Audi's new flagship saloon will lock horns with the Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7 Series and Jaguar XJ.
After throwing out numerous teasers, and a special cameo appearance in the Spider-Man: Homecoming movie, Audi has finally taken the wraps off its latest flagship limousine - the A8. Unveiled in both standard and long wheelbase avatars, the latest generation A8 aims to further raise the bar that's already been set very high by its rivals like Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7 Series.
The design of the new Audi A8 draws heavy inspiration from the Audi Prologue concept which was showcased at the 2014 LA Auto Show. The new A8 marks a new design direction for the Volkswagen-owned luxury car-maker. The front of the new saloon is dominated by a huge grill, with a fresh approach towards its hexagonal design. The rear is also extremely distinctive from rest of the Audi range. The tail lamps are now connected by a long horizontal LED applique that runs through the boot-lid.
The new Audi A8 is 5,172mm long, 1,945mm wide and 1,473mm tall - which makes it 37mm longer, 4mm narrower and 13mm taller than the outgoing model. The India-bound A8L has a 130mm longer wheelbase which makes it 5,302mm long. The bodywork of the fourth-generation Audi A8 incorporates extensive use of materials such as aluminium, steel, carbon fibre and even magnesium.
The interior of the all-new A8 is designed to mimic a luxurious lounge. A clean dashboard with its centre console featuring two large screens - one 10.1-inch and other 8.6-inch - dominates the cockpit. The steering wheel design is also brand new. The new infotainment system uses the latest generation processor from NVIDIA, and Audi is betting this would greatly enhance the user interface.
Like most cars that fall under the Volkswagen group umbrella, the powertrain options on the new A8 are aplenty. These include a duo of 3.0-litre V6 petrol and diesel engines, a 4.0-litre V8 diesel and a flagship 6.0-litre W12 petrol with 585bhp on tap. Furthermore, another petrol and a petrol-hybrid will soon join the bandwagon with the yet to be released S8 and e-Tron versions. An 8-speed automatic transmission and Audi’s signature quattro AWD system will come standard on all versions.
The German company is also very proud of the new technology it has developed for its flagship saloon. This includes a new start-stop electrical system, which combines a 48-volt system and a belt-driven combination alternator, Audi aims to completely eliminate the frustrating delay in the conventional start-stop systems. This system also has sensors which monitor the car ahead to figure out when the engine needs to restart. The sensors are also capable of shutting the engine off as soon as the car hits 13mph (21km/h) while coming to a halt.
Another novelty feature in the new A8 is the Active Suspension, that automatically adjusts the suspension in anticipation of a pothole, thereby, offering better ride quality. The cameras on the Audi A8 aren’t just meant for ease of parking. They also help detect pothole and communicate to the four motors (one on each corner), which can press or lift the suspension itself. With the help of the camera, the computer controlled motors can sense imperfection on the road, and can raise the suspension up from the wheel which would go over the undulation, thus aiding the ride quality.
The active suspension is also designed to make the car safer for occupants. A host of sensors will be fitted around the new Audi A8. If these detect an upcoming side crash, the active suspension will raise up the vulnerable side of the A8 by 80mm within half a second, so that more energy from the impact is absorbed by the car’s side rails and floors.
Audi has developed an Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology which learns the driver's habits, likes, dislikes, and routes to make recommendations based on all the data. AI remote parking pilot and the AI remote garage are also present to operate the new A8 without any driver under certain conditions.
The fourth generation Audi A8 will go on sale in the final quarter of 2017, with the Indian launch expected sometime in 2018. As with the current generation model, expect Audi to only launch the longer A8 L version in India.