Audi has just unveiled the new 2018 Audi A8 in Barcelona at the first ever Audi Summit, and it doesn’t disappoint with numerous features that make this updated flagship model stand out from the rest.
As was expected, after what feels like months of teasing and close-up shots of headlights or design elements, we’ve finally got a complete look at the all-new Audi A8 at the Audi Summit in Barcelona. It is largely what we expected, with the exception of a few intriguing features and design touches that will make Audi’s flagship raise the bar for luxury saloons.
With two models on display, the Audi A8 and the Audi A8 L, the carmaker presents the future of the luxury class. In its fourth generation, the brand’s flagship model again provides the benchmark for Vorsprung durch Technik – with a new design language, an innovative touchscreen operating concept and a systematically electrified drive. The Audi A8 is also the first production automobile in the world to have been developed for highly automated driving. The passengers benefit from the increased dimensions – the Audi A8 L is longer than the standard version and has a 13 centimetre (5.1 inch) longer wheelbase.
Although both models will be available by the end of 2017, the Audi AI functions such as parking pilot, garage pilot and traffic jam pilot will be brought to the car in early 2018 – the slow rollout of the features is commonplace in the motoring world as data is collected by the car to ensure that the features are entirely safe for customers to use before deploying an over-the-air software update for the car.
The Audi A8 is stylistically defining – it signals the dawning of a new design era for the entire brand. The front end with the wide, upright Singleframe grille and the fluid, muscular body symbolize sporty elegance, sophistication and progressive status.
"The Audi AI button will become more and more powerful over time."
The Audi brand is renowned worldwide for sports appeal, lightweight construction and quattro permanent all-wheel drive – and the design of the new A8 conveys these values. Muscular shapes above the wheel arches give visual expression to the quattro drive. Viewed side-on, the upright front end combined with the gently inclined rear give the car a feeling of luxury before you even get inside. The flagship model is identifiable both in the daytime and at night, drawing on both the striking HD Matrix LED headlights with Audi laser lighting, and the LED light strip combined with OLED technology rear lights. An idea that was present in the Audi Q8 concept has been brought to the A8 with headlights that have unique light animations as the driver approaches and leaves the car.
Audi wants the driver and passengers of the new Audi A8 to feel the freedom that the new model offers. It’s for this reason that the company is referring to the interior of the flagship as a ‘lounge’.
The range of equipment and materials is extensive, with every detail radiating superlative bespoke quality – from the perforation in the seat upholstery to the electrically opened and closed shutters on the air vents.
The classiest seat in the new Audi flagship model is in the rear left [note: this is currently shown as the rear right for the left-hand drive model]. This is the optional relaxation seat in the A8 L that comes with four different adjustment options and a footrest. In this seat, the passenger can warm and massage the soles of their feet on a unit with multiple settings incorporated into the back of the front-passenger seat. The new comfort head restraints complete the experience.
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.
The new A8 comes with a radically new operating system that runs off a customised version of Android. The company’s high quality standards also apply to this new operating concept, which allows them to do away with the familiar rotary pushbutton and touchpad of the predecessor model. The instrument panel is kept largely clear of buttons and switches, replaced by a central 10.1-inch touchscreen display which, when off, blends almost invisibly into the high-gloss black surround thanks to its black-panel look.
There is even a second touchscreen display on the centre console to access the air conditioning and comfort functions as well as make text inputs. When the driver activates a function in the upper or lower display, they hear and feel a click by way of confirmation. The glass-look operating buttons respond in the same way. The combination of acoustic and tactile feedback along with the use of common touch gestures such as swiping make the new ‘MMI touch response’ especially safe, intuitive and quick to use.