2018 Audi A8 price, specs and release date
New Audi A8 luxury car revealed
Improved performance and efficiency
First ever use of level 3 autonomous driving tech
All-wheel steering improved stability and manoeuvrability
Audi has pulled the covers from the latest A8 – its luxury car competitor to the Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7 Series. Its new model wades into battle with subtly evolved styling, enhanced performance and efficiency, along with the first production application of level 3 autonomous driving tech.
Audi A8 styling
If you saw the old A8, the new one won’t look like much of a departure. It’s still defined by long, muscular bodywork with a crease that along the lower edge of the doors serving to break up the metalwork. The roof is quite curved but there should be more than enough room for six footers to sit in the back in comfort.
The front has a wide front grille with pointed headlights either side. The brakelights are now joined by an LED strip that stretches over the boot lid, serving to enhance the visual width of the rear. Beyond that, it’s quite understated with handsome styling but few chintzy details detracting from the overall look.
Audi A8 interior
Luxury cars live or die on their interiors and the A8 makes a good case for itself. The cabin is refreshingly button-free and, for the first time on an Audi, the physical climate controls have been replaced by a lower touchscreen that, combined with the Virtual Cockpit and standard MMI infotainment display, means there are three separate screens in the front cabin. Buttons on the touchscreen are made easier to use with the inclusion of touch feedback – a small vibration through the screen giving the impression of a physical button – while the lower screen can be used to spell out words and destinations using your finger.
The back is still the best place to sit, however. Rear passengers are treated to enormous amounts of leg and headroom along with a centre armrest that’s bristling with controls handling the seat massagers, phone calls, infotainment functions and even a LED reading light. You can fit an optional relaxation seat to the long-wheelbase A8L version – this includes a footrest attached to the back of the front seat that can heat and massage your feet at the touch of a button.
Unsurprisingly, there’s loads of tech on display and behind the scenes. Audi claims the voice recognition software is now much more intelligent, allowing owners to control functions with a more natural conversational tone. The sat-nav uses information downloaded over the car’s built-in mobile internet connection combined with traffic sign recognition and Audi’s own data from its fleet to devise the smartest route possible at a given time. The sat-nav can also learn based on the driver’s behaviour to further optimise routes.
Audi A8 driving and engines
The headline feature of the new A8 is its level 3 autonomous driving functions – like other executive cars it can steer, accelerate and brake itself through traffic where the opposing lane is separated by a central divider at speeds of up to 37.3mph. Where it differs from other systems is that it doesn’t need you to actively monitor its progress by keeping your hands on the wheel – you are able to take your eyes off the road and do something else while the car takes care of everything. Should you be required to take over, the car will sound a series of alarms to notify you. Similar systems permit the A8 to enter and leave parking spaces on its own via the use of a smartphone app without the driver even being seated in the car.
Whether you or the computer is driving, the A8 will stay comfortable thanks to new active air suspension. This system ensures optimum comfort at all times or, at the flick of a switch, can be set to hunker the car to the road surface for a more sporty driving experience. There’s also four-wheel steering that enables the car to be more stable at high speeds and more manoeuvrable at low speeds which, combined with the sports rear differential and standard all-wheel drive, generates enormous levels of grip in all driving conditions.
Entry-level models use either 3.0-litre V6 petrol or diesel engines with 340 and 286hp respectively. More powerful models will use V8 petrol or diesel engines for up to 460hp or, if you’re looking at top-of-the-range models, a W12 petrol engine will feature in A8L models. An e-tron plug-in hybrid model will use a 3.0-litre petrol V6 mated to an electric motor for a total of 449hp – despite the great performance, it can rely on battery power alone to cover 31.1 miles and can be recharged wirelessly from an inductive charging pad fitted to your garage floor.
Audi A8 price and release date
Audi says the A8 will cost from €90,600 in Europe – roughly £80,000 in the UK, a big jump compared to the £65,000 entry-level price of the old model.
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