Is the A8 Audi’s answer to “Home, James”?
Audi has just revealed the all-new 2018 Audi A8, their largest, most luxurious sedan and scheduled to go on sale this fall. Does it have power? Yes. Elegant style and creature comforts? Of course. But it’s the car’s technology and autonomous driving capabilities that stand out.
The 2018 Audi A8 features a comprehensive autonomous driving system named the ‘Audi AI Traffic Jam Pilot’. This system will control the car in slow-moving traffic up to 37.3 MPH (60 KmH) managing acceleration, steering, and braking. The driver will be able to take their hands off the wheel and divert their attention to something else, like the car’s on board video screen or, most likely, their phone.
Furthermore, the driver no longer needs to be in the car while it parks and retrieves itself from a parking space. The car can be summoned via a smartphone app to whatever location you desire.
So why is all of this technology so important? When we look at manufacturers of premium automobiles, we’ve noticed a trend in the market towards high technology, self driving cars, especially amongst big executive sedans. Vehicles like the Mercedes S-Class and the Tesla Model S are both full of autonomous driving tech with more added with every iteration. Taken together, it appears that luxury car makers are re-defining the category by their top-shelf sedans’ ability to drive themselves, not necessarily on the merits of their sedans’ styling, ride, and high-end interior comforts. It’s a slow return to the days of yore where you had someone drive you around. But instead barking out the command, “Home, James” to the chauffeur, you’ll bark out the command to the car, and it’ll take care of the rest.
Needless to say, it’ll make the job of reviewing cars, um, different.
The A8 will feature a new 10.1-inch touch screen infotainment system. Rather than the traditional buttons, the Audi uses only fingertip controls to manage things like navigation, and entertainment. A second set of touchscreen buttons, located on another screen set below the infotainment screen, can be used for air conditioning and comfort controls. Voice controls are also available for most of these functions.
In the US, we will be limited to a 460 horsepower, 4.0-liter turbocharged V8 as well as a 340 horsepower, 3.0-liter turbocharged V6. We don’t expect to be seeing the TDI engines for sale here. Same with the massive V12 on sale in Europe.
While you wait, why not check out another one of Audi’s range-topping models, the Audi Q7: