How much fancy tech can Audi shove into the 2019 Audi A8? – CNET

Posted: Tuesday, July 11, 2017

As much as Audi may not like to admit it, the big-body A8 has occasionally played second fiddle to the likes of the BMW 7 Series and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. These two historic nameplates were recently refreshed with a whole bunch of new kit, but Audi isn’t content to stand in the background anymore. This time, it’s trying to leapfrog the whole damn group.

One big grille and three massive screens

From the outside, it’s clear you’re dealing with a whole new beast. The A8 is totally redesigned, with nearly 90 percent of the front end covered by a new, massive hexagonal grille. The headlights take up another 8 percent. Out back, the taillights are joined together with a long strip of both chrome and more taillight. It’s a bit like a Lincoln Continental, a comparison I’m sure Audi will love to hear.

Take one look inside, and it’s clear you’re staring down the future. The dashboard is low and wide, and there’s barely a physical switch to be seen — there are not one, not two, but three screens. There’s a screen where the gauge cluster used to be, and a new version of Audi’s MMI infotainment system lives inside the second screen. Just under the infotainment system is the third screen, which takes over climate control duties and acts as a writing pad for the infotainment. Since the two center-stack screens are touch-capable, there’s no need for a physical controller to take up more dashboard space.

The second row is equally, if not more, impressive on the long-wheelbase A8L. An executive rear seat setup packs a wide removable touchscreen controller between the seats, and there’s enough room back there for an elephant. There’s also a foot massager. Really.

More tech than you can shake a stick at

Audi wanted to make sure the 2019 A8 could go toe-to-toe with the other Germans on the technological front, and it succeeded.

On some models — it’s unclear when it’s coming to the US — the 2019 A8 will be capable of Level 3 semi-autonomous driving. The system can take control of the vehicle on highways with a physical barrier separating oncoming traffic, at speeds up to 37 mph. It’ll take care of starting, steering, accelerating and braking. It will give the driver plenty of warning when it’s his or her turn to take the wheel once again.

It’ll also be capable of parking itself, whether in a parking space or a garage. The driver can stand outside the car and engage the system from a smart device, with camera feeds beamed directly to the user’s screen for careful monitoring of the situation.

As we mentioned before, every Audi A8 will come with a 48-volt mild hybrid system, which delivers extra juice to the electromechanical suspension. It also packs an extended stop-start function, as well as regenerative braking. It can also coast with the engine off, further increasing efficiency.

Its suspension system comes paired with cameras that monitor the road ahead and can command the suspension to soften up over bumps. Electric motors actuate the air suspension to soften or firm up at a millisecond’s notice. It can also raise the car up if there’s a side collision to help mitigate any chance of injury, by deflecting the blow to the strongest parts of the chassis.

The car also packs vehicle-to-x communication capabilities, although it only appears limited to traffic sign recognition and hazard information for the time being.

Good riddance, bulky MMI rotary dial.


Audi

Hustle in many forms

In Europe, the 2019 Audi A8 is available with an embarrassment of powertrains. There’s a 286-horsepower 3.0-liter diesel V6, and a gas V6 with 340 horsepower. There are two V8 engine outputs available — 435 horsepower and 460. At the tippy-top is the W12, which puts out 585 horsepower, but that’s unlikely to come to the US.

In the future, there will also be a plug-in hybrid variant. It pairs a 3.0-liter gas V6 to an electric motor to achieve 449 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. Its lithium-ion battery can provide up to 31 miles of electric-only driving, and it’ll come with an optional wireless charging system.

The 2018 Audi A8 appears in Germany this fall, with a US debut slated for spring or summer of 2018. It’s priced from 90,600 euros, or about $103,225. US-specific pricing will be made available at a later date.

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