Audi A8 2017: prices, specs and reviews
Critics praise the saloon’s excellent cabin and easy-to-access interior tech
Audi’s new A8 flagship saloon is due to hit showrooms at the end of the year and is already proving a hit with the critics.
The firm says the new saloon - a rival to the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes S-Class - is its most advanced car to date. The new A8 has Level 3 autonomous technology that transfers some of the driving responsibilities to the vehicle.
It's expected to launch later this year with several diesel and petrol engines, all of which are set to feature some form of electric power.
Here's everything you need to know about the new A8.
One of the standout features is reworked styling, which signals a new design direction for the German car-maker.
Audi has given the car a sportier look, with lower shoulder lines along the sides and a sharper headlight design for a more muscular appearance. The sloping rear window has been styled to mimic that of a sleek coupe.
The tail light cluster has also been redesigned and now runs across the entire rear-end of the car. The lights themselves are OLED to give a 3D effect.
Level 3 autonomy and tech
Audi says it is the first automaker to bring Level 3 driverless tech to the consumer market. Level 3 allows cars to "monitor the driving environment around them" and "make decisions buy themselves", says Wired.
One of the key new systems is the Traffic Jam Pilot, which AutoExpress says let the A8 "start, accelerate, steer and brake on any road where there is a central barrier between traffic directions".
It can be operated at speeds of up to 37mph, although UK laws may need to change before it can be legally used on public roads.
There are also Remote Parking Pilot and Remote Garage Pilot systems, Autocar reports, which can both be operated "from outside the car using a smartphone."
The car's underpinnings have been revamped to improve the ride comfort and handling, too. Sensors monitor the road surface at 18 times per second to alter the suspension settings, reducing the effect of potholes and speed bumps.
This is joined by a new rear-wheel steering system aimed at improving the A8's turning circle to make navigating sharp turns and parking easier.
The new A8 is the first Audi vehicle to be constructed from a hybrid of four materials - aluminium, steel, magnesium and carbon fibre.
Audi Engineers say the car's architecture had to be designed to be as light and strong as possible to minimise the effect of the weight increase from the interior and driverless technology.
Approximately 58 per cent of the structure is made from aluminium, a popular metal in vehicle design that's currently used on the most recent range of Jaguar Land Rover cars. The strut brace, part of the suspension system, is made from magnesium, saving 28 per cent of weight over the previous model.
It also comes with a carbon fibre panel between the cabin and boot, allowing Audi to increase legroom for passengers in the rear without affecting luggage space.
Autocar says the new space frame will lead to a 24 per cent improvement in "dynamic stiffness", so "handling, steering and refinement" should be better over the old model.
Diesel engines will "dominate" the line-up, says Evo, despite their drop in popularity across Europe.
The range kicks-off with a 282bhp 3.0-litre V6 TDi, with a "429bhp 4.0-litre V8 turbodiesel and a 335bhp V6 bi-turbo 3.0-litre V6 petrol turbo" available further up the range. All three "will offer some form of electric driving".
These are joined by a plug-in hybrid A8 L e-tron that offers a 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine paired to an electric motor.
AutoExpress says wireless charging will become available on the e-tron model, where graphics on the infotrainment display help drivers align the car with a charging pad.
A V8 petrol is expected to become available after launch, while Audi says it is developing a W12 motor to join the range at a later date.
The first thing drivers will notice when stepping inside the new A8 is its superb build quality, says Autocar. The car feels as if it’s been built to “outlast civilisation itself”.
The switchgear is clearly high spec, says the magazine, and the two touchscreen displays respond instantly to user inputs. However, the A8’s cabin doesn’t have quite the same level of “charismatic elegance” as its rival the Mercedes S-Class.
The saloon’s two touchscreens are “easy to access” while on the move, says Auto Express. Each virtual button is clear enough to read at a glance, allowing you to “keep your eyes on the road for longer”.
Both displays are located in the centre console and are stacked on top of each other. The top screen comes with haptic feedback, the magazine says, as well as “smartphone-style pinch and swipe functions for the navigation and media”.
The bottom touchscreen panel can be used to input text when searching for navigation destinations, says Auto Express. It replaces Audi’s old circular MMI controller touchpad.
Behind the wheel, Car magazine says, the new A8 boasts an “excellent” driving position, while visibility blind spots are handled by a 360-degree camera system. There’s also a sensor that issues an alert if the driver is about to kerb the wheels.
Buyers should opt for the 3.0-litre petrol motor, the magazine says, as it feels “refined” and “happily revs cleanly to 7000rpm”. By comparison, although the diesel variant is “rapid” under acceleration, the motor feels a bit “gruff” under power.
Price and release
Orders for the new A8 are due to open in December, reports Autocar. Prices for the entry-level A8 50 TDI start at £69,100.
This puts the flagship saloon right in the middle of its core rivals – the £67,940 BMW 730d xDrive and the £72,205 Mercedes S-Class 350d AMG Line – says the magazine.