Independent driving, artificial intelligence, individually piloted suspensions, the new 2018 Audi A8 has gone even further than its comrades in the race for technological armaments. Is the German sedan the most sophisticated car of the moment?
The limousine or luxury sedan market is a permanent auction in the race for innovation. After BMW with the 7 Series, Mercedes and its newly restyled S – Class , Audi returns with its fourth and 2018 Audi A8 .
see also : 2019 Audi RS 7 – Up to 700 hp under the hood
The flagship of the brand has offered itself about forty technologies equally sharp as the others. It is especially the first production car to be equipped with a level 3 autonomous driving system, ie without hands! Thanks to a LIDAR (radar that scans the environment) in addition to a battery of ultrasonic sensors and cameras that radiate 360 °, the A8 can take totally if the conditions are united (on highway or fast lanes separated by a rail or a median). For the moment, this system is congested and is active up to 60 km / h. In France, regulations do not yet allow the hand to be released, but it is likely that the legislation will evolve. Unfortunately, we were not able to test this system in real conditions during our test.
The other innovation of choice on the new A8 is undoubtedly the new system of suspensions (very) intelligent. The switching of the 48V power grid (more powerful and above all offering greater responsiveness) allowed engineers to design electromechanical suspensions capable of adapting instantaneously to the situations encountered. Electric motors take care of correcting the wheel plate by wheel and of softening and firming the upstream damping.
In practice, the A8 reads the road with its scanner and detects the layout, the quality of the coating, the defects, etc. The information is sent to a central unit that adjusts the damping to guarantee the passenger a flying carpet effect. A system that totally erases all the usual body movements such as pitching and rolling and guarantees a flying carpet effect. If all the versions have air suspension as standard, only the most high-end (W12) take advantage of the “Audi AI active suspension”. Finally, this system would “lessen” the severity of bodily injury in the event of a side impact by instantly rising 80 mm to the side or intervening the shock. These two major innovations are in addition to a battery of equipment and driving aids that you will find in detail on the next page.
The 2018 Audi A8 like the Mercedes S-Class, my BMW 7 Series or the Porsche Panamera is aimed at a public of professionals, great bosses and heads of state. Remember that its average selling price will easily exceed € 100,000. If it fills up with technologies, this new generation does not change its physiognomy. The style is faithful to the standards of the brand with a nth grille single frame reworked around Matrix LED optics, prominent edges and a rear part which for the shot is unprecedented with optics connected by a chrome line. The gauge of the German extends via the wheelbase ( 30 mm) to reach now 5, 17 m. A long version ( 13 cm) very appreciated by the Chinese customers is also in the catalog.
It is mainly on board that the 2018 Audi A8 evolves. The cockpit is modern in design and ergonomics. Indeed, the buttons disappear in favor of a double touch screen, the use of which is close to a smartphone at the latest, placed at the foot of the center console and which groups all comfort controls. In general, this system burying that of the S-Class in its ease of use and its reactivity. Is it necessary to specify that the quality of manufacture is simply exceptional? Leather, wood, brushed aluminum, each material is assembled at close detail.
Gadget fans will appreciate the air vents deployed at the Jaguar start-up or the tactile airflow adjustment or why not the foot massage system on long versions and why not the nomad touch pad dedicated to the rear passengers which allows to configure the atmosphere and the comfort (clim ‘, massage, brightness, TV, Wi-Fi, etc.) at leisure. The space on board is royal but the quality of the seats is superior to the edge of the last Class S. Let’s finish this big turn of the owner by a black point. The electrically operated door handles are coupled to the blind spot detector to prevent the door from opening if a vehicle or cyclist is approaching. The rest of the time, the opening of the door takes place in two pulses, which can be painful to long. The volume of the boot is in progress, with 505 liters.
2018 Audi A8 On the road Review : comfort and safety
A high-end car, high-end engines. The 2018 Audi A8 starts its offer with two gasoline and diesel V6 (286 hp and 340 hp), continues with two gasoline and diesel V8 (435 and 460 hp) and crown all on the limousine version by a W12 6.0. A rechargeable e-Tron hybrid version (50 km of electric autonomy) of 449 hp will also be launched later.
The new A8 is also the first to display the new, and can not be more complicated, name by category of power in kw (from 30 to 70) that will diversify throughout the range. It was therefore at the wheel of a “A8 L 55 TFsi” of 340 hp that we carried out this first test. Finally, “test” is a great word as the car already does everything, all by itself.
As explained above, we have not been able to test the state-of-the-art autonomous driving system that manages everything up to 60 km / h, which is not available for testing, but we were able to compare the semi-autonomous driving system that manages acceleration, braking and track maintenance. And it must be noted that it is less efficient than that of the S-Class. If the 2018 Audi A8 handles gas and braking rather well but it (too) louvoie between the two lines before correcting its trajectory. Unlike its competitor it also does not manage the changes in queue.
It is mainly its intelligent damping system that we have had the opportunity to test. In conjunction with the Audi Drive Select system, it provides an exceptional level of comfort. In motion, the 5 meters and two tons of the A8 turn flat regardless of the speed in turn. The car anticipates and keeps a plate as flat as the horizon where a “classic” car would support. When an imperfection is detected the A8 softens the shock absorber and absorbs without a brow a big pothole. The result is an exceptional level of comfort and a feeling of cocoon on board. Finally, soundproofing worthy of a recording studio.
Dynamic side also, these suspensions bring a plus, especially when they are associated with an all-wheel drive and steering rear wheels (option). Speaking of agility would be fortuitous here, but the sedan of more than 5 meters compensates its XXL wheelbase thanks to the latter. Traction is simply exceptional. Absolutely all the power goes to the ground to tape the German bitumen. So, the 340 hp V6 despite its maximum torque of 500 Nm seems almost right. Finally, the velocity and enjoyment of the 8-speed S-Tronic box, which is at the level of its direct competitor, the ZF.
3. Equipment: at the forefront of modernity
To date, the construction of range for the French market has not yet been established. The 2018 Audi A8 will be available at the end of the year. In France the rates start at 97,900 € in sedan and 105,800 € in Limousine.
Among the arsenal of equipment available the sedan will offer on the high finishes or in the form of options, the autonomous driving system, the active suspension mentioned previously and an automatic parking system. The latter allows the A8 to return alone in its garage even if the driver is not on board.
In addition to this, the firm has equipped its model with an artificial intelligence system that allows the driver to interact with the car. For example, if one says to him “I’m cold”, it will raise the temperature. As the A8 will be able to anticipate the desires of its occupants by setting also the style of driving: scary or fascinating, it is up to you to see.
Past this course, known driving aids such as tracking aid or self-adaptive regulator would almost pass for tacky.
The high-tech point: shock absorbers that supply electricity
Subsequently, the 2018 Audi A8 is expected to inaugurate the eROT (electromechanical rotary) technology, which transforms the oscillations of the suspension into electrical energy. Today, the kinetic energy due to bumps, holes, and other irregularities of the roadway is transformed into heat.