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New Audi A8 seeks luxury through technology

Audi's new A8 sedan is a luxury powerhouse with impressive tricks in the tech box.

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Valencia, Spain

EXTREME sportscars aside, luxury limousines are the ne plus ultra of a premium carmaker's line-up, and pack all sorts of advanced systems that eventually trickle down to less expensive models.

The A8 limo is the kingpin of Audi's line-up, and that it comes with lots of technology is little surprise. But with this fourth-generation model, Audi has taken technological complexity to an extreme.

It has more than 40 assistance and safety systems, but the pinnacle of these is Traffic Jam Assist (see story below). When engaged, it allows a driver to go hands-free and do other tasks, while it takes over all the driving at speeds below 60km/h.

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Audi boasts that the A8 is the first full-production car to allow this, and while it's an exciting dip of the toes into the the world of true autonomous driving, it helps that the A8 is a solid example of limo breed even without it.

In the looks department, it's elegant, neat and restrained just like its forebears.

While there are interesting technical flourishes, such as the organic LED taillights' start-up sequence, the A8 won't be the first choice for those who like their cars loud. But those who do enjoy their luxury motoring understated and unruffled will.

The turbocharged V6's plentiful pull and torque enable purring, easy forward progress. One new feature is four-wheel steering, something seen on the Audi's arch-rival, the BMW 7 Series, which makes the car more agile, quick to turn and easier to manage at all speeds.

But one dynamic edge it has is what Audi calls AI Suspension, which adds actuator motors to enable the car to make suspension adjustments on the fly. Not only can the system counter driving forces to give a glass-smooth ride, but it can even pre-empt large bumps, completely taking the edge off obstacles as high as 11cm.

As complex as that sounds, all a driver needs to know is that it works so impressively, it's almost techno-magic. In a back-to-back test, it turns a speed hump-riddled road into a rail-smooth journey - something even the best-equipped luxury SUVs can't do.

It's clear the A8 takes technology and performance to the head of its class, but the exact pricing and cost of key options like AI Suspension and all-wheel steering will be known only closer to the Singapore launch date of mid-2018.

That the A8 is at the leading edge of this is of little doubt, but whether customers wish to take advantage of it - at cost optional expense - is another story.

Impressive as the A8 is, the only caveat is just how much bleeding-edge tech of the sort we experienced can be included locally at a competitive price.


Audi A8 L 55 TFSI

  • Engine 2,995cc, 24V, V6, turbocharged
  • Power 340hp at 5000-6400rpm
  • Torque 500Nm at 1370-4500rpm
  • Gearbox 8-speed automatic
  • Top Speed 250km/h
  • 0-100km/h 5.7 seconds
  • Fuel efficiency 7.8L/100km
  • CO2 178g/km
  • Price TBA
  • Agent Premium Automobiles
  • Available Mid-2018