Aluminium, lightweight, sharp-looking and very definitely quattro, the all-new fourth-gen Audi A8 announced today (July 11th) claims to be one of the most technically advanced luxury saloons on the planet - and possibly the only one where you can get a foot massage.
JUL 11th 2017
All‑new Audi A8 revealed – 11 things you need to know
The new limo, in the shops from October, is where Vorsprung durch Technik not only meets chiropody but also AI – artificial intelligence. Audi says its range of autonomous driving functions include a world-first traffic jam pilot that allows the driver to read the newspaper or watch TV at speeds up to 37mph. In theory at least: law enforcement agencies will have something to say if you try it…
A classic three-box saloon with wider, sharper new grille up front, full-width taillights behind and surfaces all pulled that bit tauter, the new rival for the BMW 7-Series and Mercedes S-Class is larger (37mm longer) and roomier than before. Here’s our whirlwind 11-point all-you-need-to-know…
1. The turning circle of 37.4 ft is tighter than an A4’s thanks to four-wheel steering. In time-honoured fashion, at low speeds, the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction to the fronts to aid manoeuvrability, while at high speeds they turn the same way to aid stability.
2. All A8s come with quattro all-wheel-drive as standard now.
3. The style inside is “reductive”. Buttons, Audi’s rotary controller and touchpad are no more – all so last year! Now it’s a digital user interface with touch-screen, gesture and voice control.
4. There is one button on the centre stack: AI. This turns on the traffic jam pilot that accelerates, steers and brakes the car autonomously in slow-moving (up to 37mph) traffic. Using a laser scanner, the system only works on roads where there is a physical barrier separating the carriageways. Audi says: “The driver can take their hands off the steering wheel permanently and watch the on-board TV.” But it warns: “The statutory framework will need to be clarified in each individual market” before it can be used. Be warned…
5. Park it by phone. Usable now is the AI remote garage pilot that allows you to autonomously steer the A8 into and out of a parking space using a smartphone.
6. As previewed by the Audi SQ7, the car comes with a 48-volt electrical system. This “mild hybrid” set-up facilitates an alternator/starter motor, energy recovery system and engine-off coasting as well as powering the new active suspension system.
7. There’s a 48-volt electric motor for each wheel in what Audi calls AI active suspension. The car’s cameras scan the road ahead for potholes and adjust the air-sprung suspension at each corner of the car accordingly, as well as offering what Audi says is “an utterly new driving experience” in delivering both sports and comfort modes.
8. The electromechanical suspension also lifts the body three inches in half a second if the car is about to be T-boned, so the car’s sills and floor take more of the impact.
9. The flagship model is the A8 powered by the group’s 6.0-litre W12 engine with 576bhp. Biggest sellers will be 3.0-litre V6 petrol (335bhp) and diesel (282bhp) units, but there’s also V8 power, up to 454bhp in the petrol 4.0-litre TFSI.
10. There’s no full hybrid version – yet. The plug-in A8 L e-tron quattro with V6 petrol and electric motor (system output: 443bhp and 516 lb ft) arrives later. It can drive up to 31 miles on electric power alone.
11. As before, there’s a long-wheelbase A8 L version stretched by 130mm. Not like before, the L comes with a rear ‘relaxation seat’ with massage system – not just for your back but also built into the footrests so the soles of your feet get a work-out too. Wish we’d had that for the ride home after FOS this year!
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