. The low shoulder line starts right up at the headlights and runs across the door handles as far back as the rear lights. A fold below the window capping also emphasizes length. The sill rises to the rear in typical Audi style and lends the new A8 a dynamism worthy of a luxury-class car.

The rear end is inclined slightly in the direction of travel, appearing to push the sedan along even when stationary. The defining element of a lighting strip extends across the entire width. It radiates high intrinsic value thanks to the embedded chrome strip. The segmented OLEDs adjoin at its ends and combine to form a signature. Another chrome strip in the lower part of the bumper integrates the trapezoidal trims of the exhaust system.

There is a choice of twelve colors for the A8, including the new Audi colors Terra Gray, Vesuvius Gray and Seville Red. The colors Impala Beige and Navarra Blue are available for the A8 for the first time. Via the Audi exclusive program, customers can also have the luxury sedan supplied in a color of their personal choice. For those who want their car to create an even more striking visual impact, there is the option of a chrome exterior package.

HD Matrix LED, laser, OLED: the lighting

Audi leads the way in lighting technology and design. In the new A8, the technologies interact intelligently with the surroundings. For example, Audi laser lighting is used here for the first time with HD Matrix LED high beams. The laser spot is identified by an X-shape shutter and is also accentuated by blue ambient lighting. The daytime running lights with the vertical segments emphasize the technical elegance of the headlights. The laser spot is activated from a speed of 70 km/h (43.5 mph) and doubles the range of the high beam.

Each HD Matrix LED high-beam unit consists of 32 small, individually controlled light-emitting diodes that project the light in two lines. This new configuration ensures that the A8 provides even more dynamic and precise illumination together with the variable-control low-beam headlights. The light cone blanks out exclusively other road users, so as not to dazzle them. The high-precision control for the HD Matrix LED high beam is based on data supplied by the front camera.

Cornering light is produced by displacing the light's focal point. It uses the navigation data to shine into a bend just before the steering is turned. The junction light equally comes on predictively just before a junction is reached. The segmented turning light also comes on dynamically in three stages up to a maximum angle of 90°. With all its functions complete with dynamic turn signals, each HD Matrix LED headlight incorporates 138 LEDs and one high-performance laser diode. The innovative automatic lighting prevents incorrect operation and is controlled from a new light switch module with proximity sensors and touchscreen surface.

Together with the high-end headlights, Audi supplies OLED rear lights that emit extremely smooth light. There are four ultra-flat OLEDs floating in each module, sub-divided into four individually controlled segments. Two on each side form the angular tail lights, and the other two act as the brake lights.

Below the OLEDs there is also an LED light strip that adapts to ambient brightness when the brakes are applied. The same goes for the dynamic turn signal lights positioned directly below them. There are 135 light-emitting diodes in operation in each rear light.

The lights give the new A8 exceptional presence at the very first glance. This is substantially down to the animated dynamic lighting functions. They present the luxury sedan in a unique manner when it is unlocked with the remote control key. First a point of light in the headlights runs from the outside inwards, then the blue LED on the laser spot lights up, and finally the side lights come on from the inside outwards.

Two loops with the same dynamic aesthetics run in parallel in the OLED rear lights: The light runs in a circle, initially dimmed and then at full brightness. The light presentation continues inside when the door is opened. This is accompanied by a short audio jingle. When the driver locks and leaves the new A8, the light presentation in the headlights and rear lights runs in the opposite sequence.

Comprehensive spatial experience: the interior design

A new dialog between technology and aesthetics - the interior of the Audi A8 presents a comprehensive spatial experience. The architecture blends seamlessly with the new operating concept, which has virtually eliminated buttons and controls. The clean, expansive surfaces convey the relaxed atmosphere of a luxury lounge. Tranquility and reduction are fundamental aesthetic values in the brand's new flagship model.

Inside the large sedan, the lines flow elegantly and create clear, horizontally oriented volumes. They accentuate the freedom that the new A8 offers its passengers. The applications in the sculptural instrument panel are available in a choice of wood veneer or piano finish and create the wrap-around - the large arc running across the door trims and into the rear. This zone accommodates the air vents, which are concealed by shutters when inactive. If the automatic air conditioning is set directly to the interior, the shutters are slid up and away electrically while the air vents extend out a few centimeters.

In the lower section of the instrument panel, the central 10.1-inch touchscreen display with black panel technology blends almost invisibly into the high-gloss black trim. Depending on the equipment, it is in slate gray with a technical structure or in dark, matt-brushed aluminum. On the center tunnel console, which continues the black-panel look, there is a second touchscreen display measuring 8.6 inches. The buttons on its bottom edge optionally blend in with the display look to present a continuous touchscreen surface. They provide the user with tactile and acoustic feedback as from a conventional switch. The same applies to the light switches and the controls on the air vents.

As an option, two LED light guides each on the center tunnel, instrument panel and in the doors create a fitting lighting atmosphere in the interior. They create contour and ambient lighting with separate brightness and color control as an elegant way of accentuating the design lines. On the A8 L, the backs of the comfort customized contour front seats also incorporate a contour light strip. The newly developed Matrix LED reading lights each with seven LEDs provide optimum illumination. The passenger can precisely control the brightness, size and focus of the light cone with the rear seat remote control.

Natural and authentic: colors and materials

The interior of the new A8 is notable for its authentic materials. Some of the real wood inlays are open-pored and feel natural to the touch. For its leathers, Audi fundamentally steers clear of chrome tanning - its top-quality unique pieces are natural materials tanned with plant-based products, can breathe actively and are hand-crafted. The comfort head restraints are enveloped in soft, velvety Cocoon leather, a new upholstery of the highest grade. The harmony of the materials and their naturalness create a new, contemporary impression of luxury. They radiate craftsmanship down to the finest detail, giving them bespoke character; the same applies to the perforation in the seat upholstery.

There are eight material and color schemes in the new A8, culminating in Audi design selection. For the upholstery, the choices are Verdi cloth and the leather grades Valetta, Valcona and Unicum. These can be supplied in the new colors pearl beige, metropolis gray and merino gray, for example. On selected equipment items, contrasting stitching adds an extra highlight. In addition, depending on version the instrument panel comes in a two-color design. There are various veneers, ranging from beech and eucalyptus to burr walnut and black piano finish. Finally, those wishing to enhance their A8 to their personal taste will find an extensive selection of other exclusive veneers, colors, materials and leather upholstery and trim in the Audi exclusive program.

Even more efficient: engines with MHEV technology

At its market introduction in Europe, the new Audi A8 will start out with two extensively reengineered V6 turbo engines, a 3.0 TDI with 210 kW (286 hp) and a 3.0 TFSI with 250 kW (340 hp). The two V8 versions will follow: The 4.0 TDI develops 320 kW (435 hp), and the 4.0 TFSI has a power output of 338 kW (460 hp). Also appearing later on is the W12 for the A8 L, developing 430 kW (585 hp). All engines offer supreme refinement, ample performance and high efficiency. The new mild hybrid technology (MHEV, mild hybrid electric vehicle) drives down fuel consumption even further - by as much as 0.7 liters (0.3 US gal) of fuel per 100 kilometers (62.1 mi) in real driving conditions. Particulate filters for the gasoline engines will follow in 2018.

Audi's MHEV technology is based on a newly developed 48-volt primary electrical system - it supplies the 12-volt system that now becomes an electrical subsystem. The 48-volt system is fed by a belt alternator starter (BAS) connected to the engine's crankshaft by the belt drive. A lithium-ion battery positioned safely beneath the luggage compartment floor serves as the storage unit.

The new drive combines efficiency with comfort in a very special way: Thanks to the higher voltage, the new A8 can coast along silently in a speed range from 55 through 160 km/h (34.2 through 99.4 mph). The automobile then proceeds with zero emissions for up to 40 seconds with the engine off altogether. As soon as the driver steps on the gas again, the belt alternator starter prompts a swift but soft restart. In addition, start/stop operation is actually active from 22 km/h (13.7 mph). When the brakes are applied, the BAS can recover up to 12 kW of power, again helping to reduce fuel consumption.

Power and spontaneity: the 3.0 TDI and 3.0 TFSI

Both V6 engines are high-tech units. The 3.0 TDI develops 210 kW (286 hp) from a displacement of 2,995 cm³. Many areas have been extensively reengineered, such as its very sophisticated thermal management. With 600 Nm (442.5 lb-ft) of torque across a rev range from 1,250 to 3,250 rpm, it develops hefty traction. The 3.0 TFSI with a displacement of 2,967 cm³ develops 250 kW (340 hp) and likewise achieves its peak of 500 Nm (368.8 lb-ft) extremely low down the rev range, between 1,370 and 4,500 rpm. Its exhaust end lies inside the 90° vee, so the short gas paths and the twin scroll charger promote responsiveness. Its combustion principle makes the V6 gasoline engine especially efficient. To support it, the Audi valvelift system (AVS) adjusts the intake valve opening times and stroke in two stages based on demand.

Performance and culture: the 4.0 TDI and 4.0 TFSI

Even more performance is on tap with the two four-liter, eight-cylinder engines that are to follow in 2018 - the 4.0 TDI with 320 kW (435 hp) and the 4.0 TFSI with 338 kW (460 hp). They share fundamental technical principles, such as biturbo technology and the Audi valvelift system (AVS). When the gasoline engine is being driven with restraint, the AVS deactivates cylinders 2 3, 5 and 8 by closing their intake and exhaust valves. This reduces fuel consumption and promotes efficiency. On the diesel, AVS operates one exhaust valve in each cylinder. It therefore manages the two turbochargers, which - unlike on the TFSI - are switched sequentially. For better filling of the combustion chambers, there is likewise an intake AVS on the TDI.

Under load, the 4.0 TFSI develops a characteristically sporty sound that is completely free from interfering frequencies. On the V8 gasoline engine, the e-tron and the W12, Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) eradicates these. The system sends specific anti-noise to the sound system's loudspeakers. In addition, the V8, W12 and 3.0 TDI are fitted with active engine mounts that inhibit the transmission of vibrations to the vehicle body. They, too, generate out-of-phase counterimpulses - their effect is particularly marked when idling.

Exclusive top engine: the W12

The W12 will follow in 2018 in the new Audi A8 L as the supreme, highly refined top engine version. With its two twin scroll turbochargers, it develops 430 kW (585 hp) from a displacement of 5,950 cm3. Its 800 Nm (590.0 lb-ft) of torque is available constantly between 1,300 and 5,000 rpm. Like the 4.0 TFSI, the twelve-cylinder engine features COD (cylinder on demand) technology. At low loads and engine speeds, it shuts down the left-hand cylinder bank to trim fuel consumption.

Comfort and stability: the power transmission

All engines in the A8 deliver their power to a newly developed eight-speed tiptronic. Not only does it change gear swiftly and smoothly; it also operates highly efficiently. An rpm-adaptive torsion damper (RTD) with a centrifugal force pendulum compensates for undesirable vibrations in the engine. This permits efficient driving from an engine speed range as low as 1,000 revolutions per minute.

The improved tiptronic is now for the first time equipped with an electric oil pump - it is activated whenever the large sedan is coasting with the engine off. As soon as the new A8 is coasting and its engine is either deactivated or idling, a clutch in the central transmission is disengaged to interrupt the power flow. For a faster buildup of pulling power, especially after coasting with the engine deactivated, the engineers in partnership with ZF optimized the engagement logic applied in the gearshift process.

The transmission control in the new A8 can for the first time recognize stop & go situations. It now modifies the driving strategy with the emphasis on comfort; for example, it avoids unnecessary gearshifts or starting in second gear. The driver can let the automatic transmission do the work automatically in the E, D and S modes, or can take charge of controlling it in M mode. Selector lever commands are all transmitted electrically.

quattro permanent all-wheel drive is standard in the new Audi flagship model. In normal driving conditions, its self-locking center differential distributes torque between the front and rear axle in a 40:60 ratio. If slip occurs at one axle, it directs up to 70 percent of the drive torque to the front and up to 85 percent to the rear. Handling benefits from wheel-selective torque control whenever a committed driving style is adopted. The intelligent software function brakes the two wheels on the inside of a bend slightly before they can begin to spin.

Customers can also choose the optional sport differential in conjunction with the two V6 and V8 engines as well as the W12. When cornering dynamically, this redistributes the torque between the rear wheels as required - enhancing traction, stability and dynamics. The driver can view a display of the percentage drive torque per wheel in the MMI of the new A8. Compared with the previous model, the sport differential is around one kilogram (2.2 lb) lighter and offers even faster, higher-precision control. Its management uses the latest generation of the electronic suspension platform (ESP) and is incorporated into the Audi drive select handling system. This allows the driver to experience a range of chassis settings in one and the same car. The operating principle of the participating systems can be set using the comfort, auto, dynamic, efficiency and individual modes.

In 2018, a particulate measuring sensor will also be introduced for specific markets. It determines the level of particulates in the ambient air and compares this reading with the air inside the A8. Filter efficiency is displayed on the on-board monitor - an important service especially for customers in urban areas.

The standard air quality sensor also detects harmful gases and activates recirculated air mode as necessary. The filter in the four-zone automatic air conditioning eliminates the bulk of these gases and particulates, and also neutralizes many allergens.


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