Everywhere luxury is combined with an absolute spirit of technology, including all aspects of this model. Starting with security. What about the promised autonomous driving? At the moment, the current law does not allow it.
Many sleepless nights, intense in-depth studies, just to be the first to bring a self-driving vehicle into the customer’s hands, then, seemingly at the finish line, it turns out it can’t be done. It is ready for Level 3 autonomous driving (the first level of the Sae classification), but nothing can be done. The reason: the lack of an appropriate legal norm. How to say that the rhythms of legal institutions are slower than those of technical developments. Nothing surprising, but practically the result is that the fruit of many years of research cannot (currently) circulate on public roads.
Besides that, Audi has a lot to say: even with mediocre power steering (mediocre, because when you get to a certain level, everything else feels like little, to say the least), this supercar from Ingolstadt unfolds a completeness which, without redesigning either the overall configuration or the primary mission, manages to send the parameters to a higher level. Then it should not be forgotten: with this first contact with autonomous driving one should not let too much imagination run wild. As explained in detail on the following pages, this Audi model will not be the one that sends you to work by itself. For such scenarios, it is still early. However, when AI (Artificial Intelligence, the name that includes all the most advanced technologies of the A8 model) arrives, it will in no case be updatable in models that will be in circulation.
There is nothing left now but to find out what is in store for the model we have at the moment, which at least has the privilege of presenting us with the direction of the company for years to come: how to say some of the things present on these pages we will see again in generations the next model A3 and A4.
The linear and regular layout, typical of an Audi, far removed from the many elements of a Mercedes S-Class model, gives life to a combination reminiscent of a lounge model. The materials, the style, the precision of the overall realization influence this, but also (or above all, for the progress of the times) technological availability, such as technologies dedicated to driving or those for the entertainment of the lucky passengers. The disappearance of the scroll on the dashboard may not be considered a step forward, but the new dual-screen setup has an undeniable impact. It is not an absolute innovation, the presence of two screens, because it debuted on the Range Rover Velar model, but on the A8 model it has become even more convincing thanks to the speed of the system’s response. Almost everything is collected here and no matter how much the work of rationalization and simplification is carried out by the German technicians, in some cases it reaches the point where the lack of traditional physical buttons is felt. Which would otherwise be more numerous than those present in the cockpit of a 747, if the variety of functions to be managed is taken into consideration.
Behind, the legroom is not much different from that of a Skoda Superb model, at least in the tested specimen (for the long-wheelbase version, which reaches up to 5.30 meters, the assessment is of course different). However, the cabin of the A8 model is a good place to sit, in the case of the tested model, it is certainly improved even more thanks to the presence of over 50 thousand euros of accessories, a large part of which is dedicated to details that increase the level of experiences experienced on board: matters of perception (skin, perfume dispenser) and real sensations, as in the case of the Confort seats equipped with seven types of massages.
After passing the selection step between the Stretch or Vitalizzante variants, we are ready to go. With the rear passengers busy with other “concerns”: from choosing between TV or music, to determining the profile of the seat, both in terms of the adjustment of the sections and the massage. While, for the right passenger, heating for the legs is also available. A scenario that would deserve the most perfect form of autonomous drive, the driver. However, even without it, they cannot complain: the four-wheel steering scheme increases the maneuverability of the model even at low speeds, but in the end it is simply a question of details, because it is on long journeys where this German expresses all available potential. According to the terrain, one gets the feeling that one can travel undisturbed and undertaking this adventure has its own charm: placed in the excellent Confort seat (optional, which is related to the information above), with the engine at the level of 1,600 revolutions a almost absolute silence, the feeling of well-being is total and this is thanks to seemingly insignificant details, such as the style of the interior or the navigator’s map on the instruments. Small things, but the latter, with its variety of information, makes the driver feel more secure and free.
You don’t get that flying carpet feeling of a Mercedes S-Class (in fact, motorway journeys feel minimal), but it doesn’t break much ground: in return you get significantly higher steering precision. And thanks to the Mild hybrid system of 48 volts, it can also be used at high speeds: it is not enough to be classified as a true hybrid, but the consumptions certainly feel it. Even in the context of performance, the three-liter TDI engine makes a good showing: higher-powered engines will arrive later, but the A8 model always moves with a perfect balance between high fluidity and large displacement. After all, it is exactly what is needed for the personality of this model.
INFOTAINMENT / IT’S ALMOST ACHIEVED IN THE DIALOGUE
A plant of a high level, both in terms of realization and ease of use in relation to the overall potentials, which also marks an important change of direction. In fact, the new A8 model has given up the usual scroll present on the panel: a change which will also be present in other models of the company, starting with the new A7 model. In the context of human/machine interaction, it is worth appreciating the ability of German technicians to make a (virtual) reality composed of hundreds, if not thousands of representations, orderly and easily manageable. A job with an important impact, which is also facilitated by the presence of two central screens, an element that allows you to maneuver with information in a more practical way. Also, the screens are composed of a haptic feedback: which means that every press is accompanied by a slight reaction under the finger, which gives the sensation of pressing a real physical button. Among other things, despite this function, the required attention (as with all touch systems) remains higher than that required for a plant equipped with controls on the central panel. An important difference, as it is directly related to driving safety, which Audi eliminates with high-quality voice commands. Of course, it is not at the level of Siri or Google Now, but the feeling is that dialogue with the plant is possible: the driver can make requests elastically, or without worrying about respecting some predefined syntax.
AUTONOMOUS DRIVING / IN A CAR DRIVE IS THE ONLY WAY
What the A8 will be authorized to do in the future, when AI Traffic is the third-level automated driving pilot will be homologated and allowed by the Highway Code, it was possible to physically prove it in a test carried out by Audi in the autumn past. To clarify, it’s not about pressing a button and the car sends you to your destination: that will still take (much) time. For the first time (and under certain conditions) however, it is possible to take your hands off the wheel and take your eyes off the road to watch television or other things on the dashboard screen. Thanks to 24 sensors, including radar, Lidar, ultrasound and camera, the powerful AI Traffic jam pilot control unit, equipped with Nvidia and Mobileye chips, is able to control what happens around the vehicle and distinguish the surrounding environment. Thus, if it is in a convoy at a speed between 0 and 60 km/h on the highway or an expressway without traffic lights, a message appears on the instruments that signals the availability of the system: by pressing the AI button on the center panel, the instrument panel changes appearance and the car itself takes the lead, following the movement of the vehicle ahead and always maintaining the same lane. After that you can relax and think about something else, but not read the newspaper or sleep: a camera keeps the driver’s gaze and if the latter’s eyes are closed or not visible, an alert is activated to resume the direction of the car. the vehicle. If it’s not respected, the alert gets louder and if the driver doesn’t react again, the A8 tightens the seat belt and makes three successive light brakes, the latter alerts which are impossible not to feel. The same also in the event that the conditions in which the car can drive itself are lost, e.g. if other cars disperse and if 60 km/h can be exceeded. In the case in which all signals were not taken into account, the car would stop in the lane it is traveling and if it still did not receive a response from the driver, an emergency call would be initiated.
TECHNIQUE / HIGH EFFICIENCY
The Audi premium model is a concentrate among the currently available technologies of the German company, and it is impossible to list them all in a small space. We only recall that the first generation A8, from 1994, introduced the aluminum chassis in the production of the series and in the current version steel is used for the parts with more stress, carbon fiber and magnesium were also used in the plants to increase the resistance. Also, this model is equipped with a 48 volt alternator, combined with a 10 Ah lithium battery, which enables efficient powering of high-consumption electrical appliances, recovery during discharge of up to 12 kW and restarting in order fast and silent V6 diesel unit. In this way, the engine can be turned off while the vehicle is moving at speeds between 55 and 160 km/h, while it can turn off at up to 22 km/h when approaching traffic lights.
SPACE AND VISIBILITY
Fabulous cabin. The minimum size for the space available for the legs of the people behind the bed: refers to the case when the front seat is pushed all the way back and the rear seat is fully retracted so that the backrest can be extended.
Good proportions and neat shape, although this does not rule out the fact that a few more liters would be more than welcome, if the dimensions of the body are taken into account. The opening and closing of the trunk is electric (a must, if the category is considered…) and the rear supports do not offer the possibility of folding.
SECURITY AND ADAS / EVERYTHING, MORE
The technological devices of the A8 model do not show their value only while driving. The shield of this model remains active even when the vehicle is parked: it is enough to try to open the door at the wrong moment (for example, when a cyclist is passing by the car), to realize that this is impossible. At the same time, the profile at the gate starts flashing a red light, accompanied by a slightly more classic yellow signal on the mirror (the one that, during movement, signals the presence of other cars in the dark corner). Just the time it takes to figure it out and the gate unlocks, with the cyclist already gone. Devices such as this (not unknown, given that they debuted on the Q7), are associated with the spectrum of systems already known: however, no model presents them all together, with a total of forty of them. Among other things, the A8 also monitors approaching cars when it stops at a traffic light: if the system detects the possibility of a collision, it tightens the seat belts, turns on the signals and does everything to minimize the consequences of the collision. A very useful system indeed, which in some cases proved to be a bit of a hindrance anyway, accomplishing everything that was traversed only because, at the rear of it, a car was approaching that was about to turn in one of the side directions. In fact, in this case, the approach is fatally faster compared to the case when this car itself decided to line up. The system, at that moment, convinces itself that the shock is expected and the scare is inevitable: to find yourself in the pleasant atmosphere of the A8 with the belts suddenly pre-tensioning is certainly not pleasant. A small sacrifice for higher security.
EVALUATION / MANAGEMENT POSITION
The seat, steering wheel block and pedals are carefully positioned in relation to each other and finding the right fit doesn’t really matter if the driver is tall or short. In the test model everything is improved thanks to the Confort seats.
CONTROLS AND INSTRUMENTS
German technicians have worked hard on the reconceptualization of ergonomics, shifting the essence towards virtuality. That’s all right, though, some actions require a higher level of commitment than usual.
The Mmi touch response system is a combination of a very high level. The absence of the classic scroll on the panel sometimes forces attention to be taken away from the road, an inevitable limitation for the “touch everything” philosophy.
THE AIR CONDITIONER
A four-zone automatic management plant, which in the test specimen was equipped with the Air quality package (which includes aromatization and ionization). At the back, the vents reach up to four of them.
It manages, at least in part, to make you forget the considerable dimensions of the body of the model itself. This is thanks to the not too thick side columns and when parking, thanks to the electronics: visibility in 360 manages to extract from any situation.
Considering the brand, the range and the figures involved, expectations are very high. They are complete: style, materials and workmanship are of a very high standard. No irregularities can be found even in the details of the details.
The base is very good. This does not prevent the greatly expanded margins of customizations: this is also reflected in over 50 thousand euros of optional elements of the test specimen. Moreover, which are not enough to call it full optional.
Extremely wide repertoire, certainly electronic based. The number of devices that make traveling safe is almost endless. Also, it is protected against the prohibited, as in the case of the delay in opening the doors.
ASSISTANCE IN DRIVING
Waiting for the first step of true autonomous driving to be in the hands of the public, the A8 offers a very well-executed assisted steering, really capable of making long journeys more comfortable and safe. .
Space is certainly more than ample, both front and back. In this model, the legs can be extended, and a possible third passenger is not very welcome, rather for reasons of atmosphere and not because of a lack of centimeters.
Good-sized space, with an actual capacity very close to the stated one: 494 litres. Interesting capacity, which, however, during long trips, forces the four passengers to somehow sacrifice.
In the A8, strong noises and vibrations are best filtered and the cabin is dominated by a high degree of calmness and comfort. Many details from the equipment to the upholstery, are then dealt with the amplification of these sensations which can be defined as the basis.
The next evolution of the three-liter six-cylinder unit. It works regularly with a homogeneity that in this type of vehicle is a must. And when it is tried to be fully exploited, the answer is convincing.
The considerable weight does not scare the A8 model at all, which gains speed without any uncertainty. And the beauty lies in the feeling that everything happens without the slightest effort. Figures at the same levels as the analog model BMW 730d.
Even in this case side by side comparisons with other models may be the same. This is due to the large amount of torque with which the gearbox changes all the necessary gears.
The ZF eight-speed variant is as quick as needed for this type of vehicle, but above all it makes you forget its presence: gear changes are felt more by the slight change in the sound of the engine.
It has a character that blends perfectly with that of the model itself and at the same time, helps define it. As light as needed, it is precise and progressive. And it is always easy to interpret.
They manage to withstand two tons without making the slightest bend. A high level of braking capacity, but also excellent fatigue resistance. Just somewhat long distances on wet tarmac/ice.
It perfectly interprets its role as a supercar. It also exudes unquestionable calmness whenever it is necessary to change direction. A detail which remains the same even in the case of emergency situations.
Excellent results and basically the same as those of the 730d model: overall average of over 13 kilometers per liter, which for vehicles of this category is more than economical. 82-litre tank: it’s a welcome option.
Technological level. Even in the context of future developments, the A8 reveals a level of completeness that transforms it into a true benchmark.
Internal execution. Style and performance: even in this context, this Audi model raises the bar even higher.
Unupgradable AI. As we mentioned, the technological offer is of an absolute level. However, it is a pity that the A8 cannot be upgraded after purchase. With the expected details at the time of resale.