The new fourth-generation Audi A8 has been unveiled in the run-up to the start of UK sales in October.
Hailed as the dawning of a new era for the German car maker, the new flagship saloon has been comprehensively re-engineered. Audi intends it to mount a successful challenge against upmarket rivals such as the BMW 7 Series, Lexus LS and Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
Here's a walk around of the Audi A8 with A LOT of media in the way pic.twitter.com/wShU11JWNg
— Autocar (@autocar) July 11, 2017
The new A8, which is tipped to be priced from just under £70,000, draws on the latest evolution of Audi’s MLB platform. It offers the same 48V electrical system used in the SQ7. There will also be a new hybrid drivetrain that offers an electric-only range of up to 31 miles and there is advanced road-scanning active suspension. Audi claims the new A8 is the first series production road car to have been developed expressly for what it describes as “highly automated driving”.
Among the showcase features available from the new A8’s long list of optional equipment is a so-called Traffic Jam Pilot system. Part of a suite of 41 individual driver assistant functions, it takes charge of driving in slow-moving traffic up to a speed of 31mph on motorways, where a physical barrier separates the two carriageways.
As well as relying on cameras, radar and ultrasonic sensors, Traffic Jam Pilot is the first automated driving system to be offered on a production car to employ a laser scanner. The new system manages starting, accelerating, braking and steering functions. But without a legal framework for its operation in many markets, Audi says it will adopt a step-by-step approach to the introduction of its new autonomous driving tech.
The new A8, which is codenamed D5 within Audi, follows an evolutionary design path. Its exterior appearance blends a number of newly interpreted elements from the earlier Audi Prologue concept car — including a heavily reshaped grille, tauter surfacing and a new tail-light treatment — with time-honoured cues from earlier versions of the Audi flagship.
As with the third-generation model, on sale in the UK since 2009, the new A8 will be sold with the choice of two wheelbases. Both are 6mm longer than those of the old A8, at 2998mm and 3128mm.
At 5172mm long, 1945mm wide and 1473mm tall, the new A8 is 37mm longer, 4mm narrower and 13mm taller than its predecessor in standard guise. The A8L’s 130mm-longer wheelbase extends its length to 5302mm, with added ride height bringing 4mm to its height, at 1488mm.