Today’s Audi Summit in Barcelona featured the world premiere of the new, fourth-generation Audi A8, which stands out with a new design language, an innovative touchscreen operating concept and a systematically electrified drive

Design
Once again offered in standard and long-wheelbase configurations, the latest Audi A8 sports a sophisticated yet muscular look defined by sharp new lines. Up front is a wide, upright Singleframe grille combined with striking HD Matrix LED headlights with Audi laser lighting. From the sides, the balanced proportions and large wheels emphasize stability and strength, while in the rear the OLED taillights produce unique light animations.

The interior of the 2019 Audi A8 2018 seeks to recreate a lavish, spacious lounge. In fact, compared to its predecessor, it has grown substantially in length and offers an extensive range of equipment and materials. Details are superb, from the perforation in the seat upholstery to the electrically opened and closed shutters on the air vents.

Of course, the rear seats remain the classiest and most comfortable, especially in the A8 L. The latter has an optional relaxation seat that comes with four different adjustment options and a footrest that can warm and massage the soles of your feet. The rear passengers can also control an array of functions such as ambient lighting, the new HD Matrix reading lights and seat massage, plus make private phone calls, via a separate operating unit. The rear seat remote, with its OLED display as large as a smartphone, is a removable unit housed in the centre armrest.

Technology
The new Audi A8 does away with the familiar rotary push-button and touchpad of the outgoing model. At its centre is a 10.1” touchscreen display which, when off, blends almost invisibly into the high-gloss black surround. The driver controls the infotainment system with fingertip control on the large display. They can use a second touchscreen display on the centre tunnel console to access the air conditioning and comfort functions as well as make text inputs. The combination of acoustic and tactile feedback along with the use of common touch gestures such as swiping make the new MMI touch response system especially safe, intuitive and quick to use, Audi claims.

The A8 can also engage in intelligent conversation. The driver can activate an array of functions in the automobile using a new, natural form of voice control. Information on destinations and media is either available on board or is delivered from the cloud at 4G LTE speed. Meanwhile, the available Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound system integrates the rear seats for the first time to create a richer 3D listening experience.

Driving
Audi says the new A8 is the first production automobile to have been developed specially for highly automated driving. From 2018, Audi will gradually be taking piloted driving functions such as remote parking assist, remote garage assist and traffic jam assist into production. That last one takes charge of driving in slow-moving traffic at up to 60 km/h on highways and roads separated by a physical barrier. The driver no longer needs to monitor the car permanently; they can take their hands off the steering wheel permanently and, depending on the national laws, focus on a different activity that is supported by the car. As soon as the system reaches its limits, it calls on the driver to take back control.

Those who do love driving will have a great time thanks to dynamic all-wheel steering, the sport differential with active torque distribution, quattro permanent all-wheel drive and Audi AI active suspension which can raise or lower each wheel separately.

As for powertrains, there will be a 3.0L turbocharged V6 rated at 340 horsepower, a 4.0L turbocharged V8 producing 460 horsepower and a 6.0L W12. All of them will operate in conjunction with a belt alternator starter, which is the nerve centre of the 48V electrical system. This mild hybrid technology enables the car to coast with the engine switched off and to restart smoothly. It also has an extended start/stop function and an energy recovery function.

The A8 L e-tron quattro plug-in hybrid model will follow at a later date, delivering a combined 449 horsepower and approximately 50 kilometres of pure electric range. It can optionally be charged by Audi Wireless Charging—essentially a pad in the garage floor that transfers the power inductively.

Further information about the new 2019 Audi A8 for the Canadian market will be announced in the coming months. We’ll keep you posted.