2019 Audi A8 L Review: High-Tech Luxury
Finally driving the U.S.-spec A8Audi A8 Full Overview
Nobody needs a luxury flagship. Even if you ignore the fact that by definition, luxuries are things people don't need, midsize luxury sedans have become so large, it's hard to imagine anyone who drives themselves needing more space than an Audi A6 or BMW 5 Series provides. And for the same money, you typically have the choice between a midsizer that's loaded to the gills and a base-model flagship.
Instead, you buy (or more likely lease) a car such as the A8 because you want it. It's a status symbol. A sign that you've made it. So tossing logic and practicality out the window for a moment, is the 2019 Audi A8 a car that makes you want it? Does it stroke your ego and make you feel special the way a luxury flagship should?
Judging purely on exterior design, probably not. In spite of the light show it performs every time it's unlocked, the A8 is understated, almost to the point of looking plain. A four-door Prologue concept, this is not. Then again, aside from the Jaguar XJ and perhaps the Maserati Quattroporte, cars in this segment aren't usually known for their striking looks. They're more about luxurious cabins, cutting-edge technology, and imposing length.
Even if the A8's styling isn't exciting enough for you, it only takes one glance to recognize it's a large car. The U.S. only gets the longer A8 L, which has a 123.1-inch wheelbase and measures 208.7 inches overall. Compared to the A6, that's an extra 8.0 inches of wheelbase and 14.3 inches of overall length.
Inside, however, it's a different story. If you've seen the new A6, the layout will be familiar, but the clean, modern design still feels fresh. The wood trim on the dash that retracts to reveal hidden air vents is an especially nice touch. If you're going to buy an A8, though, you better like piano-black plastic. It doesn't show fingerprints as much as you'd expect, but it's a major part of the design of the dash and center console.
With Audi's Virtual Cockpit and two large touchscreens, the center console is largely devoid of knobs and buttons. Thankfully, Audi also took the time to develop a system that's intuitive to use and responds quickly to inputs, so the lack of buttons shouldn't be an issue. Even the remote for passengers lucky enough to ride in the back seat is easy to use. The fact that Audi's high-resolution graphics look great is just a bonus.
Eventually, the U.S. will get an optional V-8, but for now, the A8's only engine is a 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 making 335 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. Paired with an eight-speed transmission, standard all-wheel drive, and a 48-volt mild-hybrid system, Audi estimates the A8 L will hit 60 mph in 5.6 seconds. That's not especially quick, but it's still far from slow. Besides, cars like the A8 are more about cruising in comfort than racing to the next traffic light.
Surprisingly, the A8 handles curves pretty well. It's no R8, but in Dynamic mode, it's more nimble than you'd expect a 17-foot, 4,700-pound luxury sedan to be. Does it understeer at the limit? Probably. But if you plan to take corners fast enough to find out, full-size luxury sedans probably aren't for you.
On the highway, the A8 is impressively quiet, almost keeping road, wind, and tire noise out of the cabin entirely. Add in comfortable seats with an excellent massage function, a smooth ride, a high-quality Bang & Olufsen sound system, and a 21.7-gallon gas tank, and you have a recipe for a truly fantastic road trip car.
As for the A8's much-anticipated Traffic Jam Pilot, a Level 3 system capable of handling most driving responsibilities on divided highways at speeds less than 37 mph, don't expect it to be available in the U.S. anytime soon. From the sound of it, the complexity of federal and state regulations forced Audi to shelve Traffic Jam Pilot for the foreseeable future.
The good news is, many of the A8's other desirable features are on their way. The U.S. has to wait until next year to get four-wheel steering and a predictive active suspension, but both systems will be worth the wait. With the rear wheels turning, Audi says the A8 actually has a smaller turning circle than the A4. The result is a car that's noticeably more agile.
The active suspension, meanwhile, can raise and lower each wheel independently as it scans the road ahead. Not only can it skip over potholes, it also flattens out speed bumps as you drive over them. And if the system recognizes you're about to be T-boned, it can tilt up that side of the car to reduce the risk of injury.
Considering how much the four-wheel steering system and active suspension improve the A8, you'll want to make sure your A8 has both. Just be prepared to pay up. Although the 2019 A8 starts at $84,795, well-equipped versions easily sail past the $100,000 mark. With the V-8, the A8's two most desirable features, and a few other options, a $150,000 price tag wouldn't be surprising.
Then again, if you're looking for a car that celebrates your success, who cares about saving money?
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2019 Audi A8 L ,.
The all-new Audi A8 serves as a leader in the luxury sedan segment. The 2019 A8 delivers a serene interior design, usable technology that seamlessly connects drivers and passengers to their digital lives and driver assistance technologies that allow everyone to arrive more relaxed.
The exterior design of the 2019 A8 marks the start of a new era for Audi. With an emphasis on progressive elegance, the sedan blends craftsmanship with cutting-edge technology. The front with its broad, upright Singleframe grille, the flowing and muscular body design and the rear with its full-length strip of dynamic lighting, radiate the powerful presence of the new A8.
Launching with a new 335-horsepower, 3.0-liter V6 turbo engine, the 2019 Audi A8 powertrain is paired with a standard new 48-volt electric mild-hybrid drivetrain. This 10Ah lithium-ion battery and new belt driven alternator starter has been engineered to support the TFSI engine and functions as the main vehicle electrical system enabling the advanced infotainment and luxury equipment, including the driver assistance systems and electromechanical suspension in the A8.
This system allows for recuperation of power and is designed to help provide a more responsive and smooth ride. The powertrain operates in conjunction with a fast and gently shifting eight speed tiptronic transmission and standard quattro all-wheel drive with self-locking center differential.
Audi approaches the digital age with a revolutionary infotainment in the A8. It transforms the rotary/push-button control and touchpad. At the center of this new system's instrument panel is a 10.1-inch touchscreen display. Like a smartphone, the menu structure is intuitive and flat, and the user can freely arrange the feature icons according to their personal preferences.
New 2019 Audi S8 revealed - A8 flagship returns with petrol V8
The Audi S8, star of movies like the Ronin and Taken, has returned in an all-new generation with a 563bhp twin-turbo V8 petrol engine under the bonnet. The classically understated sports limo has retained its subtle mence, but unlike many of Audi’s other S models it will keep its petrol powertrain. There’s also a full suite of new tech to make this five-metre saloon handle with some level of alacrity.
The new S8 is based on the new generation A8 that arrived back in 2017 and shares its 4-litre twin-turbo V8 with other Audi and Volkswagen Group products. In this form the V8 produces 563bhp, with 590lb ft of torque available right at the base of the rev range. Assisting the petrol engine is Audi’s 48V mild hybrid system, comprised here of a starter generator and a lithium ion battery back. Unlike in the SQ7 and SQ8 where the system also powers an electrically driven compressor, in the S8 it acts purely as a light engine load assistant, enhancing the start-stop system and helping out with torque boosts during motorway coasting and cylinder deactivation.
> Click here for our review of the new 523bhp BMW 750i
The rest of the S8 drivetrain is made up of the typical eight-speed ZF automatic transmission and quattro all-wheel drive fitted with Audi’s torque vectoring Sports Differential. From here, Audi has fitted its full arsenal of chassis tech to make the S8 as agile as possible. Shared with the SQ8 is a rear-wheel steering system, but bespoke to the S8 is a revised version of the standard model’s predictive air suspension. It works by actively scanning the road ahead for irregularities or intrusions in the road surface and adjusting each wheel in advance. When the road gets really rough or the car spots a pothole, the system is able to force the wheel into the bump with electromechanical actuators, thus smoothing out the car’s body movements. The system is then also able to counter body roll with these same actuators when sport mode is selected, and as such doesn’t require the active anti-roll system found on the SQ7 and SQ8. Carbon ceramic brakes are also on the options list.
Aesthetically the S8 follows its predecessors with a distinctly subtle, under the radar look. It’s not ostensibly different to the standard S-line A8, but does feature a couple of subtle changes to the front fascia and the ubiquitous quad exhaust pipes. Inside, customers will be able to specify the usual array of interior finishes, with bespoke stitching patterns and carbonfibre among the elements bespoke to the S8.
The S8 will rival the Mercedes-AMG S63 and new BMW 750i when it arrives in the UK later this year with a price tag expected to hover around the £100k mark. Although it remains a rather niche car, especially with many customers diverting to performance SUVs, the flagship performance limo still has plenty going for it if you can overcome mafia-don image.
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If the unregulated realm of the automated car is the Wild West, Audi could be the next Billy the Kid. Its all-new A8 luxury sedan is positioned to be the first vehicle to offer Level 3 self-driving capability. Like the actual Wild West, the highly autonomous version is filled with the unknown and uncontrollable, but here the threats are regulation and liability, not gunslingers. Accordingly, Audi still won’t say whether the first car with self-driving capability will actually be allowed to drive itself when it goes on sale in the United States in the fall of 2018.
Either way, the 2019 A8 poses a genuine threat to Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Cadillac. It is taller, longer, more isolated from the road, yet better controlled than the A8 it replaces. It is a cruise missile for the wealthy; it flattens mountains and straightens freeways with ease. And even absent Traffic Jam Pilot, the official term for the headline self-driving feature, it’s quite likely the most technologically advanced car in the world.
Hybrids, Mild and Otherwise
At launch, the A8 will be available with one engine, a single-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 good for 335 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. Shortly thereafter, by the end of 2018, a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 with 460 horses will follow. Both powerplants get limited hybrid assistance, thanks to the use of an alternator that doubles as a starter (BAS, for belt-alternator-starter, in Audi lingo), an arrangement that powers a 48-volt electrical system. The alternator/starter is good for 16 horsepower during energy recuperation and 9 horsepower when assisting the gasoline engine. Its purpose, according to Alexander Kruse, the Audi engineer responsible for the development of the BAS system, is to assist the gas engines in achieving their most efficient operating rpm sooner, thus improving fuel economy. The BAS will add torque to the powertrain mix, but its contributions are at the low end—nowhere near the peak output of the engines.
Audi’s German planners tell us the W-12 engine will not come to the United States, despite its being offered in previous A8s, but U.S. representatives for the company aren’t yet willing to admit it. We’re not holding our breath. Both the V-6 and V-8 engines are paired with ZF’s paddle-shiftable eight-speed automatic transmission, and Quattro all-wheel drive is standard. EPA estimates aren’t yet available, but it’s safe to say that Audi didn’t make the A8 a hybrid so it could be less efficient than the car it replaces, which yielded a combined 22 mpg when fitted with the supercharged 3.0-liter V-6. For those with mileage at the top of their desires, a plug-in hybrid model offering 449 combined horsepower and equipped with inductive-charging capability will arrive in early 2019.
Big Car, Big Importance
Like the current A8, the fourth-generation sedan will be available in the United States only in the longer of the car’s two wheelbases, which this time spans 123.1 inches. It’s not yet determined whether the S8 to be spun from this new model will come in the shorter, 118.0-inch wheelbase, following the strategy used on the current A8/S8. Length is up by 1.3 inches and height by 0.7 inch, while width shrinks by 0.1 inch. As executive sedans go, the A8 is sized to compete with the other German megacruisers. Its wheelbase is 1.5 inches shorter than the Mercedes-Benz S-class and 3.3 inches shorter than BMW’s 7-series. It’s a segment built around the rear seat, and all three cars offer ample space to let riders’ Testonis breathe.
We drove the A8 in southern Spain over mountainous terrain lined with glass-smooth, ribbonesque two-lanes that lacked both shoulders and mercy. Our time behind the wheel came in relatively benign A8s equipped with the V-6 and lacking some of the machine’s most compelling features. We weren’t able to try Traffic Jam Pilot during this specific experience, but we had already driven a car equipped with it and found the system, while capable of relieving traffic-induced stress, was quite limited in scope.
Although the A8’s new chassis is good—there’s ample body control and isolation with the car’s standard air springs and adjustable dampers—the active-suspension models we drove weren’t yet fully baked. The optional Audi Intelligence (AI) active suspension, one component of a suite of intelligent features, includes an electric motor at each corner capable of raising or lowering that wheel via a torsion bar linked to the suspension. In effect, there are two springs on each wheel of A8s equipped with the active suspension: an air spring and a torsion bar coupling the wheel carrier to the electric motor. The motors and torsion bars eliminate the need for traditional anti-roll bars by enabling roll control as well as managing pitch and dive.
The active setup’s most promising feature, however, is the ability to float the A8’s body over road irregularities. The AI system scans the road ahead with a forward-looking camera (Audi calls the function Preview) and turns that data into wheel motions that follow the road’s shape. Before the front wheels encounter an elevated bump, the body is raised to provide the additional suspension travel needed to absorb the imperfection. Then, as the car passes over, the suspension is extended to trace the road’s topography. Dips and single-wheel events are handled similarly, with the wheels following the terrain while the body remains isolated. The system provides 2.0 inches of lift and 2.4 inches of drop at each wheel, enough to make speed bumps and manhole covers virtually irrelevant. Closed-course demonstrations of the Preview technology were convincing, but we didn’t get to experience it on the open road. Even though the active suspension was fitted to two test cars and performed as promised to limit roll, pitch, and dive, the Preview function wasn’t enabled on those cars. Audi’s Drive Select system is standard and offers three driving modes (Auto, Comfort, and Dynamic) and also integrates control of the AI suspension on cars so equipped.
The standard suspension is no slouch itself when it comes to comfort and control. Wheel sizes will start at 19 inches, with options up to 21 inches available. We didn’t sample the optional torque-vectoring Sport rear differential, which no doubt would have improved the handling. Still, we weaved the A8 up a road more appropriate for a Mazda Miata and were impressed with the big Audi’s grip and manners, although no one is pretending a car this large has any business attacking roads that tight. Steering feel, despite efforts to improve its feedback, remains as it is in most other Audis: laser-sight precise, but mostly numb. If Audi could elevate its steering system’s feedback to match its accuracy, it would possess the magic bullet sought by energetic pilots of every executive sedan.
The company has figured out that a sedan this long benefits from a tighter turning radius and so offers dynamic all-wheel steering as an option. The system operates over a wide latitude depending on vehicle speed and other factors, behaving as if the steering ratio varies between 9.5:1 and 17.0:1. It’s the inclusion of the rear wheels in the business of turning that makes the real difference. Below 37 mph, the rear wheels turn out of phase with the fronts at an angle of up to 5 degrees, making the A8’s wheelbase feel shorter and shrinking its turning circle by 3.3 feet relative to cars without the system. Above that speed, rear-wheel steering angle is in phase with the fronts and reduced to a maximum of 2 degrees. A cone-smashing parking-lot demonstration proved that you’ll either opt for the four-wheel steering or you’ll do a lot more sawing at the wheel in tight spaces.
Hit the Lot
Mercifully, the A8 is as well suited to parking-lot duty as Kylie Jenner is to Instagram. The remainder of its AI features are designed to enable low-speed maneuvers in tight spots as well as parking in lots, on the street, or in a garage. Parking Pilot and Remote Parking Pilot enable autonomous parallel or perpendicular parking, although this system, too, wasn’t quite ready for prime time during our demos. During one parallel-parking attempt, we stopped the car manually before it executed autonomous removal of its driver’s-side mirror on a concrete abutment. It was then unable (or unwilling) to extract itself from the parking spot into which it had wedged itself—the automotive equivalent of a toddler’s sit-down protest. Garage Pilot, which enables autonomous garage parking in facilities equipped with the right technology, fared better, centering the car in the spot and not attempting any self-mutilation. Both of these systems are touted to operate remotely via a smartphone app, but we saw this at work only during the Remote Garage Pilot demonstration. It worked as promised, parking the A8 as we sat shotgun.
Other low-speed assist features include a self-steering system that directs the A8 away from obstacles at parking-lot speeds and can apply the brakes to avoid collisions. Possibly the biggest bit of progress in this regard, however, is the 3D feature, which stitches images from the A8’s four exterior cameras into a composite 3D image on the infotainment screen. It’s like BMW’s remote 3D system in that it allows drivers an off-car perspective generated by on-car cameras, but this one works brilliantly and can be pinch-zoomed or rotated quickly to gain visibility of part of the car that is otherwise obscured.
A8s equipped with active suspension can be had with Audi’s Pre Sense Side crash mitigation, which will elevate the side of the car about to be impacted in a T-bone collision. In half a second, the suspension on the side about to be hit raises 3.1 inches, better distributing the crash load through the floorpan to protect occupants. Audi insists the feature doesn’t increase the opportunity for the impacting car to flip the A8, probably because most side-impact collisions are at relatively low speeds.
Consistent with all Audis of late, the new interior is a sober revision on an already businesslike theme. Although it lacks flourish, the materials and assembly quality are exquisite and complement the modern, if subtle, redesign. But it’s hard not to shake your head at some of its rich-folk gimmickry. With a straight face, an Audi representative unveiled the optional foot warmer and massager for the right-rear passenger that deploys from the front passenger seatback. Massaging, heating, and reclining functions can be had in the rear seats as well. More important, it’s utterly silent—so much so that it’s hard to imagine there are actual explosions of fuel and air on the other side of the firewall. We never heard the V-6 make meaningful noise while the windows were up. Active noise cancellation through the audio system’s speakers is included on the V-8, W-12, and plug-in hybrid models.
But it’s up front, in the infotainment system, where the big changes have happened. Centered on the dash is a 10.1-inch haptic-feedback touchscreen that acknowledges inputs with a pulse when tapped. Below that on the center stack is a second screen, which functions primarily to display HVAC controls but can be used for other operations, including Google or navigation searches via handwriting recognition. The move to haptics eliminates most buttons as well as nearly every knob from the A8’s cockpit; a lone volume knob remains. But the system is highly configurable, allowing owners to choose their own dedicated buttons on the lower screen while offering permanent buttons for navigation, weather, telephone functions, and radio on the left side of the upper screen. Even though you’ll need to look down to find the “buttons,” you will not get impatient with the system. Its response is immediate. Persuading us that haptic technology offers the speed, ease of use, and efficiency of a knob and a few traditional buttons will take longer. Otherwise, several fundamentally sound features come standard. Audi’s Virtual Cockpit high-definition configurable instrument cluster is included in every A8, as is Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity.
Pricing will increase for the new A8, but Audi representatives say the bump will be modest. Given that a V-6–powered 2018 A8 starts at $83,475, we expect the fourth-gen car to begin at less than $90,000. If comfort, ease, convenience, and technological features are the measures of a modern luxury sedan, it’s hard to call the 2019 A8 anything but a win. It’s as silent, effortless, and serene an environment as can be had on four wheels. Few cars offer an escape from the chaos of modern driving as effectively as the 2019 A8—even when it’s not driving itself.
VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 4- or 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
ESTIMATED BASE PRICES: 3.0 TFSI, $89,000;
4.0 TFSI, $99,000
ENGINE TYPES: turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve Miller-capable 3.0-liter V-6, 335 hp, 369 lb-ft + AC motor, 9 hp (combined output, 335 hp, 369 lb-ft); twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 32-valve 4.0-liter V-8, 460 hp, 487 lb-ft + AC motor, 9 hp (combined output, 460 hp, 487 lb-ft)
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
Wheelbase: 123.1 in
Length: 208.7 in
Width: 76.6 in Height: 58.6 in
Trunk volume: 18 cu ft
Curb weight (C/D est): 4350-4800 lb
PERFORMANCE (C/D EST):
Zero to 60 mph: 4.0-5.5 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 9.9-13.3 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 12.5-14.0 sec
Top speed: 131-155 mph
EPA FUEL ECONOMY (C/D EST):
Combined/city/highway: 20-24/17-20/27-30 mpg
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V8 2019 audi
Editor’s Note:While Motor1.com’s U.S. edition waits to test the new Audi S8, our friends at Motor1.com Germany have already sampled the new super-sedan in Barcelona, Spain. Check out the full first drive. And note, as Audi USA has already published pricing for the S8, we’ve attached our prices rather than simply converting the German prices.
The model designation sounds like it belongs on a subway line, but the 2019 Audi S8 is significantly faster on the move. According to its creators, it’s “two cars in one” – a luxury saloon and a sports car – packed full of technology. Can the S8 keep this promise?
What is it?
The S8 is the top model in the A8 series as long as Audi's product strategists don't tinker with a W12 (not excluded) or RS 8 (practically impossible). Even a glance at the engine makes it clear the S8 means business. Its twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 packs 563 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. This is, unsurprisingly, the same engine found in the new RS6 Avant and RS7, only with a smidge less power to maintain the gap between the mightiest S model and the angrier RS line.
The S8 also has a 48-volt main electrical system with an additional lithium-ion battery and belt-starter generator as the basis for its mild-hybrid system, and for things like the forward-looking active suspension (more on this later). But this setup also improves fuel economy. The mild hybrid system saves two-tenths of a gallon every day by “sailing” with the engine deactivated. The new S8 is designed to save fuel in daily driving circumstances, although admittedly, that sounds like ordering a Coke Zero for to go with a triple cheeseburger. The S8, with its 5,081 pounds of weight (despite 58 percent aluminum content), is truly not a lightweight.
How does it drive?
Is the new Audi S8 a car for drivers or are you better off hanging in the cushy back seats? Audi helped us answer that question by offering a prominent chauffeur on the test track: Loic Duval, Le Mans winner in 2013. We’re laughing way in the back and enjoying pure luxury. No wonder, as the normal S8 is already 17 feet long, 6.4 feet wide and has a wheelbase of exactly 9.8 feet In important markets like China, North America, and South Korea, Audi offers the S8 exclusively as a long-wheelbase model, with an additional 5.1 inches between the axles.
Monsieur Duval switches to Comfort Plus mode and the ride becomes quite relaxed. We look around inside: Fine materials, everything is beautifully finished. But we’re a little surprised by the low seating position in the rear. And the how easily the S8 can mutate into a flying carpet.
Thank the aforementioned active suspension, a standard feature on German-market S8s. This system, which works in conjunction with the air suspension, and can pull each wheel up or down separately using electromechanical actuators. Or at least that's the theory. In practice, a camera detects larger irregularities such as speed bumps, which we hardly notice at all. Only very narrow imperfections are missed. And another feature of the Comfort Plus mode – in curves, the body tilts inwards by up to three degrees, thereby reducing lateral roll.
No matter where you sit in the Audi S8, Comfort Plus mode turns the big sedan into a first-class Trans-Europe Express. Even Audi itself uses the phrase “as if on rails,” conjuring images of the old Trans-Europe Express (TEE). Fifty years ago, getting from Munich to Milan on the TEE's Mediolanum took six hours and 40 minutes. The S8 should easily beat that time, especially since it accelerates much faster than an electric locomotive: 3.8 seconds to 62 mph. A current Porsche 911 Carrera S needs 3.7 seconds.
So far, so good. But what about the S8’s sporty touches? After all, you don't necessarily need 563 hp just to drive straight and fast. The second part of our drive takes us and the S8 out into the mountains around Barcelona. In Comfort Plus mode, the heavy sedan pushes out into fast corners. The Dynamic mode is quite different: here the S8 rushes through the corner with much more stability. The dynamic all-wheel steering system, in which the steering angles on the front and rear axles are individually adjusted, helps here. The suspension also acts differently in Dynamic mode, limiting the maximum roll angle to 2.5 degrees. If you want to, you can persuade the S8 to oversteer in a controlled manner. The sport differential helps, it shifts the drive torques between the rear wheels.
The twin-turbo V8's powerful pitch underscores the speed, but you shouldn't expect a roaring fighting machine.
And what does the fun cost?
Audi is calling for exactly 140,000 euros on the German market for the S8 (U.S. customers are on the hook for at least $129,500), a good 45,000 euros (about $44,300) more than the A8 55 TFSI with 340 hp. The price only goes up from there, though. Carbon ceramic brakes? 8,500 euros ($9,900). Laser light? 3,100 euros ($2,300). Full leather package? 6,520 Euro ($5,500). And if you go the “Audi Exclusive” route, you can easily sink a small car’s worth of options into the S8.
Yes, the new Audi S8 is expensive. But the company isn’t wrong to argue it’s “two cars in one”. In fact, the S8’s spread between comfort and sport is impressive. But in view of the size and weight of the sedan, it remains to be said: The S8 is incredibly fast. But it's not incredibly sporty.
2019 Audi S8
EngineTwin-Turbocharged 4.0-liter V8
Output563 Horsepower / 590 Pound-Feet
Drive TypeAll-Wheel Drive
Speed 0-62 MPH3.8 Seconds
Maximum speed155 MPH (electronically limited)
Cargo Volume17.8 Cubic Feet
Base Price$129,500 (U.S. Pricing)
By: Roland Hildebrandt
Translated by: Brandon Turkus
The automotive industry is cutthroat, and it’s especially bloodthirsty for competitors in the full-size luxury car segment, where vehicles such as the new 2019 Audi A8 compete. These range-topping sedans offer everything a customer could want, and reside in dealer showrooms as an example of the very best design, engineering, and craftsmanship that their brand offers.
The latest A8, though, isn’t quite the steerable superlative it once was. Uninspired looks, an underpowered engine, and its very dear price keep the -est off any adjectives that might be used to describe it.
For more on how Motor1.com rates cars, click here.
The 2019 Audi A8 begins with a base price of $83,800. My well-optioned tester, though, costs $118,995, and it isn’t even fully loaded. Left off the options list are a $7,550 Executive Rear Seat Comfort package, and more expensive paint and wheels.
While a good many features come standard – things such as Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit and MMI navigation/infotainment system, safety systems such as low-speed automatic emergency braking, and leather throughout the interior and on seats – a good many more are optional and quite expensive.
My test car’s most expensive option is an upgraded Bang and Olufsan Advanced 3D sound system, which costs $5,900. The next highest is a $4,500 Full Leather package, which replaces the standard leather with nicer Nappa leather and ensures every nook and cranny that wasn’t covered in cowhide before is now. The list of expensive options goes on and includes such high-tech gadgetry as a night vision camera ($2,300) and dynamic all-wheel steering ($1,950), as well as luxurious touches such as massaging seats in all four corners and dual-pane acoustic glass.
Compared to its competitors, the A8’s pricing is right where you’d expect it – up in the stratosphere with fellow German-sourced full-size luxury sedans. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class has the segment’s highest starting price of $91,250, while the BMW 7 Series’ starting price of $83,650 is nearly the same as the A8’s. From there, this Germanic trio is undercut in price by American, Japanese, and Korean competitors that offer greater value but not nearly the same brand cachet.
Audi phoned it in with the exterior design of this fourth-generation A8. The brand has been reinterpreting the same simple design language for so long that its cars have migrated from being handsome to ho-hum. The A8, in particular, is arguably the most underwhelming design in the brand’s lineup today.
Fortunately, the A8’s interior is an entirely different story. Audi has navigated the transition from analog gauges and physical controls to a majority screen-based interface better than any other automaker. The A8 features three large screens: one behind the steering wheel that displays the Virtual Cockpit system and two stacked on top of each other in the center stack.
Virtual Cockpit is a known quantity and is as excellent in the A8 as it is in every other Audi product. The two center screens, though, are the new stars, with incredibly crisp and elegantly designed graphics that complement the high-end physical materials around them. Speaking of which, the A8’s cabin is awash in metal, real wood, and leather that’s befitting its six-figure price tag.
The A8 scores a perfect 10 in the Comfort category because Audi spared no expense pampering the occupants of all four seats. To start, the A8’s adaptive air suspension is incredibly well tuned to flatten out uneven road surfaces. The car glides over bumps and divots; even railroad tracks are more heard than felt.
Inside, though, is where the coddling reaches new heights. For one, there’s no bad seat in the house. The front chairs feature 22-way adjustability, heating, and cooling, along with multiple types of massage. The outboard back seats also have heating, cooling, and massaging, and even recline. In terms of space, everyone has more than enough, with rear seat legroom bordering on comically large. The only interior dimension that’s underwhelming is trunk volume, which at 12.5 cubic feet is on the small side for a full-size car like this.
Lastly, the A8 runs virtually silently, with engine noise barely heard or felt from within the cabin, and wind and road noise very well filtered out. It’s not as silent as an electric car, but it’s darn close.
Technology & Connectivity⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀5/10
The A8’s tech and connectivity situation is a mixed bag. On the one hand, this car is a tour de force of technology. On the other, you’ve got to be willing to spend on option package after option package to get every gizmo and gadget that Audi offers. Plus, a few features come with expensive subscription fees that add significantly to the cost of ownership over time.
Let’s talk about what’s good, which is the A8’s long list of cool technology. As mentioned, the car’s three huge interior screens – a 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit screen and an upper 10.3-inch and lower 8.6-inch screen in the center stack – dominate your field of view. Running Audi’s latest MMI infotainment system, they present gorgeous graphics at an ultra-high resolution. The system never feels slow or trips up. There’s even a nice force-feedback “click” when you touch a button on either center screen that confirms your input was registered by the system. The center stack’s lower screen is used primarily to control the climate system and switches over to a handwriting screen when there’s an opportunity to write something into the system such as an address or search query.
Of course, the A8 features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but unlike most infotainment systems that work with smartphones, Audi’s is wireless. In fact, there’s a small compartment in the front center armrest where your smartphone will be wirelessly charged and have its signal amplified by a booster. Just toss it in there and you’re good to go.
Other remarkable tech includes the expensive B&O 3D sound system with tweeters at the base of the A-pillars that pop-up upon start up; a surround-view camera system that not only gives a bird’s eye view of the A8, but also creates a composite 3D view of the car that can be panned around; and a full-color high-resolution head-up display.
In this tester, a Rear Seat Connectivity package for $3,250 also adds special Audi-branded touchscreen tablets mounted to the rear of the front seats. With a built-in rear-seat DVD changer (no Blu-ray, Audi?), people in the back can watch their own movies, listen to their own music, and set their own climate controls. With many of the rear seat controls mounted on the flip-down center armrest, you get all this without sacrificing the middle rear seat; buyers who opt for the even more expensive Executive Rear Seat Comfort package lose that center seat entirely.
There’s more, of course, but these are the highlights that set the A8 apart. Unfortunately, everything just mentioned, besides Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, is an optional extra, which explains why 30 percent of this tester’s nearly $119K price tag is comprised of options. Also, Audi offers multiple subscription services that are required to make some of this impressive tech work. There’s Audi connect, Audi connect Care, and Audi connect Prime & Plus, all of which are offered with free trials that will, of course, expire, usually after six months. The data connection alone for the car, offered through AT&T, is $20 per month.
Performance & Handling⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀3/10
Ouch. Unfortunately, the A8 deserves such a low score in this category because Audi tossed away all pretense that you can have fun while driving the A8. For one, there’s only one engine offered: a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 producing 335 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. This is supplemented by a 48-volt mild hybrid system that takes over running most of the car’s ancillary systems, leaving the engine the sole task of motivation. With a curb weight of 4,751 pounds, it’s gotta focus.
Audi says a V8 engine will be available as an option by the summer of this year, but for now, the V6 is it. It’s not a bad engine; it runs smoothly and the power it provides is sufficient for most situations. Yet, if we’re being honest, paying nearly $120K for a car with 335 hp feels like a bad deal. Audi claims the A8 hits 60 miles per hour in 5.6 seconds, and that feels right, but it doesn’t feel fast from behind the wheel. After all, the BMW 740i takes just 5.1 seconds and the Mercedes-Benz S450 4Matic gets there in 5.4 seconds – and both BMW and Mercedes offer optional V8 engines.
Accelerating from a stop is a particular annoyance with the A8’s drivetrain. Throttle tip-in is far from silky. The transmission, an eight-speed automatic, seems unable to meter out the engine’s power in a linear way if you’re starting from zero. Perhaps it’s the mild hybrid system butting in, or maybe it’s just sub-par transmission tuning, but the A8 can’t accelerate after backing out of a driveway without a clumsy balk.
The Audi A8 offers more safety equipment than we’ve perhaps ever seen in a car. An automaker is usually ahead of the game if it offers, or even makes standard, a full suite of advanced safety technology that includes items such as automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and parking sensors.
The A8 includes all that as standard equipment, but goes several steps farther by offering options such as a night vision camera (dubbed Night Vision Assist by Audi), which shows an infrared view of the road ahead that highlights people and animals who could be hard to see at night with the naked eye. We’ve seen similar tech in other luxury sedans too, but it never gets less cool.
We’ve never seen a predictive active suspension before, though, which in the A8 can sense a collision from the side and lift the ride height 3.1 inches in half a second to direct the impact to the strongest part of the vehicle frame. There are other unique, but less extreme safety features too, such as a vehicle exit-assist system that will stop you from opening the car door if a vehicle is approaching from behind. It’d be great if it could see bike messengers, too.
Suffice it to say, the A8 is a cocoon of protection. The only reason it didn’t earn a perfect 10 in this category is because it’s yet to be crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), but we’d bet our last dollar it aces both. If and when it does, look for this score to change to a 10.
The Audi A8 offers just average fuel economy compared to its competitive set. Its official EPA rating of 19 miles per gallon in the city, 27 on the highway, and 22 combined is virtually the same as the Mercedes S450 and BMW 740i. All three also require premium fuel. The only difference between the A8, though, and the S-Class and 7 Series is that Mercedes and BMW offer plug-in hybrid versions of their full-size luxury sedans for buyers who really care about fuel economy. Audi offers no such option for the A8 (yet), which, as was previously mentioned, is only offered with its turbocharged V6 for now, with a V8 arriving later.
2019 Audi A8 3.0T
EngineTurbocharged 3.0-Liter V6
Output335 Horsepower / 369 Pound-Feet
Drive TypeAll-Wheel Drive
Speed 0-60 MPH5.6 Seconds
Maximum speed130 Miles Per Hour
Efficiency19 City / 27 Highway / 22 Combined
Cargo Volume12.5 Cubic Feet
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More like a cage in a zoo. There were two women of undetermined age in the cell. One of them immediately came up to me and asked for a smoke.