There were many advance laurels. But does the new Audi top model also live up to what is expected of it? And can it stand up to the luxury competitors of Mercedes and BMW? After the first test drives, there is only one answer: yes, yes! Small restrictions reserved.
Audi should slowly say goodbye to the mechanical and somehow backward-looking slogan of "advantage through technology". Because it is primarily the digitally rooted future technologies that assign the new A8 to what is probably the highest intelligence quotient in the circle of new automotive developments. An intelligence that should sometimes exceed that of its driver, because it can neither tire nor misjudge situations, but decides, acts and intervenes incredibly reliably with laser and sensor control in a fraction of a second. If the driver wants it! So no paternalism, but assistive assistance.
The traffic jam pilot brings us closer to autopiloted driving
During our test drives, we thought we were just a few steps away from an automotive future that will offer us autopiloted driving, but must not completely eliminate the fun of driving and accelerating independently. But honestly: As much as we surrendered to the elementary G-forces on the winding roads around Valencia, longitudinally and transversely, a traffic jam pilot is a fine thing if you take a freeway instead of the annoying braking and starting and not punishing yourself can only dedicate to the smartphone for a few seconds or simply lean back and relax. Initially, however, only up to 60 km / h, which should still be a hell of a pace in the concertina effect of a traffic jam. Unfortunately, the traffic jam pilot is present in the new A8, but it is only activated when the legislator has given his blessing. That should be the case in 2018. There are also automatic driving functions such as the parking pilot and the garage pilot (already available from BMW).
There is no contradiction between the fact that active SELF-DRIVING in the new A8 is so much fun on the one hand and the electronic assistants who have apparently flown in from the future have now reached a level of maturity that makes autopiloted driving visible on the horizon. No matter how many laser scanners and sensors are installed: As long as we cannot beam to our destination like good Captain Kirk, we will be rolling on four wheels over good and bad roads. How pleasant and safe it feels in the A8, how far the physical limits are (apparently) shifted, can be attributed to the excellent air spring suspension, which is controlled by electric servomotors and instantly responds to any bumps with electricity from a 48-volt electrical system. With this, Audi undoubtedly occupies the pole position of dynamic driving performance, which the A8 (currently) cannot contest either a Mercedes S-Class or a BMW 7 Series.
The design is more evolution than revolution
The qualitative properties of the chassis are not only expressed in terms of driving comfort, but also in terms of safety. Because it not only dampens bad roads smoothly, but also recognizes an impending side impact and raises the vehicle by eight (!) Centimeters within half a second. This protects the occupants by directing an intruding body onto the high-strength lower parts of the chassis.
Whether Audi has made a design leap with the new A8 as claimed leaves room for doubt. The fact that the single-frame grill has now grown can at best be described as an evolutionary development, not a revolutionary leap. However, the details were refined and polished with a lot of love, which together create a modern perception. It does not have to be a disadvantage that the A8 has remained roughly optically an A8 with all formal fine-tuning. Maybe design boss Marc Lichte has too high the expectations with the design concept "Prologue", which now (cannot) correspond XNUMX% with the reality produced.
What did we once blaspheme about the "mouse cinema"?
The formal design leap into the future can be seen especially in the interior. Three large screens, two of which are highly sensitive touchscreens, and the digital cockpit in 4K resolution behind the steering wheel, are undoubtedly a novelty in terms of cockpit design: almost no more buttons, but fast-reacting, touch-sensitive sensor fields that can be used to control all important functions. And if the flood of information in the cockpit is not enough for you, you can also have it projected onto the windshield via a head-up display. And 30 years ago at Audi we blasphemed about a tiny “mouse cinema” ...
The A8 is basically a mild hybrid
To talk about the quality of workmanship would be to go to Ingolstadt. But to see how elegantly a cover moves slowly over the ventilation blinds when the driver wants to reduce the amount of fresh air is impressive. It is these details that make the demand for maximum comfort clear. This also includes the staging of the OLED rear lights, which are automatically dimmed at the traffic lights so that the person behind is not dazzled.
The Audi A8 55 TFSI with our V6 that we drove convinced with its sonorous, very pleasant sound, high turning ability and constantly available performance even from the engine speed cellar. The maximum torque of 500 Newton meters is available from 1370 revolutions / min. The limousine, which weighs almost two tons, is so agile that more power is not actually necessary. In the pipeline there are further engines up to the 12-cylinder with 585 hp and a plug-in hybrid with a system output of 449 hp. The version we drove is also considered a mild hybrid, because a belt starter generator ensures a more efficient energy budget and, for example, long phases of "sailing" with the engine switched off are possible. Nothing is felt when the engine is restarted; the mild hybrid system is said to save 0,7 liters of fuel.
Conclusion: In its 8th generation, the new A4 is undoubtedly the pinnacle of technology in the direction of autopiloted driving. In terms of driving dynamics, the A8 raises the bar to a very high level, which seamlessly combines previously seemingly incompatible criteria between sporty dynamics and comfortable standards. It remains to be seen how the new Audi will perform against its competitors in the market. Its technological substance is probably the best at the moment and nothing else.
Technical data Audi A8 55 TFSI (3.0): four-door luxury class sedan, length: 5,17 meters, width: 1,95 meters, height: 1,47 meters, wheelbase: 2,99 meters, empty weight: 1.920 kilograms, trunk volume: 505 liters, tank capacity: 72 liters, engine: six-cylinder gasoline engine, displacement 2.995 ccm, 340 hp at 5.000 - 6400 rpm, maximum torque 500 Newton meters between 1.370 and 4.500 rpm, quattro all-wheel drive, 8-stage Tiptronic, 0 up 100 km / h: 5,6 seconds, top speed: 250 km / h, combined standard consumption: 7,5 liters / 100 km, combined CO2 emissions: 178 g / km, Euro 6; Base price: 90.600 euros, long version 94.100.