The A8 continues to plough a lonely furrow as the only luxury car to be constructed around an aluminium spaceframe, the argument from Audi being that it’s lighter than conventional steel but easier to manufacture than the aluminium monocoque arrangement preferred by Jaguar. However, maybe others have taken note as the new 7 Series is built predominantly using a mix of aluminium and high-strength steel laced with a carbonfibre polymer.
For this generation, Audi has focused on using aluminium alloys whose extra strength not only makes the A8’s structure 25 percent more rigid than before but, despite its extra size, also very slightly lighter because less of the metal is needed. The entire car is around 50kg heavier than what went before, a modest increase given its added content.
It sits on multi-link suspension at each end with standard air springing and electronic damper control. So-called ‘dynamic’ steering, which can vary its ratio according to need, is an option and came fitted to our test car.
Horizontal chrome strips that dominate the grille and radar sensors that look like front foglights are intended to emphasise the A8’s sporting credentials by giving an impression of low-slung width. A low-level chrome strip goes around the car and adds a welcome touch of class to the exterior styling. Although the S8 gains a wealth of black exterior styling features, giving it a mean stance and presence.
Among the tech highlights, Audi is following BMW’s and Mercedes’ lead by offering a night vision camera with pedestrian recognition, but it’s another pricey option. Similarly, solar panels in the optional sunroof provide the power to circulate cool air even when the engine is switched off. These gadgets emphasise the car's top-end status - but they are also expensive, and retain a fraction of their value in time.