Mercedes-Benz and BMW have long dominated the premium limousine segment with their S-Class and G12 7 Series while the ageing Audi A8 D4 went under the radar in the presence of its high-tech rivals. Now, that is set to change with the all-new A8 D5.
Unveiled at the Audi Summit, Audi aims to set a new benchmark for its segment with an all-new design language, innovative touchscreen operations, electrified drivetrain and Level Three autonomous driving. But is it enough to go against the S-Class and 7 Series? Let’s find out.
Measuring at 5,172 mm in length, 1,945 mm in width, 1,473 mm in height and 2,998 mm in wheelbase, the new A8 has grown in every dimension (except width, -4 mm) compared to the model it replaces. The extended wheelbase version, A8 L, is 130 mm longer, 15 mm taller and sports a 130 mm longer wheelbase than the regular version. Underpinning the body of the A8 is a multi-material Audi Space Frame that boasts 24 percent stronger rigidity and higher refinement than the old model.
Audi’s design philosophy with the A8 was to express the brand’s renowned sporty appeal, lightweight construction and quattro permanent all-wheel drive. This in turn led to a balanced proportion design that equally emphasise all four corners of the car. The wide Singleframe grille conveys prestige while the strong bonnet lines oozes stance and masculinity. Roads are illuminated with Audi’s progressive Matrix LED headlamps with Audi Laser Light.
View the A8 from the side and one will notice a roofline that gently inclines towards the rear, almost like a fastback. Audi claims that this was a deliberate design to create propulsion visual effect to highlight the A8’s sporty appeal. Despite the tapering roofline, Audi says rear passenger headroom is not affected, in fact it has grown by some 20 millimetres. Moving to the rear and you will immediately notice the strong LED light strip connecting the two Organic LED taillamp housing that animates when activated.
Inside, Audi akins the interior of the A8 to a luxury lounge. Designers have adopted a clean and “less is more” concept which explains the minimalistic approach with less buttons. For starters, the 10.1-inch touchscreen display houses the infotainment system and when shut off, blends nicely into the gloss black surrounds.
Audi has also done away with the MMI controls and rotary dials and in its place is a second touchscreen panel which replaces all the main controls. It features touch gesture controls, acoustic and tactile feedback, making it safe and intuitive to use. Drivers can also activate an array of functions through voice control.
On A8 L models, occupants can enjoy a light-filled interior thanks to the two-piece panoramic sunroof. Tick the optional relaxation seats and the rear passengers will have a feet massager with heated function. Passengers can also control ambient lighting, reading lights, seat massage function and make private phone calls via a removable rear seat remote with the size of a smartphone.
As reported earlier, all variants of the A8 will feature some form of electrification and Audi has held onto their word. At launch, the A8 will be available with a 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel TDI and a 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 TFSI developing 282 hp and 335 hp respectively. Two turbocharged V8 engines – a 4.0-litre TDI with 429 hp and a 4.0-litre TFSI with 453 hp will join the line up in due course.
A range topping 6.0-litre W12 with 577 hp is also reportedly in the works. Each engine choice will feature mild hybridisation courtesy of a 48-volt primary electrical system to improve fuel economy. We have detailed the A8’s hybrid system in full here.
Audi also revealed that a plug-in hybrid variant of the A8 L will arrive at a later date. The A8 L e-Tron will feature quattro AWD and a 3.0-litre TFSI assisted by a powerful electric motor to deliver a total system output of 443 hp and a whopping 700 Nm of torque. The A8 L e-Tron is said to have a pure electric driving range of 50 km and can be charged via the Audi Wireless Charging pad.
Not forgetting that comfort is paramount to vehicles of this class, Audi has fitted the A8 with all-wheel steering and a clever Audi AI active suspension. The all-wheel steering turns the rear wheels ever so slightly to give greater stability and precision around bends. Audi’s active suspension system is able to vary the damping of each individual corner, helping the luxury saloon waft through undulations.
Also celebrating its world debut is the Audi AI traffic jam pilot which allows the A8 to drive itself autonomously in slow-moving traffic of up to 60 km/h. Dubbed as Level Three autonomous driving, the driver can completely take his/her attention off the road and the traffic jam pilot will manage acceleration, steering and braking. As soon as the car approaches the 60 km/h limit, it will warn the driver to reassume control of the vehicle.
A total of 12 exterior colours are available for the all-new Audi A8 and A8 L. All A8s are assembled at the Neckarsulm plant in Germany. Prices start from €90,600 (RM444k) while the A8 L starts from €94,100 (RM461k). It’s only a matter of time before the A8 makes its way here, though.
Audi A8 L
Audi A8 Detailed