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New Audi A8 tech fest turns up the heat on 7-series and S-class

Stuart Gallagher
11 Jul 2017

Audi has lifted the covers on its new luxury flagship, the Audi A8. And it’s packed with next generation technology

Audi has lifted the covers on its new luxury flagship, the Audi A8. And it’s packed with next generation technology

Audi has chosen the 2017 Audi Summit in Barcelona to reveal the new A8 saloon, its most sophisticated and technologically advanced car ever. The car is scheduled to make its public debut at the Frankfurt motor show in September and UK deliveries are scheduled to begin at the end of the year with prices expected to start below £70,000.

With claims of class leading autonomous technology, a new lightweight architecture and high levels of efficiency, Audi says that much of what we see today in the new A8 will also filter down to the rest of the company’s future model lines. Crucially, this fourth-generation A8 will also have the technology to rival both the BMW 7-series and Mercedes-Benz S-class.

Audi A8: Machinerynical Highlights

Both short and long wheelbase configurations of the new Audi A8 are longer than the models they replace by 37mm. The wheelbase is also extended and Audi’s design team has worked hard to give the company’s limo an aggressive new look - primarily through a muscular and aggressive front grille,

Across this fourth-generation Audi A8 range, every model will use an electrified powertrain thanks to the adoption of a 48-volt circuit. However, anyone who read that and is expecting the next Audi S8 to field a twin-turbo V8 paired with a torque-boosting electric motor will be disappointed; For now, at least.

As ‘mild’ hybrids, the new A8 models will benefit from greater fuel economy and increased refinement, with the technology deployed to help Audi close the gap between its flagship saloon and Mercedes’ S-class

Performance, alas, is not the name of the game this time. Although we do expect the 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 that features in the forthcoming Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-hybrid to find its way behind the A8’s new grille sooner rather than later. 

The electrical system consists of a 48-volt belt-alternator starter with a lithium-ion battery stored in the car’s boot that is claimed to allow it to coast for up to 40 seconds at time and offer assistance when the A8 is in slow moving traffic or pulling away from a standstill. Alone this is claimed to improve fuel consumption by 2.5mpg. While the benefits it brings are subtle, they will help Audi become more competitive at the apex of the luxury sector.

Inside the new A8 there is a cleaner design with a more integrated infotainment and control system. There is a 10.5-inch screen within the facia and another 8.6-inch display that controls the heating and ventilation.

Underpinning the new A8 is a new aluminium structure that utilises the latest lightweight materials and construction methods to reduce the car’s overall body-in-white weight. Suspending all this will be the latest adaptive chassis technology, which will allow the A8 to ‘read’ the road ahead and adjust the electromechanically actuated suspension according to the surface. It will also reduce both body roll in corners and pitch during acceleration and braking, depending on the route.

With rear wheel steering said to make the new A8 as agile and as nimble as a current A4, Audi is going all out to make its new limo as good to drive as it is to be driven in.

For those who prefer to be driven but can’t stretch to a driver, the new A8 will also be the most autonomous Audi yet. Utilising Audi’s Piloted Drive software it will allow – where legislation permits – for fully autonomous driving of up to 37mph and Level 3 ‘continual automation’ autonomy. However, this level of autonomous driving does require a barrier between traffic flows and for the driver to be able to take control of the car within eight to ten seconds.

Engines, performance and 0-60mph 

Despite the current appetite for diesel engines being on a par with those willing to form a UK Brexit strategy, the dirty fuel will dominate the A8 engine line up. The 282bhp 3.0-litre V6 TDi will be the mainstay of the range (in the UK at least) with the 429bhp 4.0-litre V8 turbodiesel and a 335bhp V6 bi-turbo 3.0-litre V6 petrol turbo providing a supporting role.

All three will offer some form of electric driving and a full-on plug-in A8 L e-tron with a 3.0-litre turbocharged six combined with an electric motor will also be available, offering 443bhp and 516lb ft of torque with an EV driving range of circa 30 miles. Expect a V8 petrol engine to also join the line up along with the latest development of the W12 petrol engine. Later in the model’s life cycle we expect an S8 to arrive featuring running gear from the new Panamera Turbo S.

 

All A8s will only be offered with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, with quattro four-wheel drive also available across the majority of trim levels.

Price and on sale date 

Audi has yet to announce prices for the new A8, but expect them to start in the UK below £70,000 with the order book scheduled to open in September when the car makes its public debit at the Frankfurt in September. 

 

 

 

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