Spot the dif­fer­ence: Audi’s new A8 or a NASA Ex­plorer?

The Ger­man lux­ury car­maker’s most ad­vanced four-door doesn’t sac­ri­fice space for new tech, writes Toby Hagon.

Qantas - - CONTENTS -

The fea­Tures list for Audi’s new A8 could be con­fused with that of the lat­est NASA Ex­plorer – vir­tual cock­pit, ma­trix LED lights, air ioniser, nat­u­ral voice recog­ni­tion, mul­ti­ple radars, a laser scan­ner – but you’ll be pleased to know this ride is to­tally ter­res­trial.

For a snip un­der $200,000, there’s a choice of six­cylin­der petrol or diesel, with each model powering all four wheels and also fea­tur­ing a mild hy­brid sys­tem for run­ning the elec­tri­cal com­po­nents, in­clud­ing the stop-start func­tion. There’s 250kW of power from the tur­bocharged petrol V6 en­gine, chan­nelled through an eight-speed auto in a smooth, un­flus­tered man­ner. The elec­tric sys­tem sub­tly re­duces fuel use and al­lows the en­gine to shut down when coast­ing.

The A8 also em­ploys air sus­pen­sion, smoth­er­ing im­per­fec­tions beau­ti­fully as it ac­tively ad­justs to bumps and dips. The op­tional 20-inch wheels clench the road tena­ciously, while all-wheel steer­ing – also op­tional – fur­ther set­tles the four-door body. Which brings us to the ex­te­rior: the A8 ush­ers in Audi’s lat­est de­sign lan­guage, with gen­tle lines and pow­er­ful pro­por­tions. The 5.2-me­tre-long sedan be­lies its near-two-tonne heft once you ramp up the pace. Com­posed largely of alu­minium, it’s wrapped around a struc­ture in­fused with car­bon fi­bre for ad­di­tional strength.

On the in­side, it’s just as rad­i­cal a de­par­ture, with nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als blend­ing with mod­ern fin­ishes for a clean yet suit­ably Teu­tonic look. Space is plen­ti­ful with an ad­di­tional 37 mil­lime­tres in length and a roof raised 13 mil­lime­tres com­pared to the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion. And those want­ing even more room can choose the L model, which adds 130 mil­lime­tres of rear seat space for an ex­tra $15,000. While there are three seat­belts in the back, the cen­tre works best as an arm­rest, with its lengthy cush­ion­ing hous­ing a touch­screen re­mote that gives con­trol of ev­ery­thing from the tem­per­a­ture to the en­ter­tain­ment.

Tech­nol­ogy de­fines Audi’s lat­est flag­ship ve­hi­cle and per­haps the most ad­vanced in­clu­sion is the driver-as­sis­tance sys­tem, which takes over if the per­son be­hind the wheel makes a mis­take – the laser scan­ner builds on the vir­tual, 3D, real-time maps cre­ated by cam­eras and radar. It’ll even warn you if you’re about to scratch the size­able al­loy wheels on a gut­ter.

But there’s no such thing as per­fec­tion (not yet, any­way); sen­sors and cam­eras can oc­ca­sion­ally get con­fused and then it’s back to the hu­man in charge for guid­ance. And, for now, Aus­tralians miss out on ar­guably the most use­ful fea­ture – au­ton­o­mous driv­ing be­low 60km/h – be­cause reg­u­la­tors haven’t ap­proved it yet. The fu­ture of driv­ing might be here but we’ll have to wait just a lit­tle bit longer to fully utilise it.

EN­GINE 3.0-litre V6 turbo petrol TRANS­MIS­SION Eight-speed au­to­matic POWER/TORQUE 250kW/500Nm 0-100KM/H 5.6 sec­onds FUEL CON­SUMP­TION (AV.) 8.2L/100km PRICE $195,000

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.