Audi is a model that defines luxurious by know-how and engineering, so we anticipate the Ingolstadt set to convey its absolute A-game with its freshly redesigned flagship, the 2019 Audi A8 L.
This long-wheelbase, full-size luxurious sedan is loaded with the primary software of Audi’s 48-volt delicate hybrid powertrain and the perfect driver help, infotainment and efficiency know-how within the automaker’s playbook, a lot of which I used to be in a position to expertise earlier this yr in a European-spec mannequin.
Nonetheless, the fourth-generation A8 hasn’t crossed the Atlantic completely intact. Laws and market preferences imply that the 2019 A8 L arriving stateside (and within the Roadshow HQ storage) has a function record that’s, let’s say, a bit curated.
Gentle-mannered delicate hybrid
Maybe probably the most attention-grabbing know-how beneath the 2019 A8’s sheet metallic is its new delicate hybrid system (MHEV), which augments the sedan’s three.Zero-liter twin-scroll turbo engine.
The engine makes 335 horsepower in US spec and 369 pound-feet of torque, which is distributed by a regular Eight-speed computerized transmission and to the wheels through Quattro all-wheel drive.
Built-in into the powertrain is a 48-volt starter-generator and a small 10Ah lithium-ion battery. The MHEV system captures power through regenerative braking and makes use of it to energy a sophisticated stop-start system that is smoother and extra aggressive about shutting down the combustion engine whereas idling or coasting, which saves a little bit of gas.
The A8 L debuts the automaker’s first 48-volt delicate hybrid system which is mated to a three.Zero-liter turbocharged six-cylinder.
The powertrain feels robust, however a tad sleepy. In Dynamic mode, he four,288-pound sedan hauls it from zero to 60 in 5.6 seconds and builds strong mid-range torque for a assured around-town really feel. Nonetheless, it is potential to catch the turbocharger or gearbox sleeping in stop-and-go visitors, leading to sometimes poor tip-in throttle responsiveness within the Consolation and Eco settings. That is not the tip of the world, the massive tends itself in the direction of a relaxed driving fashion anyway.
Audi expects the A8 L to common 19 miles per gallon metropolis and 29 freeway, on par with the 2018 6-cylinder mannequin. Regardless of the additional gear and luxurious, it is disappointing to not see some form of enchancment for 2019, particularly contemplating this new era can also be about 176 kilos lighter.
Audi’s 48-volt mild-hybrid system additionally reaches the market across the similar time because the Mercedes-Benz CLS’ EQ 48-volt system. The Benz, which additionally makes use of a three.Zero-liter six-cylinder, feels rather more strong because of its use of electrical torque to help acceleration. For those who’re solely right here since you’re inquisitive about mild-hybrids, the smaller Benz is actually value a glance.
Excessive-tech dealing with
Going MHEV provides different benefits, comparable to powering most of the automobile’s accent methods, which might in any other case be a drag on the engine’s efficiency. This contains the adaptive air suspension and Dynamic All-Wheel Steering (D-AWS) methods.
Normal on the 2019 A8, the air suspension options 4 ranges of ride-height adjustability: Consolation, Dynamic, Low-Velocity Elevate for clearing obstructions, and a Low Drag setting that mechanically prompts at freeway speeds to enhance gas economic system. The air suspension appeared to vary top faster and extra easily than most of the 12-volt methods I’ve examined, which meant much less ready for the nostril to elevate when clearing a extremely steep driveway.
Audi’s all-wheel-steering system can flip the rear wheels (as much as 5 levels) in sure conditions. At freeway speeds, the rears flip with the fronts, growing stability for lane adjustments or evasive maneuvers. At low speeds (under about 35 mph), the rear wheels cant opposing the fronts to scoot the tail round tighter bends, decreasing the turning radius of the lengthy sedan by about three meters.
The long-wheelbase A8 L with D-AWS can flip a U-turn in simply 11.Eight meters (about 38.7 toes). Remarkably, that is a barely smaller turning circle than the compact Audi A4. On the street, the massive A8 L felt like a a lot smaller automobile when maneuvering in city environments. It nonetheless felt heavy and vast on a decent and technical set of switchbacks, however I seen and appreciated each little bit of nimbleness the all-wheel steering provides.
Lively Lane Help
Audi says the 2019 A8 L is “autonomy-ready,” that means it is packed to the gills with all the sensors wanted for the corporate’s next-generation automated driving options. A complete of 24 exterior sensors — together with ultrasonic, cameras, long- and short-range radar and the automaker’s first manufacturing lidar laser sensor — watch the automobile’s perimeter and energy a sophisticated suite of driver help options together with full-speed adaptive cruise management, visitors signal recognition, 360-degree cameras, blind spot monitoring, pedestrian detection, elective evening imaginative and prescient and extra.
The standout new function for 2019 is Lively Lane Help, an evolution of Audi’s Visitors Jam Help. When adaptive cruise is lively, Lane Help’s cameras detect lane markers and, if current, a number one automobile. Electrical steering help then retains the A8 consistent with the automobile forward and between the lane markers. In contrast to the low-speed Visitors Jam Help, this function works at freeway speeds.
The US market A8 is lacking a number of the most superior ADAS options from the European mannequin, and but it is nonetheless one of many smartest automobiles you should purchase in the present day.
I might really feel Lively Lane Help transferring the wheel in my arms because it adopted curves within the street and nudged the sedan towards the lane’s heart. However do not be tempted to let go; this is not autonomous tech, it is a partially automated, hands-on system that may warn you to regain management should you attempt to go hands-free.
Ignore the prompts and the alerts develop into extra assertive, culminating within the A8 aggressively tightening the seat belt and tapping the brakes to wake a potential dozing driver. If that does not get you to seize the wheel, the A8 will activated its hazard lights, convey itself to a cease in its lane and name emergency providers, assuming that the motive force is incapacitated.
MMI Contact Response infotainment
One of many first issues Audi-philes will discover when settling behind the wheel is that that spherical MMI management knob has disappeared from the middle console. Instead is MMI Contact Response, a twin capacitive-touchscreen setup with haptic suggestions.
The primary higher display screen encompasses a grid of icons that may be custom-made by dragging and dropping them round the principle menu. Past the house display screen, all the submenus have been redesigned for extra touch-friendly use. After years with the knob, the touchscreen felt alien — like a step backwards — however Audi has labored to make Contact Response really feel like a smartphone. There’s even a standing bar on the prime that may be clicked to disclose shortcuts to the settings menu. The educational curve is a surprisingly simple one.
In the meantime, the brand new decrease display screen adjustments format and performance relying on what’s occurring upstairs. Normally, it is house to local weather and seat-temperature controls, however seek for a vacation spot and the decrease display screen adjustments to a writing pad the place I might merely write my vacation spot. The additional house, relative to the previous contact floor, feels extra pure, permitting for the spelling out of entire phrases comparable to “HOME,” quite than ready for the system to acknowledge every letter at a time. It is even potential to layer one letter atop one other and the system nonetheless figures out your intention.
In the meantime, each shows provide haptic suggestions. Press a digital button to activate the ventilated seats, and the display screen provides a little bit of a tactile click on that makes it really feel like urgent an actual button, not not like a lot of in the present day’s smartphones. And with the 2 screens, Audi has been in a position to significantly scale back the variety of bodily buttons on the console; I solely counted six or seven left. Even the vent controls are neat little capacitive surfaces with haptic suggestions.
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay make return appearances this era and are simpler and extra pure to make use of with contact than they had been with the management knob. Nonetheless, the third-party interfaces do not help the haptic contact (but).
The brand new Contact Response system replaces the MMI controller with a dual-screen setup with haptic suggestions and writing recognition.
If there’s one weak spot to going all-in on shiny touchscreens and gloss black dashboard trim, it is fingerprints. Even when my arms had been dry to the contact, I stored prints of my numerous swipes, faucets and scribbled locations. You will need to preserve a microfiber material within the glove field, lest the smudges drive you mad.
Additionally current are a head-up show projected onto the windshield and the second era of Audi’s Digital Cockpit digital instrument cluster. The latter encompasses a improved show decision and extra processing energy, which makes digital gauges swing extra believably and the Google Earth satellite tv for pc maps slide by smoother.
Government rear-seat bundle
For 2019, Audi has chosen to solely import the long-wheelbase A8 L to the US with practically one foot of further legroom on the second row than the usual Euro mannequin. So our A8 already boasts loads of room for passengers, however accessible upgrades can pamper and outright spoil the pushed.
Past the usual rear seat, there are two improve paths. The Rear Seat Consolation improve provides therapeutic massage, recline, and heated and ventilated seats. The passengers management these seats in addition to Lively Matrix overhead studying lights and MMI media controls with a removable wi-fi touchscreen.
A foot massager is built-in into the passenger seatback with the Government Rear Seat bundle improve.
My mannequin was geared up with the Government Rear Seat bundle, which upgrades the passenger-side rear bucket to a “rest seat” with extra recline vary and a novel foot massager constructed into the again of the entrance passenger seat.
My fortunate passengers might additionally reap the benefits of a pair of removable 10.1-inch Android tablets mounted on the seatbacks, which entry MMI media controls and, because of the A8’s 4G LTE-powered Wi-Fi hotspot, permits connecting to the Google Play Retailer to obtain apps like Netflix or YouTube. With built-in cameras, you can even video convention at freeway pace.
Coming points of interest
Choosing the Lighting bundle upgrades the A8’s taillights to OLED illumination with a cool greeting animation that performs when the automobile is unlocked at evening. The bundle additionally provides the for Audi’s LED Matrix headlights. Nonetheless, this Matrix know-how is not road authorized within the US but, so the software program to energy the superior light-shaping system will likely be disabled. Audi tells me that it’ll push a software program replace to permits the Matrix illumination when the legislation adjustments.
One other superior function not accessible at launch is Audi’s AI Lively Suspension. This 48-volt electromechanical suspension system makes use of forward-looking cameras to scan the street forward for large bumps, and it may shortly elevate and information the every wheel over these bump, leading to a smoother experience. This tech will not be accessible till subsequent yr, however I feel it could be a function value ready for.
The A8 I drove in Europe earlier this yr is also unlocked and began by tapping an NFC-enabled Android cellphone to the door deal with. Irritatingly, this function is not current on US fashions, as I used to be informed by an Audi consultant, due to lack of Apple iOS help. Looks like a foolish purpose to disclaim the tech to Android customers, however maybe it will reappear a while after launch.
In fact, the “autonomy-ready” A8 is prepared for a bunch of next-generation self-driving options, together with a Degree three self-driving system, which will not be accessible within the US at launch. That is not likely Audi’s fault, however for now, the Cadillac CT6’s highway-only Tremendous Cruise tech remains to be one of the best ways to pattern a very hands-off driver help on US roads.
How I would spec it
For now, in my eyes, Mercedes-Benz’s S-Class remains to be the gold customary for giant luxurious, however the A8 L is a strong contender with its completely different, technology-centered strategy. Nonetheless, most of the most compelling applied sciences — Matrix lighting, Degree three partial automation and AI Lively suspension — are locked away pending legislation adjustments or additional tailoring for the US market.
Audi’s tech-first strategy to luxurious has a really completely different enchantment from, say, Mercedes-Benz’s S-Class.
The 2019 Audi A8 L begins at $84,795 (together with a $995 vacation spot cost), which is only some hundred bucks greater than the BMW 7 Collection, and about six grand lower than a base Mercedes S-Class. With a regular adaptive air suspension, Bang & Olufsen audio, MMI Contact Response and the delicate hybrid system, that is an inexpensive beginning worth. You’d in all probability be very proud of only a base mannequin.
Nonetheless, my instance goes large, checking each possibility field accessible and tipping the scales at $124,845, as examined. Personally, I would skip all the rear seat upgrades — I am no chauffeur — holding solely the know-how and driver help upgrades, ending up at a beneficial worth of round $100Ok.