Audi has just revealed UK prices and technical specs of its new A8 flagship before the car reaches customers at the beginning of 2018. The new luxury saloon not only brings forth a new design language and interior, but also the biggest step-change in user-interface and autonomous driving technology in recent Audi history.
Starting at £69,100, the new A8 will go on sale in both standard A8 and long-wheelbase A8L forms with two turbocharged 3-litre V6 engine choices in petrol and diesel forms respectively. The entry-level TDI will boast 282bhp, while the petrol TFSI has 335bhp. Audi will eventually widen the engine range, with a 429bhp 4-litre V8 twin-turbo diesel and 6-litre W12 too.
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All engines will be connected to an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox and quattro all-wheel drive. Audi’s 48V electrical system will also be standard across the range, allowing for engine-off coasting and a more efficient start-stop system.
If mild-hybrid is not quite enough for you, Audi will also offer an e-tron plug-in hybrid model combining a 3-litre turbocharged V6 engine with an electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack to produce 442bhp, 516lb ft of torque and an electric range of up to 31 miles from a single charge.
In-line with other manufacturers, Audi will launch the e-tron model with fast charging capability, as well as under-car wireless charging via an induction plate which will need to be installed in your drive or garage.
All models will ride on adaptive air suspension, while Audi’s predictive comfort suspension system with variable anti-roll bars will be an option. Four-wheel steering will also be available on the options list.
Audi A8: Technical 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-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 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.