Audi has officially revealed the all-new A8 at a special event held in Barcelona. Hoping to take on the likes of the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the refreshed car incorporates design and styling elements seen on the Audi Prologue concept car from 2014.
The fourth generation version of the German manufacturer’s flagship model also grows both longer and taller than the outgoing A8 – 37 mm longer and 13 mm taller to be precise.
And like the current model, which launched in the UK back in 2009, the luxury saloon will continue to be offered in two different lengths; for 2017, there will be a 5.17-metre ‘standard’ model as well as the A8 L, which has a 13 centimetre longer wheelbase.
Audi is also claiming that its new A8 is the first production car in the world to have been developed for highly automated driving. From 2018, piloted driving functions will gradually enter into production; these are set to include parking pilot, garage pilot and traffic jam pilot.
Employing what is claimed to be the first laser scanner on a production car, the latter takes charge of driving in slow-moving traffic at up to 37 mph on major roads where a physical barrier separates the two carriageways. The system, which is activated using the “AI” button on the centre console, manages starting, accelerating, steering and braking.
Audi engineers even claim the driver 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, such as watching the on-board TV. As soon as the system reaches its limits, it calls on the driver to take back control of driving.
In terms of power, the new A8 will make its debut with two reengineered V6 turbo engines: a 3.0 TDI and a 3.0 TFSI. The diesel develops 282 bhp, and the petrol version 335 bhp. An eight-cylinder TDI – a 4.0-litre with 429 bhp – will follow slightly later. The exclusive top engine version is the W12 with a displacement of 6.0 litres.
The A8 L e-tron quattro with its plug-in hybrid drivetrain will follow at a later date: Its 3.0 TFSI engine and electric motor achieve 442 bhp of system power and 516.3 lb-ft of system torque. Audi claims the lithium-ion battery stores enough power for about 31 miles of electric driving. It can optionally be charged by wireless charging.
The new A8 and A8 L are currently being built at the Neckarsulm plant in Germany and will be appearing on UK roads in late 2017.