On the stand at the LA Auto Show is the all-new 2019 Audi A8, the brand’s new flagship luxury sedan that showcases new design language, a heightened level of user technologies and a new approach to engineering form.
The fourth generation A8 is the first from the brand to wear a new design direction first shown to us in the Prologue concept car last year. If you think of past Audi design detail and DNA, streamline and simplify it and you have the new deal.
Lines are simpler, straighter. Slabs of its aluminum skin are flatter. It’s styling is evolutionary no doubt but new details set it apart such as the available HD Matrix LED headlights and OLED tail lamps add new interest to its shape. Aside of such nuances, it’s decidedly more conservative if not austere in its presentation, a trend we are seeing across many brands in this new era of automotive design.
Only fractionally larger overall, the 2019 Audi A8 retains its wheelbase with the outgoing models. Of note is a new multi-metal body structure that uses a very expensive and highly engineered combination of materials to save weight while increasing strength and rigidity.
The space frame consists of both high strength and conventional steels but also uses a vast array of aluminum castings at critical join and twist points – a way to increase rigidity without extra weight. Aluminum sheeting is then used for most expanses of its shell including its outer skin.
As you dig deeper you will also find magnesium, aluminum tube structures and high tensile castings with bionic design qualities that provide immense strength with light weight Not enough, there’s also carbon fiber reinforced plastics with fibers aligned to structural load paths.
While various powertrains and models will come, the 2019 Audi A8 will launch in North America in the short wheelbase version with a new mild-hybrid powertrain consisting of a 3.0-liter V6 twin- turbocharged engine and a 48-volt electric mild-hybrid drivetrain.
The system provides mild electric motive power for coast and mild take offs from a start, allowing seamless operation of the gasoline engine auto-start-stop system such that its operation becomes less obtrusive than with non-hybrid powertrains.
With regenerative braking and enough electric power to sustain the A8 at speed, the powertrain delivers increased efficiency in addition to its 340 horsepower and 368 pound feet of torque. Power goes to all four-wheels through standard Quattro drive and an eight-speed automatic or TipTronic transmission.
The chassis too offers up several new technologies staring with dynamic all-wheel steering which can turn wheels parallel at high speeds for increased stability or tighten steering radius in parking or windy road maneuvers with opposite steer.
Also available is a new electro-mechanical adaptive suspension that uses actuators to increase or decrease the load on each wheel individually as opposed to hydraulically controlled variable damping as is most common.
Using the 48 volt electrical system now native to the A8, it can vary the ride control from soft and comfortable to stiff and aggressive feel. Most importantly as it works much faster than hydraulic systems it can meter the surface and adjust such that it can literally float over road imperfections. Sounds good, but a drive test is in order to see if it really delivers.
Behind the wheel the 2019 Audi A8 delivers what you have always expected from the brand but with more of that simplified sleek design we saw on the outside. Like many modern interiors, materials and flowing lines now combine with smooth expanses of shiny screens to create a new look that is decidedly futuristic.
Buttons and knobs are minimized with touch sensitive controls increased. An all-new driver interface continues the innovations of previous systems, now called MMI Touch Response. Two large touchscreens at the center display vast information sets in concert with the virtual cockpit display ahead of the driver.
The touchscreen operates various climate control and convenience features, text entry through a virtual keyboard and the free form finger writing we first saw with Audi. The features and capabilities here are all too long to list for our presentation, but know that it will allow for not only endless possibilities but customization as well.
For your rear seat passengers, the technologies are there too. There’s optional and customizable Matrix LED reading lights, reclining and heated massage seating, fully adjustable head rests, and footrests. The center console and armrests can even be heated and of course dual rear seat entertainment too can be had.
In addition to a vast array of the latest advanced driver assistance and safety systems with features too long to list, you can also have traffic jam assist, as well as park and garage pilot programs to take care of that nasty task for you. Additionally, a Level 3 automated driving capability will be offered – really an entirely separate presentation all together.
The all-new 2019 Audi A8 in this form will arrive late next year with pricing and final specs to follow closer to that time. Expect also additional news on other variants. A long wheel-base A8L and/or an higher performance S8 are certainly hoped for, if not expected.