At the peak of automotive innovation
The all-new next-generation Audi A8 made its début in style, bringing in a slew of changes, enhancements, and class-leading autonomous driving technology. With updated powertrains making more power and consuming even lesser fuel, the A8, available in standard and longwheelbase guises, brings more technology to the fore than ever before. Audi have strived to raise the bar in the premium luxury segment and the new A8 and 130-mm longer A8 L are testimony to that. The new saloon looks striking, exemplifying Audi’s modern design language, packaging under the skin even more reasons for it to be considered a serious challenger for the very top step of the exclusive class.
Visually, the HD Matrix LED lighting and OLED tail-lamps look absolutely striking. Inside, new fingertip-response controls together with new levels of luxury abound. The rear relaxation seat, behind the front passenger seat, gets a slew of comfort additions, including a foot-massager. Multiple settings are incorporated into the back of the front passenger seat.
Under the shapely bonnet lies one of five combustion engines: 3.0-litre V6 TDI diesel and TFSI petrol six-cylinder choices, 4.0-litre V8 TDI diesel and TFSI petrol eight-cylinder choices, and a new 6.0-litre W12 TFSI turbo-petrol. All engines use a 48-volt electrical system with a belt alternator starter, allowing the car to coast without the engine in operation at all. Mild hybrid and e-tron plug-in hybrid versions will be introduced at a later date.
What really stands out is the car’s autonomous driving capability. Pilot Driving makes its début in the new A8: the first production automobile to have been developed specially for highly automated driving.
Audi AI stands for the concepts of autonomy, intelligence and innovation, aimed at making occupants’ lives easier and journeys safer with the aid of artificial intelligence. Audi AI will also suggest appropriate services after adapting to individual needs, functioning more like a concierge.
In the new A8, the Audi AI traffic jam pilot takes charge of driving in slow-moving traffic at up to 60 km/h on highways where a physical barrier separates the two carriageways. The system is activated using the AI button on the centre console. During piloted driving, a central driver assistance controller (zFAS) now permanently computes an image of the surroundings by merging the sensor data. As well as the radar sensors, a front camera and the ultrasonic sensors, Audi are also the first carmakers to use a laser scanner.
The Audi AI remote parking pilot and the Audi AI remote garage pilot autonomously steer the A8 into and out of a parking space or a garage while the manoeuvre is monitored by the driver. The driver doesn’t have to be inside the car; rather they just need to initiate the appropriate system from their smartphone, using the new myAudi app. To monitor the parking manoeuvre, the Audi AI button can be pressed to watch a live display from the car’s 360° cameras on their device.
The gift of time is what 25th Hour promises. Audi want to provide not just a safe and comfortable ride in their cars, but also take away the responsibility of driving the car from the occupant, allowing them to be just that — occupants. With driving time turned into free time, there is a genuine possibility of accomplishing more in less time, and with the advanced AI systems in development, Audi hope to accomplish just that. Of course, evolving infrastructure, such as the entry of fifth-generation (5G) data transfer rates, will be just as important in making this vision a reality.
( Far Left) Audi AI will be a marked deviation from convention
( Left) Aero and suspension bits sharpen these track-tools even more