Automakers transmit a message when they introduce a new model. They all wax on about the benefits of their vehicle when compared to the competition. Now entering its fourth generation, the all-new 2019 A8 ushers in what Audi calls “Future Premium.”
The exterior design is crafted to join Audi’s broad, upright Singleframe grille and a commanding stance with a flowing, muscular body scheme that highlights the stunning 19-inch, 15-spoke front and rear wheels; definition at the wheel arches calls attention to the standard quattro all-wheel drive. The flat roof dome adds a sporty touch, while stretched lines underscore its length and opulent presence. State-of-the-art LED lighting punctuates the front and features a dramatic full-length strip of dynamic illumination in back.
While the outside is breathtaking, the inside welcomed me to a sumptuous and serene cabin replete with useful technology and seamless connectivity, including voice interaction with natural language processing for MMI commands and vehicle functions.
I appreciated the large 12.3-inch virtual cockpit that can be fully controlled via the steering wheel. Piano black surfaces and brushed aluminum highlight two stacked (10.3-inch upper and 8.6-inch lower) touch display screens that manage frequently accessed MMI and infotainment functions.
The Valetta leather interior features heated 18-way power front seats with lumbar adjustment and seat memory. For ultimate rear-passenger comfort, an available heated massaging footrest is discretely positioned behind the front passenger seat; back-seat passengers can also opt to customize seating and infotainment preferences using a smartphone-sized OLED remote control unit.
Audi’s flagship has been tapped to present industry-leading technologies, such as an automotive laser scanner with a wide horizontal range to help provide detailed, contoured images that measure distance and orientation of objects ahead.
Together with the vehicle’s long-range radar and front camera, the system helps operate cutting-edge driver assistance features such as Adaptive Cruise Assist (which manages acceleration, braking, and steering at low speed and in traffic jam situations), Intersection Assist (which helps avoid low-speed collisions with cross traffic in front of the car when entering an intersection or when leaving a parking space with an obstructed view), and Audi pre sense 360 (which detects potential collision hazards all around the car and initiates specific preventative measures to protect the driver and passengers).
I was also impressed by an Exit Assist system that uses an electronic latch system to delay opening of the door if a vehicle or bike rider is approaching, and an Emergency Assist system that detects if the driver is unresponsive and brings the car to a stop in its lane, engages emergency hazard lights, and places an emergency SOS call.
I drove the new model along the Pacific Coast Highway in the Big Sur region of northern California, with views that soothe the heart and roadways that allowed the A8’s driving prowess to shine.
Its 3.0-liter V-6 turbocharged engine with fuel-saving start/stop technology creates 335 horsepower and 369 lb.-ft. of torque, which moves it quickly, when desired. A standard new 48-volt electric mild-hybrid drivetrain supports the engine and functions as the main vehicle electrical system enabling the advanced infotainment and luxury equipment.
Power is shifted via a smooth-shifting eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, with all the benefits of a standard quattro all-wheel drive system with a self-locking center differential. Audi boasts 0-to-60-mph acceleration of 5.6 seconds and a top speed of 130 mph. The starting price is $83,800.