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Driven: Luxurious Audi A8 glides in

Stretched limo: The A8 is available in standard guise and in long-wheelbase guise that adds 130mm to the wheelbase.

Fourth-generation Audi A8 hits showrooms ahead of new-model rollout


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20 Jul 2018

AUDI Australia’s fourth-generation A8 limousine will spearhead a new-model rollout in the second half of this year that will reinvigorate its large and upper-large model range, and provide the company with a modest sales boost.
The latest tech-focused A8 leads the charge, hitting showrooms this week ahead of the A7 Sportback in the fourth quarter of this year. This will be followed by the closely related new-gen A6 and recently-revealed Q8 SUV in quarter one, 2019.
Volumes in the premium upper-large sedan segment where the A8 plays are traditionally low and the big Audi has averaged about 83 sales a year since the previous D4-series launched in Australia in 2011.
However, Audi Australia managing director Paul Sansom said the new-model rollout would reignite interest in company’s larger passenger car offerings, both from existing Audi owners and from buyers loyal to other brands.
“We’ve got an opportunity in the second half of this year and beyond of launching all those four cars in these top segments – the A6, the A7, the A8 and the Q8,” he told GoAuto at the A8 media launch in Sydney. 
“So there’s a great proposition for both our loyal customers, who are already in Audi, to offer them something new and so technologically advanced as these new cars. But also to conquest some new customers as well. I think that’s what is important.” 
Mr Sansom said that Audi would not set “lofty targets” for the A8 or any of the coming large models, but signalled improved value for customers in the new cars, led by the circa-$38,000 worth of extra kit in the new-gen A8 compared with the previous model.
“These segments are fairly small segments in comparison to some others in the marketplace, so we’re going to set realistic targets for these cars. But we definitely are anticipating some segment share growth in all of the segments that we’ll be represented in,” he said.
“Because the up-to-$38,000 worth of additional value we put into the A8, you can expect to see a theme coming through for all of the new cars we’re going to bring to market.
“Because that’s very much part of our strategy, to get more people into Audi, to experience Audi at the top end because it definitely has … the halo effect on the bottom end as well, all through the range right down to our A1. So yeah, we’re anticipating an uplift in sales in all segments.”
As previously reported, Audi is offering the A8 from launch with one diesel and a petrol V6 turbocharged powertrain with mild hybrid technology, both in regular and long-wheelbase guise, kicking off with the A8 50 TDI from $192,000 excluding on-road costs.
The petrol 55 TFSI adds $3000 to the price of the diesel to start at $195,000, while opting for the long-wheelbase ‘L’ version of either variant adds $15,000 to the price.
In terms of its key rivals, the A8 undercuts the starting price of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class ($195,600), Jaguar XJ ($210,120) and BMW 7 Series ($226,900), but it is a little pricier than the freshly launched Lexus LS ($190,500).
In some international markets, the A8 is offered with a 430kW W12 powertrain that is not on the cards for Australia, however Audi’s local branch is considering the plug-in hybrid 330kW A8 e-tron as part of its plan to boost its electrified model range.
Audi’s local A8 line-up is expected to be eventually topped by a performance-focused S8 variant that is yet to be revealed or confirmed in new-generation guise.
The previous S8 was powered by a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 pumping out 445kW/700Nm in S8 Plus guise, and it made up approximately 25-30 per cent of all A8 sales at its peak.
The 5172mm-long A8 and 5302mm A8 L are both 37mm longer than their outgoing equivalents, and the respective wheelbases of 2998mm and 3128mm are 6mm longer. This has freed up an extra 32mm of interior length, according to Audi, while headroom is up by 14mm.
At 1945mm wide, the A8 is 4mm narrower than before, but height of 1473mm (A8) and 1488mm (A8 L) is up 13mm and 17mm respectively.
The A8 50 TDI is powered by a 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 diesel delivering 210kW from 3750-4000rpm and 600Nm from 1250-3250rpm, while the 55 TFSI uses a 3.0-litre turbo V6 petrol pumping out 250kW at 5000-6000rpm and 500Nm at 1370-4500rpm.
Both powertrain variants are paired with an eight-speed tiptronic transmission that drives all four wheels via Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system.
The two powertrains include Audi’s 48-volt mild hybrid system that includes a compact lithium-ion battery under the floor of the cargo area with a capacity of 10Ah, and a belt alternator starter connected to the crankshaft.
Audi says it can help improve fuel consumption by 0.7 litres per 100km in “actual driving”.
If the driver takes their foot off the accelerator, the A8 can coast with the engine off between 55 to 160km/h, allowing it to travel with zero emissions for up to 40 seconds. Once the accelerator is engaged again the engine restarts. The idle-stop system operation is enabled from 22km/h.
Acceleration from 0-100km/h for the petrol A8 is 5.6 (5.7s for the L) and the diesel takes 5.9s.
The 50 TDI consumes 5.9 litres per 100km and emits 154g/km of CO2 (the L is 6.0L and 155g), while the 55 TFSI in both regular and long-wheelbase guise uses 8.2L/100km and 186g/km.
The A8 is built on the same Volkswagen Group MLBevo platform that underpins the Q7, new-gen A6 and A7, and third-generation VW Touareg and Porsche Cayenne, among others.
Audi’s Space Frame structure that debuted on the original A8 in 1994 has evolved and is now made up of aluminium, steel, magnesium and carbon fibre-reinforced polymer and the company says body rigidity has improved by 24 per cent compared to the previous A8.
The A8’s suspension setup is a five-link design for the front and rear axle, and it is offered as standard with adaptive air suspension with hydraulically controlled dampers and four selectable ride height levels.
From next year, the A8 will be available with Audi’s AI active suspension that has electromechanical actuators on all four wheels, which the company says will provide various options “between comfort and sportiness”.
Progressive steering is standard and a dynamic all-wheel steering system is offered as an option. The latter reduces the turning circle by one metre to 11.4 metres in the regular A8 and 11.4 in the L.
Standard safety gear on all A8s includes adaptive drive assist including adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go, distance indicator and lane guidance assist, 360-degree surround-view cameras with 3D view, Audi pre-sense front and pre-sense rear, lane departure warning, lane changing warning with rear cross-traffic alert, an exit warning system, emergency assist, collision avoidance assist and turn assist, intersection assist, and a front centre airbag that Audi says is a segment first.
Just some of the standard equipment includes HD Matrix LED headlights, LED tail-lights, panoramic glass sunroof, MMI Navigation plus with MMI touch response 10.1-inch and 8.6-inch touchscreens with haptic and acoustic feedback, Audi virtual cockpit digital instrument cluster, Audi connect and DAB+ Digital Radio, Audi smartphone interface, a Bang & Olufsen 3D 730W sound system with 17 speakers, two front and two rear USB outlets, rear seat remote control, Matrix LED reading lights in the rear seat, and 15-spoke 19-inch alloy wheels.
As expected Audi is offering a number of options packages, ranging from an $11,000 premium plus package, a $9950 sport package and a $9950 full leather package.
Long-wheelbase variants are available with an $18,500 executive package that adds two individual rear contour seats, electrically adjustable with four-way lumbar support, folding tables in rear centre console, extended centre console, front and rear seat ventilation and massage function, a front and rear heat comfort package with heated armrests in the doors and centre armrests, and a heated steering wheel, as well as a relaxation seat function for the passenger side rear seat that includes a footrest with heated foot massage function.

2018 Audi A8 pricing*

50 TDI (a) $192,000
55 TFSI (a) $195,000
L 50 TDI (a) $207,000
L 55 TFSI (a) $210,000

*Excludes on-road costs

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