The 2019 Audi A8 marks the beginning of a new generation of big Audi sedans. It uses technology to stand out: It sports a predictive active suspension with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system, a dual-screen infotainment system, and rear-axle steering, which make the 2019 A8 the most advanced and comfortable car Audi has ever built.
The new A8 is also more sporty, with a buttery ride. The sole engine for 2019 is a smooth and powerful turbocharged V-6, but coming soon is a twin-turbo V-8. A plug-in hybrid is in the works.
The styling evolves with a wider grille and slimmer LED headlamps, new character lines on the sides, and thinner taillights. It’s chiseled and sober. Inside, some buttons and switches have been replaced by a digital display and two touchscreens. The upper handles navigation and infotainment, while the lower handles climate control. The A8 also has wireless internet access.
The A8’s so smart, its available active suspension uses cameras that scan the road for bumps and ruts, then adjusts in anticipation. It smooths out the ride, and can help mitigate accidents by rising 3.1 inches if it senses imminent impact. Its all-wheel-drive system can divide torque on demand, and available rear-axle steering helps it slip into tight parking spaces easily.
No full-size luxury car is frugal at the pump, but the A8 is not bad, EPA-rated at 19 mpg city, 27 highway, 22 combined.
The Audi A8 3.0T comes fully loaded with automatic high beams, heated 18-way power-adjustable front seats, navigation, a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, 10.3- and 8.6-inch touchscreens for the infotainment system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, a 17-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system, a panoramic sunroof, a power trunk, 19-inch alloy wheels, and automatic emergency braking.
An Executive Package includes wireless phone charging, blind-spot monitors, a surround-view camera system, a head-up display, 22-way adjustable front seats with cooling and a massage function, and an automatic parking system.
An Executive Comfort Rear Seat Package adds heated and cooled rear seats with a massage function and lumbar control, a leather rear center console with fold-out tables, a footrest with foot massage for the right side rear seat.
A Luxury Package includes ambient interior lighting, extended leather, an Alcantara headliner, Valcona leather, aluminum buttons, and an air ionizer with a fragrance dispenser.
A Driver Assistance Package includes an adaptive cruise control system that can control the brakes, steering, and throttle at low speeds and in traffic jams. It requires the driver to keep his/her hands on the wheel.
The new Audi looks more like other Audis than ever. The lines are sharper; it’s 1.5 inches longer with a wider stance (although the width is the same); and there is a bigger grille with six sides. The eye-slit headlamps are even thinner and more complex now.
The A8 has a hint of rear haunches at the end of low and high character lines that run through the door handles. Chrome trim glints around the windows and grille, and along the rocker panels.
The rear has a trunk spoiler, twin exhaust tips, and a full-width taillight bar whose lights flash sequentially upon startup.
The cabin is serene, almost to a fault. A pair of central screens eliminate many buttons. The dash screen does infotainment and Google Earth navigation, while the console screen does climate.
The rest of the cabin could have come straight from Architectural Digest, with its wood, brushed aluminum, and leather.
The standard heated driver’s seat is adjustable 18 ways; the optional seat adjusts 22 ways and adds cooling and massage. The front seats have 1.3 inches more leg room than before, and there are larger door openings making it easier to climb in and out.
The A8 is vast for passengers, but at 12.5 cubic feet, its trunk is only about the size of that in a compact car.
Audi’s 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 makes 335 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. That’s plenty of power, enabling the A8 to accelerate from 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds; it’s smooth and quiet until it’s pushed to a reserved howl. Soon, the A8 will get an available 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 making 460 horsepower.
All-wheel drive is standard, and the 8-speed automatic transmission is refined.
A 48-volt mild hybrid system uses a belt-alternator/starter to run the stop/start system. Engine cycling is barely noticeable, but the system does little to improve fuel economy.
Although it’s longer by 1.5 inches, the new A8 is more agile, thanks in part to the increased rigidity of the chassis. The available rear-axle steering system can turn the rear wheels up to an extreme 5 degrees opposite the fronts, below 37 mph; this substantially reduces the turning radius. An active rear differential keeps the power balanced at the rear wheels, while the air springs counteract body lean through corners.
The ride is sublime. The optional predictive active suspension uses a camera at each front corner to scan the road, sending the images to the car’s computer, which, 18 times per second, reads the images and decides what to do with each wheel to meet the road conditions.
The suspension has programmed modes that allow the car to lean more or less, depending on the mode. In Dynamic mode the A8 feels like a mid-size sport sedan. In Comfort mode the ride becomes soft as a pillow. The modes also change the steering; Comfort is lighter and slower, while Dynamic is heavier and quicker, but always predictable.
The 2019 Audi A8 revels in technology; some of it, including some advanced driver-assistance hardware that steers and brakes the car, has run ahead of what U.S. law permitsâ€”it’s blocked from U.S. cars, for now. It takes a sublime tack on luxury, which makes the new A8 a discreet choice compared to the opulence you’ll find in other big German sedans. Quiet has its virtues.
by Sam Moses, with driving impressions from TheCarConnection.com