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All about the A8

by CAR magazine on 01/12/2009

Comments: 0

The battle for the grand saloon crown between the German big three continues with the all-new Audi A8 making its international début at a preview just ahead of the Los Angeles Auto Show this week. The new generation A8 goes head to head against the latest generation BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz’s facelifted S-Class.

The all-aluminium body is built according to the Audi Space Frame ethos, which was introduced on the very first A8 in 1994 and allows for enhanced driving dynamics thanks to an improvement in torsional stiffness. A composite material used in the aluminium panels throughout has allowed for a weight saving of seven kg.

The A8 doesn’t deviate much from the generic design language we’ve come to expect from Ingolstadt – with a chrome-edged single-frame radiator grille prominently displayed up front, with a few harder angles and lines to show off the new bumpers and bonnet for good measure. The jury’s still out on what the stylists have done with the newly-designed full-LED daytime driving lights through… At 5 137 mm, the A8 sure casts a long profile, but with a wheelbase just short of 3 000 mm and a width of 1 949 mm this should reflect generously on interior room.

The A8 is powered by a reworked version of the company’s 4,2-litre V8 with direct injection that now produces 273 kW and 445 N.m of torque at 3 500 r/min. Mated with a new eight-speed tiptronic transmission and quattro all wheel drive, Audi claims the new A8 sprints from zero to 100 km/h in 5,7 seconds and on to an electronically-limited top speed of 250 km/h.

The Audi drive select system is standard, which includes settings for the adaptive air suspension, engine, transmission and speed-dependent servotronic steering system, to provide the optimal compromise between dynamic precision and supreme comfort in one of three settings “comfort”, “auto” and “sport” modes. The driver may also personalise each of these settings in a fourth mode according to individual tastes.

At night the mood of the A8′s interior is set by ambient light thanks to multi-colour LEDs that are adjusted via the vehicle’s MMI system. Comforts include start-top, improved multifunction steering wheel, automatic air-conditioning, enhanced multimedia system, 12 way electric adjustment on the front seats (the comfort seats offer 22 way adjustability), heated seats, electric blinds and 510 dm3 of luggage space.

Safety specification includes adaptive restraint systems and the advanced new Audi pre-sense system that analyses information from the ESP sensors, and when it detects maximum brake application or skidding, it automatically activates the hazard warning lights and closes the side windows and sunroof – the system also tensions the front seatbelts.

An expanded level of this system (pre sense plus) monitors traffic in front of the A8 and sounds a warning before the car automatically decelerates and supports the driver’s braking with the precise amount of pressure needed. Further levels include automatic braking and brake pressure that ranges from initial deceleration to maximum stopping power. Other safety features include adaptive cruise control with stop/start, Audi side assist (which warns the driver of cars in the A8′s close proximity during lane change manoeuvres and when the A8 moves onto a line in the road without signalling.

The new Audi A8 should reach South Africa in the second half of 2010.

  • Patrick

    Bring on the V12TDI version!!!

  • Divesh

    I feel they should have gone a lot more aggressive in the styling, something along the lines of Jag XF or new XJ, this looks too generic. If people want to buy a bland looking exec saloon they will go and buy an S Class. Audi trying to take them on by doing the same is pointless. This looks far too similar to the current A8 for me. Design fail in my opinion.

  • dan

    I agree. I love Audis and was anticipating an awesome, new design, but i think Audi is starting to slip. It is simply a cross between the old A8 and the new A4. Bad. At least the old A8 felt bit more sporty. This one has a boot as droopy as a Rolls. It shouts OLD MAN!!

  • Andre van der Merwe

    I can only assume that the old A8 “felt” a bit more sporty because you actually own one. How can people judge a car before they have tested it or even seen it in the flesh so to speak. Also this is the A8……target market is not for 20 year old racers even though it can clearly keep up. The customer interested in this vehicle wants a classy feel. If he wanted the sporty fell he would have looked at the RS4 or M3 or AMG63. I think the car is spot on for the potential customer in this market segment. I don’t think we would get it even if Audi did make one, but surely there will be an RS8 at some point. Agreed about the V12TDI.