You see and read it first here: meet the all new Audi A8. We are currently in Barcelona to attend the 2017 Audi Summit where the new 2019 Audi A8 will be unveiled. We got the opportunity to be part of an exclusive sneak preview and were able to experience almost everything of the brand’s fourth generation flagship model a day before its official debut.
New lines and sharper edges
The A8 too, adopts Audi’s new design language with distinctive lines, sharp edges and a dynamic appearance. Starting with the front apron, the new A8 follows the trend with a wider grille giving it more road presence. If you look closely, it functions as the central stage where all adjoining lines come together. The larger and sharper edged headlights form an extension to the hexagonal singleframe grille, and we were told by the Audi design team that because of the wide grille the headlights were integrated diagonally in order to fit.
The A8’s more muscular side brings out the car’s large wheels and underline the Quattro drivetrain. The shoulder line handsomely extends into the car’s rear end, which is adorned by a large 8 mm LED strip across the entire width of the vehicle. The actual taillights are based on OLED technology and come to life vividly upon unlocking the car. The rear end in general slightly leans forward and makes the A8 look more dynamic. Depending on the variant, the A8 may feature trapezoidal exhaust tips integrated in its lower rear bumper. Finally the new A8’s luxury heritage is further accentuated through chrome accents and lines all around.
The new A8’s interior is something else
The chrome continues on the inside of the car, where the designers got to start with a clean sheet. The entire interior is based on brand new architecture with the goal to virtually eliminate all buttons and controls and create the ultimate minimalistic interior. Never was the interior of the Audi A8 this clean and sophisticated.
Emphasis is put on the horizontal design lines on the inside to highlight the car’s wealth of interior space. The inserts in the dashboard, doors and front seats are available in a variety of wood veneers and piano black, and present an aggregated picture. Upon closing the doors, there are barely any dividing lines visible. Another cool feature that was comprehensively demonstrated are the neatly integrated vents in the front dashboard. They automatically open or close using the touch sliders, further accentuating the cleanliness of the design.
The center of attention is a beautifully integrated 10.1-inch touch screen display that seamlessly integrates with the piano black dashboard. We were told that the designers aimed to make the screen appear as one with the dashboard so it would distract as little as possible while driving. The 10.1-inch display comprises all functionality of the infotainment system and car settings. We have played around with it and the response and speed of the new fully internet-based MMI system is impressive. There is also solid feedback, and it is impossible to hit a ‘blind spot’ between one of the menu items. It will always select a function and give both sensitive and acoustic feedback and thus avoid that drivers take their eyes off the road in order to touch the right area.
Below the infotainment display sits a 8.6-inch screen that extends into the mid-console. It serves several purposes such as climate control, seat heating, drive select and more. All of these settings can also be pre-configured for different seasons or even geographical areas. Another cool feature is the continuous handwriting module, which lets the driver write without needing to stop and take the finger off the surface so the focus can remain on the road. What’s more are three actual buttons beneath the lower screen that serve some of the car’s extensive safety and driver assistance systems.
With the A8 and the segment it operates in, comfort and rear seat space are a big deal. We sat down in the rear and immediately noticed the large flat display between both rear seats. It’s a full touch screen OLED display based on Android and can be taken out as a tablet. Rear seat passengers can control a range of options from music and seat massage to the car’s ambient lighting and foot massage. Yes, foot massage will be made available as an option and if you are interested in how that works, make sure to watch the brand new Spider Man movie.
The Android tablet screen is just as responsive as the screens in front of the car and is just as intuitive. We experimented with 30 different colors of ambient lighting divided over different segments. Each of the ambient lighting segments, from the roof to the lines in the dashboard and doors, can be individually modified. Screens in the front seats headrests are an option or standard on the top A8 L model.
A new Audi spaceframe brings all the space you need
Audi’s new lightweight construction four-material spaceframe is just as cutting edge as the rest of the car. It’s based on a mix of aluminum, steel, magnesium and carbon-fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP). The Audi A8 has now the biggest interior in its class, offering an extra 32 mm of space compared to its predecessor.
Plenty of power
All of the A8’s engines will include MHEV (Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle) technology based on the standard 48V electrical system. This technology allows for zero emission coasting for 40 seconds at a time and is simply needed to power the abundance of screens and electronic features of the new A8.
From launch in Europe, two V6 engines will be offered on the 2019 A8; a 3.0-liter V6 TDI with 286 horsepower (210 kW) and a 3.0-liter V6 TFSI with 340 hp (250 kW). For the first time Audi will also be offering an A8 L e-tron Quattro plug-in hybrid based on the V6 petrol, producing an impressive combined 449 hp (330 kW). Something else that is really cool: Audi will be offering a wireless charging platform for your car. You can put it in your garage and park your car on top of it; wait four hours and the battery is fully charged!
In a later stage Audi will also be offering two V8 engines. One of them is the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 TDI that we know from the SQ7. It produces 435 hp (320 kW), while the 4.0 TFSI V8 develops 460 hp (338 kW). Finally the range topping Audi A8L, which sports the longer wheelbase, will feature the mighty W12, which is good for 585 horsepower (430 kW). We asked about the Audi S8 and we can say with certainty that this variant is in the pipeline too. The Audi team was however not allowed to disclose any details regarding its output and unique design traits.
Every Audi A8 comes with Quattro all-wheel drive with a 40:60 front and rear ratio as standard. Power is diverted to all four wheels through a newly developed 8-speed tiptronic transmission. It comes with an electrical oil pump that is activated whenever the A8 is coasting with the engine off, and thanks to the MHEV system, the eco stop and go function now runs much more fluent.
Cruise in comfort: new Audi AI suspension
On top of air suspension, Audi will also be offering its new AI active suspension for an even smoother ride. AI suspension will be a standard feature on the W12 A8 L and offered as an option on the V6 and V8 models at launch. It is based on four individual electric motors that are situated near each wheel and ‘read’ the road surface. The new suspension setup creates further differences between dynamic and comfort driving modes and should enhance the overall safety of the passengers.
In the event of a lateral collision, the new suspension module can quickly raise one side of the car by 80 millimeters to present a more resistant impact zone. The AI suspension can only be specced in combination with Audi’s 360 pre-sense camera and radar package.
An impressive range of safety and driver assistance systems
The A8 will be Audi’s new parade horse when it comes to autonomous driving technology. The brand already introduced many novel technologies on the Audi Q7 e-tron back in 2015 and will now be extending its offering with three new Audi AI technologies. The first is the traffic jam pilot, which is based on level 3 autonomous driving. That is up a level from the autonomous driving pilots that we know from other brands, which require the driver to still pay attention to the steering wheel and road. Audi’s traffic jam pilot will completely take over and won’t require the driver to keep eyes on the road. The system can be engaged at speeds up to 60 km/h in congested traffic situations. A small camera makes sure to put out a warning sign once the driver is starting to fall asleep.
Just like on the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Audi now too offers a remote parking pilot on one of their vehicles. The new Audi A8 is capable of indepnedenlty parking itself in a variety of situations completely autonomous and without a driver inside. The driver can control the process through the myAudi app on their smartphone, which displays a 360 degrees camera view.
Finally there is the remote garage pilot, which is based on the same principle but also employs an innovative laser scanner in order to not damage the car or other property while parking. The laser scanner, a world’s first, is integrated in the car’s front bumper. It scans invisibly up to 80 meters ahead at a 145 degrees angle and recognizes everything, also enhancing the safety aspect.
Additionally there are twelve ultrasonic sensors on the front, sides and rear, four 360 degrees cameras on the front, rear and sideview mirrors, one front camera on the top edge of the windscreen, four mid-range radars at the vehicle’s corners, one long-range radar at the front and an infrared camera on the front for the night vision assist.
Altogether the extensive package of sensors and cameras enable a whopping 41 driver assistance systems, putting the Audi A8 right at the top of the industry. All assistance and safety systems are still grouped together in the known packages Park, City and Tour, and Tour. The Tour package will be standard in Germany and includes Audi Pre-sense safety features, adaptive driving assist, car-to-X connectivity based on the cloud, turn assist and collision avoidance assist among many others.
Audi will be releasing more details on their extensive range of new driving assistance systems next year, when the model will hit the market. The level 3 traffic jam assist won’t be available until 2019.
Final impression and conclusion
Our first experience with the 2019 Audi A8 was memorable. Our first impression of the car’s exterior design is positive, despite that its design was slightly predictable. Its face is much more pronounced and aggressive looking thanks to the brand new front grille. It absolutely stuns at the rear too, mainly thanks to the brilliant LED light strip across and the brand new OLED taillights.
We were most impressed by the car’s brilliant interior, a true revolution. It’s by far the most clean and intuitive interior that we have experienced so far and is completely focused on digitalization. We cannot wait to experience the true comfort of special features such as seat massage and the new suspension setup, which combines both air suspension and Audi’s new AI suspension. The new Audi A8 is a stunner by all means, and might just set the new benchmark in its class.