By on July 11, 2017

Audi A8

For years, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class represented all the cutting-edge automotive wizardly you could hope to see trickle down into plebeian cars. That honor now belongs to the Audi A8. While Mercedes recently revamped the S-Class to better compete with Audi, the A8 is back with a vengeance — proclaiming itself, once again, to be the future of automobiles.

Now that “luxury car” really means “technology buffet,” Audi has adorned the 2019 A8 with the very best it can offer, hoping to find its way back into the premium vehicle market’s good graces.

Audi is specifically hoping China notices the A8’s new microchip magic. Sales of the sedan have slipped 25 percent in its biggest market between January and May of 2017, according to JATO Dynamics.

But Audi also experienced a cooling effect in North America as the flagship sedan grew long in the tooth, taking a notable sales hit every year since 2014. This year wasn’t shaping up to be any better but, based on the revamped A8’s plethora of technological updates, that’s likely to change by the end of next year.

Audi A8

Completely redesigned for the 2019 model year, Audi’s new A8 remains recognizable without feeling redundant. It’s more angular but the overall appearance doesn’t add much drama. Even its enormous grille, which accounts for the majority of vehicle’s face, somehow avoids becoming comical or aggressive. It’s a bit of a paradox but works in favor of a car that’s supposed to be a serious luxury item. The only exception could be the rear end, where Audi adopted vaguely American-looking taillights that seem slightly out of place on a German-made car (think a slimmed-down Buick Century or modern-day Lincoln Continental).

At 203.6 inches long, 76.6 inches wide and 58.0 inches high, the 2019 A8 is 1.5 inches longer than its predecessor and marginally taller. Audi is also planning a long-wheelbase model, mainly to appease China, which gains another 5 inches.

Audi A8 L

Gadgets are especially important in the Chinese automotive market, so it’s no wonder that the A8 is absolutely crammed with them — especially in the long-wheelbase model. Touch screens and an MMI infotainment system have replaced just about everything analog. There’s nary a button to be found. While it’s initially off-putting, tech-obsessed car buyers will see that as a perk instead of an opportunity to smudge up a visual interface with greasy fingerprints. If implemented well, there’s no reason to think it won’t be a satisfying experience. It seems to work for Tesla, and Audi probably used that knowledge to decide how to redesign the A8 — especially in regard to its autonomous features.

Audi is claiming the flagship sedan now boasts an impressive list of self-driving functions, more than enough to embarrass the Model S. Its traffic jam pilot system allows for unmonitored movement at speeds below 37 mph, with the brand implying drivers should feel free to completely ignore what the vehicle is doing (it has an on-board TV). However, there is a good chance this will come back to bite them. The automaker recommends only using the feature on straight roads where a “physical barrier separates the two carriageways.”

Audi A8

It isn’t difficult to imagine someone misusing the system, cracking a book, and being surprised when they rear-end another motorist. Still, a system that can manage starting, accelerating, steering and braking so confidently that the manufacturer recommends taking hands off the wheel is impressive. Tesla’s Autopilot is no slouch, but the company no longer allows drivers to go hands-free — which is probably a good practice in general.

The A8 has another autonomous party trick, though. Using an AI remote parking system, the vehicle can guide itself into spots without the driver even needing to be inside the car. While the extent of the system’s capabilities remain unspecified, owners can use a phone app to stream the A8’s camera feed as it maneuvers into a parking space or garage.

Audi A8

It’s needlessly futuristic, but Audi is banking on that being exactly what prospective A8 buyers are looking for. The theme spills over into the new suspension setup. Outboard cameras monitor the road ahead and adjust the suspension within a millisecond or two to better soak up bumps and adapt to changing road conditions. At less blistering speeds, it can also raise the car up to avoid harsh impacts with potholes and bumps. Audi says the system compliments the four-wheel steering and all-wheel-drive setup, is endlessly adjustable for sporty or plush driving experiences, and will even help minimize risk in the event of a crash.

Every version of the sedan will come with a 48-volt mild hybrid system, which gives the engine some additional oomph and delivers power to the trick electromechanical suspension. The A8 also comes with an extended stop-start function, regenerative braking, and can coast with the engine off to further increasing efficiency.

Detail

There are a bevy of engine options, although the variants slated for North America are unknown. The A8 will enter the German market with two turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engines: one TDI and one TFSI. The diesel develops 286 hp while the gasoline version produces 340 hp. Audi says a 460 hp 4.0-liter V8 will be available shortly after the vehicle’s global launch, along with a slightly less powerful diesel and a 6.0-liter W12.

A long-wheelbase e-tron quattro with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain will follow at a later date. Audi says that model will crank out 449 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque by combining electric motors with the base 3.0-liter TFSI V6.

The next-generation Audi A8 emerges in Germany this fall, with a US debut slated for the spring or summer of 2018. It looks to start at the Euro equivalent of $103,225. However, genuine U.S. pricing will be made available at a later date.

Audi A8 L

[Images: Audi]

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30 Comments on “Tech-laden 2019 Audi A8 Might Just Trump the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Again...”


  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    Can you imagine the repair cost three years out of warranty.

    • 0 avatar
      Rick T.

      Yes, pretty much this. Approaching retirement as a pay cash and hold buyer, there’s just too much financial risk at this level of tech.

      On the other hand, if full driving cars actually appear before I quit this veil of tears, it might be worth investing because I’ll likely be too old to drive myself as maybe I can preserve autonomy a while longer.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      …said nobody who leased the car for 3 years.

      Seriously, those who can legitimately afford any Q ship could care less about out of warranty costs. Heck, if you are, buy the extended warranty for $5,000 that will run it out to 7 years/100,000 miles.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        Straight up monetary outlays are one thing. Although even if yo can afford them, it can still be uncomfortable to be at the receiving end of the kind of in your face, prey on the “rich guy” price gouging, that passes for parts costs for these “Q-ships. A friend hit his mirror on a Very Pricey Car, and was told it was a $13K repair…… While his wallet can easily afford it, his dignity less so.

        Also, unless you have the money to have a, or multiple, close replacement(s), and have an assistant/driver dealing with all the hassles, the constant dealership yo-yo, estimates, wait for parts etc., have costs of their own.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      They just scrap it.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    I have to wonder why Audi keeps trying to compete with the S Class. Sure the A8 is competitive in technology, but at this level it is the brand that is key and nothing short of a Bentley or Rolls has the status of the S Class. Audi resources would have been better spent on making a super Q7 or Q8-9 since the luxury market seems to be going SUV, and the MB image is not nearly as dominant in that segment.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      I think the new A8 makes a pretty clear statement that if you want something that looks and *feels* a bit more futuristic – this is it.

      The S-Class, while plenty techy, still gives off more of a luxury vibe than it does a technology vibe.

      Subtle difference, I know, but my gut tells me that the Audi will appeal to Silicon Valley types whereas the S-Class will continue to attract a combo of old money and nouveau rich.

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        I think the problem is that if most people have to pay S-Class money, they want an S-Class.

        • 0 avatar
          TonyJZX

          They build these things because they can?

          I know an S-class is an S-Class but you might as well ask why they make a BMW 7 or why any luxury company makes a full sized flagship limo.

          I believe some parts of the various govts. of the world get driven around in a BMW 7 or a Audi 8 – its just the done thing.

          I dont like Audi or the BMW but I kind of perfer the A8 over the Mercedes and BMW now.

          An AWD luxury sedan with probably the best interior of the lot? Yep. Ok.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      There are some who prefer, for better or for worse, not to have an “S-Class.” The A8, to non car aficionados, at least in the US, is more of just an Audi. Not the heavily advertised “Flagship” that the S-Class is.

  • avatar
    VW4motion

    A8 definitely looks like a better drivers car over the S class. Don’t see that upside down bathtub look of the MB in the A8.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    I’d take an RS7 over this thing every single time.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Cars like this might be worth the price, if they had a 20-year, 200,000 mile warranty.
    .
    .

    • 0 avatar
      brenschluss

      I’m not sure why they would do that when the car is meant to be replaced every 24-36 months.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      The kind of people who buy them, don’t want to be seen dead in an “old” car. Catering to people who are “financially savvy” with their car buying, is generally less lucrative than catering to those less so. At least in the short run.

  • avatar
    Rasputin

    And people wonder why we have distracted driving?
    A lot of this stuff has nothing to do with actual driving.

    Plus, I completely agree with Chocolatedeath and others – just more sh** to break. And with all the technology stuff, repairs will be extremely expensive.

  • avatar
    SELECTIVE_KNOWLEDGE_MAN

    This car is not made for your market ^^

    It is made for China where Audi A6 currently rules. Case in point: One of the key “innovative” features are scents of Winter and Summer, or other scents of your choosing to be delivered to the interior by retractable vents… Yep. Retractable vents.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Nice car, ugly fascia – reminds me of a Basking shark hoovering plankton.

    The tech & the combustion will likely age quickly in this price market.

  • avatar
    Fred

    If I had a boat load of money I’d buy this car in a flash. After a year or so I’d get tired of it or crash it and buy something else. That’s how we roll, if I had the cash.

  • avatar

    So, I have a ’14 Q7 the dealer principle’s soon-to-be ex-wife is driving that has 52k miles that consumes oil, sometimes has a functioning driver’s power window, sometimes has an MMI interface that blanks out because water is getting…somewhere, and a motor noise that…sometimes…is heard.

    I’m good, Audi. Figure out how to glue a headliner to the roof first.

  • avatar
    Trend-Shifter

    Lincoln Continental called. They want their rear end and body lines back.
    Oh wait no, now it mimics an Audi A8. Chinese will love the Lincoln Continental more!

    A well designed car has me taking a second glance over my shoulder for a second look at the design cues before walking away. In this case they both need a car cover.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I think I’ll always prefer the early 2nd gen version.

    images.newcartestdrive.com/wp-content/uploads/2004/03/04-a8-hero.jpg

    So Audi-like.

  • avatar
    Not_a_luddite

    “However, there is a good chance this will come back to bite them.”

    Cite your sources, pure speculative drivel.

  • avatar
    bd2

    Still won’t trump the S Class in sales (at least in NA).

  • avatar
    W210Driver

    That cabin is gorgeous and looks incredibly comfortable. You’d think Audi used materials which are not found on this planet to create an interior which looks so stunning!

    A shame about the exterior; to me it looks like a mega-facelift for the current A8!

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Eh, a Honda Civic EX has more tech than a W126 but only one of those two is a luxury car.

    Maybe in China stuff like this can win people over, but here in America luxury = slavery to badges.

  • avatar
    tekdemon

    The rear end is very reminiscent of the 2017 Passat’s, with the chrome bar running across, except they’ve extended the red across the trunk. Probably the same designers.

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