The latest flagship combines revisions to its weight-optimised, predominantly aluminium body with a raft of technological advances including new MatrixBeam LED headlights and an upgraded line-up of EU6-compliant engines. Built around the lightweight aluminium Audi Space Frame, the almost entirely aluminium body of the new generation A8 has been finessed by subtle resculpting of the bonnet, the single frame grille, the front bumper and the lower edge of the headlight units. At the rear, the design of the LED tail lamps has been revised and the bumper in all models bar the S8 now incorporates two rhomboid tail pipes. New chrome elements, new high gloss black window surrounds and five new colours also mark out the updated car. The visual appeal, visibility and active safety of the new generation A8 can also now be enhanced by new optional headlights employing MatrixBeam Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology which sets new benchmarks.
The high-beam function in these unique headlights uses 25 individual LEDs per unit that can be switched on and off or dimmed individually depending on the situation. This enables the headlight system to react extremely precisely to other vehicles while always brightly illuminating the road. When the on-board camera detects other vehicles ahead, the Audi MatrixBeam LED headlights mask the relevant sections of the high-beam by dimming or shutting off individual diodes. Very bright illumination is preserved in the remaining zones. The lighting system in the A8 uses predictive route data from the navigation system with MMI Touch to adjust the distribution of light in response to the current driving situation, and can recognise and act on route data, such as corners and road classifications. In the lavishly trimmed and very comprehensively equipped interior, customers can choose from a new range of upholstery and inlays in new colour schemes. Additions include the woods Fine grain poplar brown-silver and Fine grain ash brown-gold natural as well as the leather Unikat, which is particularly natural-looking, soft and breathable. Particularly indulgent interior options include front seats with ventilation and massage settings, relaxation seats with powered footrests, electrically adjustable, individual rear seats, a continuous, leather-covered centre console (exclusively for A8 L models) and power-assisted door closure.
The Audi exclusive personalisation range offers additional individualisation options for particularly discerning customers. Improvements have also been made to the optional assistance systems. Audi active lane assist, which makes slight steering adjustments when necessary, is new to the A8, as is the park assist system with 360° display, which handles steering when parking, and the head-up display, which projects important data in the driver's field of vision on the windscreen. The night vision assistant can now also recognize larger animals in addition to pedestrians. On the infotainment front, Audi connect is available as a supplement to MMI navigation plus. It uses an integrated UMTS module to connect the new A8 to the Internet. Passengers can surf and e-mail freely via a WLAN hotspot.
For the driver, the system delivers the tailored online services from Audi connect, such as online traffic information, Google Earth, Google Street View and online news, to the car. The audio highlights are the Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System and the Rear Seat Entertainment system which includes two displays, Bluetooth headphones and a DVD player.
The even sleeker new standard and long wheelbase bodies house a choice of seven petrol and TDI engines, the majority of which have been revised to improve performance and efficiency. The supercharged 3.0 TFSI petrol engine is boosted from 290PS to 310PS, the V8 twin-turbo 4.0 TFSI moves from 420PS to 435PS, the highly efficient 3.0 TDI clean diesel increases from 250PS to 258PS and the 4.2 TDI clean diesel gains 35PS, taking it to 385PS. Its already mighty torque output is also increased by 50Nm to a prodigious 850 Nm (626.93 lb-ft). Paired with quattro all-wheel drive, the 4.0 TFSI now powers the A8 from 0 to 62 mph in 4.5 seconds, but under partial load the Audi cylinder on demand (COD) system deactivates four of its eight cylinders to give priority to fuel economy. The most efficient diesel engine is the 3.0 TDI, which returns up to 47.9 mpg, corresponding to 155 grams of CO2 per kilometre. All engines satisfy the Euro 6 standard, helped by friction-reducing measures which reduce fuel consumption by as much as 10 per cent.
The new Audi A8 is expected to reach its first UK customers in January 2014.