When’s the final time you bought into any car, as driver or passenger, and felt such as you’d simply entered a sanctuary of types? Sitting cross-legged with a meditation guru, I contemplated that very query as he tried to steer me in a mindfulness session. Moments later, transcended into Audi’s new flagship luxurious vessel, the 2019 A8 L, my thoughts was something however nonetheless. Settled in for a drive via California’s magnificent Huge Sur, I anticipated what the Pacific Coast Freeway and the brand new A8 would reveal.
A platform targeted on focus
Meditation and the brand new Audi A8? Audi is positioning the subsequent era A8 as a luxurious cellular retreat. The place industry-leading know-how takes a backseat to an expertise targeted on occupant peace-of-mind.
Keep in mind the times when luxurious was an opulent, ungainly land boat sporting a dashboard of chromed buttons and extremely polished Cocobolo paneling? Based on Audi, ostentatious, conspicuous vulgarity is out — understated, ‘mindful luxury’ is in. And, their new flagship is positioned as the research on this new definition.
Dr. Kyra Bobinet, MD MPH, writer and skilled in conduct and neuroscience design, partnered with Audi for the A8 launch occasion I attended, the place she defined the info guiding Audi’s expertise design.
“This first wave of smart technologies have been proven to disrupt and overwhelm our minds’ abilities to engage in quality problem solving. To resolve this, this next generation of designers are moving away from garish luxury and feature-rich technology. The cutting edge of design is all about wellbeing design — using simplification and restraint that allows the brain to reset and focus.”
It seems Audi has taken this to coronary heart with the 2019 A8. Aiming to ship a new type of luxurious in a well-being platform that automates or strips away the pointless, the thought is to allow you to assume and benefit from the expertise at hand, be it a concentrate on driving, or decompressing within the again seat.
It might sound hokey, however bear with me. I feel Audi have confirmed this concept out.
Exterior design: From Prologue idea to A8 actuality
Seeing the 2019 Audi A8 L within the flesh is hanging. Particularly as you think about that a lot of the language and intent of the car’s design is immediately derived from Audi’s 2014 Prologue Idea. If any producer has been proficient on translating idea automobiles into actuality, Audi is definitely proving that that they don’t make false guarantees.
It’s clearly seen how the clear simplicity of Prologue has been resolved into the A8’s type: the ever-widening Singleframe grill, the robust horizontal wrap-around strains, and lighting styling have all survived, albeit with a discernible sharpening-up of sure elements of the physique, which truly makes the entrance and rear-end look higher than the unique idea. Such is the success of the design’s translation that the A8 really seems as a Four-door execution of the Prologue.
When evaluating Audi’s providing on this class, they’ve delivered the subtler of remedies for giant luxurious saloons on supply from Germany and Japan. Except for the grille and a splash of silver on the edges, the A8 doesn’t use many shiny visible units to speak its rank, so it’s straightforward on the eyes, but it nonetheless has a sense of presence on the street. In Europe you possibly can downplay the looks of the A8 much more with the ever-popular Black Optics Package deal, however US consumers won’t be so lucky, at the very least not on preliminary launch.
Talking of street presence, the US market receives the lengthy wheelbase as commonplace, therefore the L designation on the A8 we drove. This configuration provides 5” to its size — however when viewing the A8 from its aspect profile, it seems lengthy, however not awkwardly so.
One considerably bothersome function, when you flip your eyes to the rear of the A8, is what at first look seems to be twin tail pipes. There are literally simply dimensional graphic parts that echo the geometries of the tail lights. As an alternative the exhausts are hidden beneath the physique. Bringing this up with the Audi design workforce, they are saying the intent behind that is to create uniformity throughout the road. One can assume actual — and visual — tail pipes will reside on different variations of the A8.
General, the A8 efficiently delivers a forward-leaning path for the model, and when taking a look at competing automakers, offers an ownable visible design language that’s clear and intentionally understated. Whereas many might criticize Audi for an virtually somber aesthetic, my private opinion is such that Audi proudly supplies a welcome oasis from producers chasing regional developments which might be being thrust upon international audiences. The A8 exterior is a stalwart instance of Audi’s willpower in delivering on their philosophy of restrained tastefulness.
Inside expertise: Clever know-how for the mind and the drive
Don’t for a single second anticipate that Audi’s strategy of protecting tech out of the best way means stripping away all of the digital whiz-bangery for an analog-only expertise (sorry analog purists, maintain lobbying). As an alternative they’ve taken two approaches: simplify the expertise or get tech out of the best way so you’ll be able to concentrate on what you’re doing — driving or being pushed.
95% of human behaviors are automated. The Audi workforce endeavored to strip away as a lot muddle and static from the expertise and emulate this human conduct precept within the design of the A8. What this appears like belies the complexity and technological achievements essential to ship one thing that’s extra superior than anything at present available on the market. No imply feat when you think about the choices from the likes of Mercedes, BMW and even Lexus. How Audi package deal and ship that is the place the magic occurs.
Let’s begin with the inside design. Audi designers need those that enter the A8 to really feel welcomed with open arms, and as soon as the door closes, surrounded in a snug embrace. On putting one’s posterior within the A8’s noticeably snug leather-based seats, your consideration shifts to the cleanliness of the strains and cozy stability of supplies. It’s the antithesis of many upper-echelon luxurious automobiles that typically that on the looks of a ‘mood-board smorgasbord.’ As an alternative you’re introduced with a well-appointed, minimalistic assortment of matching textures and tones, that wouldn’t be out of place in a trendy downtown house’s inside. To my eye, probably the most pleasing inside mixture was the Sarder Brown leather-based with the pure Ash timber inlays, a chic grey-brown shade harking back to darkish espresso.
Nevertheless, In case you are actually insistent on extra anticipated inside combos, such as walnut panelling with heat leather-based tones, they’re provided, however aren’t as sharp as the extra trendy tonal choices. The ‘classic’ tones virtually really feel like the inside designers acquiescence to previous gross sales date fairly than completeness of Audi’s imaginative and prescient. Do your self a favor, go Sarder Brown.
There are distinct horizontal layers inside the cabin that wraps round from the entrance console to the doorways. It’s not simply straightforward on the eyes, every band denotes perform. The place attainable, performance has been consolidated into contact screens or multifunction buttons, typically hidden from view, together with the air vents which are coated when not in use. What seems as a extensive, flowing piano-black panel, upon start-up, reveals two giant contact screens. All of the issues on this black layer are made for interplay: vehicular perform, surroundings and private setting controls.
The topmost display delivers media, navigational and car setting, and the show under it accommodates all surroundings controls, seat settings and different consolation choices. A pleasant development from the earlier A8, with most features contained in the A8 positioned inside attain and in a logical circulate. Screens, buttons and panels are all tightly fitted within the cockpit, and the end feels really bespoke.
The A8 flaunts the second era of Digital Cockpit Plus. With larger decision, quicker processing and a smoother scrolling show, the digital expertise now extends to the remainder of the cabin with the media middle and environmental controls built-in into one system.
Whereas there was a lot gnashing of tooth concerning the removing of bodily buttons and changing them with screens, after having pushed the A8 for a day, you shortly develop into accustomed to the format of the screens and strategies of interplay. For probably the most half, I obtained into a rhythm of find out how to work together with the contact display, save a number of moments whereas driving, looking for seat features that had been obtainable as bodily buttons within the earlier era A8. The newest era of MMI — Audi’s infotainment, navigation and communication system — works a lot the identical method as some other contact display does, together with the power for customers to customise the shows by shifting icons round on the display as you’d on any trendy sensible gadget. Partaking with it feels extremely acquainted, identical to utilizing your sensible telephone.
Acknowledging that whereas bodily controllers permit a consumer to succeed in and provoke a perform from muscle reminiscence, albeit a single use perform, digital display variations of controllers require a totally different variety interplay to permit customers to remain targeted on the street. Audi discovered that customers shortly grew accustomed to working the show via their peripheral imaginative and prescient utilizing perform shade affiliation — every perform has a shade assigned to it that’s constant via all Audi automobiles.
This shade is activated on finger-hover over an icon, that then provides a good discernible click on felt within the finger when pushed, offered by the built-in haptic engine behind every display. After utilizing this technique, you shortly miss it once you drive a car with out it in ‘dumb touch screens’ — however with solely a day behind the wheel of the brand new A8, the jury continues to be out on whether or not Audi’s implementation is nice, or merely simply good.
Audi’s inside designers are so assured, or maybe deeply enamored by the aesthetic simplicity that screens supply, that they might have sucked in each single button and change into this technique have been it not for pesky laws that required they hold a sure variety of features as ‘real’ buttons. Whereas the show surfaces are a designer’s dream in simplifying the inside, partially they have been an inevitable necessities, because of the ever-growing variety of options and controls being added to every new era of auto.
With the brand new shows, greater than 30 buttons have disappeared. Even the air vent controls have little capacitive contact surfaces with audible clicks — they work properly, however is it an excessive amount of of a good factor?. How lengthy the black polished surfaces stay utterly fingerprint free is as much as you and a sprucing material, which was maybe solely one among my few reservations with this strategy.
Nevertheless, utilizing a single digit to push buttons is so 2018 — pure writing recognition and voice instructions are the best way of the longer term. Therefore the A8 options pure handwriting recognition, the place you’ll be able to write whole locations onto the contact display, a leap ahead from the start-stop particular person character enter of earlier methods. Alternatively, you’ll be able to speak to your A8 utilizing its onboard voice recognition that will help you in a multitude of the way, from straightforward duties like altering temperature settings to discovering a espresso store, you’ll even get fed the highest three Yelp evaluations to make sure you decide the best spot.
Ranging from the second you step out of your own home, Audi needs to be your full end-to-end journey concierge. For instance, finding a espresso home is however step one — when you’ve recognized the perfect purveyor of floor beans, to make sure you get that caffeine hit as quickly as attainable, Audi has a slew of methods to get you there quicker. Your A8 is fed real-time visitors mild info, telling you the velocity it is advisable take to make every mild (inside the restrict of the regulation of-course), or if it’s about to vary.
There are seven cities within the US that have already got related sensible lights — together with, Vegas, Palo Alto, Washington DC— based mostly on municipality, with extra coming on-line. Then as you strategy your coffeeshop, your A8 will allow you to discover parking by way of parking search help, and completely park by way of Park Help in case your driver has the time off. It doesn’t cease there both. Utilizing the myAudi app, there’s continued course if it is advisable stroll to your vacation spot if it’s inside a mall, making certain a continuity of expertise from car to last caffeination vacation spot.
Getting there, behind the Audi A8 supplies its personal targeted expertise. First, the area within the again is capacious. There’s no means you’ll be bruising your knees on the again of the entrance seats, the truth is there’s sufficient room to comfortably stretch out. It’s with out reserve, a first-class area. The rear seats have multidirectional changes, and the in-seat massagers have been up to date with further therapeutic massage nodes for each the entrance and rear seats. I already think about Audi to ship best-in-class seat massagers, and the up to date techniques within the A8 proceed this custom. To additional improve your consolation, an air-quality package deal for ionization and aromatization is on the market, as are heated middle and door armrests to additional improve consolation.
Passengers within the again can use both a detachable distant within the folding handset, or the fastened middle console that replaces the center rear seat within the Four-seat package deal, to regulate the setting within the rear. Controlling all of the anticipated options, such as temperature, seats and infotainment system, with the addition of a neat new directional lighting function. Specifically, a Matrix LED within the ceiling that permits you to choose precisely the place the sunshine will fall and the way extensively it’s forged, nice for making certain your private wellness e-book is completely lit as your ft are pampered within the heated massaging footrest. Each are elective options, nevertheless it’s BYO wellness e-book.
To additional give you a area away from all of it, blinds for the rear, aspect home windows can be found, as is dual-pane acoustic glass. Naturally.
Nevertheless, if the area within the again goes to be extra about productiveness as you shuttle between board conferences, then you definitely’ll probably recognize the folding productiveness tables and make the most of the massive and brightly lit shows behind the entrance seats.
The designers and engineers behind the A8 are understanding greater than ever the myriad of the way we need to use our automobiles, and the A8 supplies a imaginative and prescient into how they’re fulfilling our wants, whereas making certain we do it in a protected, environment friendly, useful and peaceable method. Time will show out whether or not Audi’s degree of seen know-how is the proper stability, particularly having sucked all of the bodily buttons into screens, however out of the gate, it’s not horrible.
Mid-size really feel, full-bodied options
Driving the A8 is as clean as you’d anticipate of a luxurious saloon, however whenever you’re behind the wheel, what’s sudden is that it feels a lot smaller and simpler to drive than a lengthy wheelbase car ought to. That includes Dynamic All-wheel Steering, you quickly overlook you’re driving the longest providing in Audi’s line-up. This function provides the A8 a smaller turning ratio than the A4. Not solely usable at low speeds inside cramped parking tons, it offers smoother directional modifications at speeds over 35 miles an hour.
Audi had laid out a course to show this tech, full with tight turns for low-speed maneuvering and high-speed directional modifications. I drove the course first with the system turned off after which once more with Dynamic All-wheel Steering switched on. The distinction was greater than mildly noticeable. This additionally translated into carving the curves across the Pacific Coast Freeway, delivering a extra partaking drive than I assumed attainable with such a giant automotive.
The model I drove is the primary of three formally introduced drivetrain choices — the A8 L powered by a TFSI V6, producing 335 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque..
This V6 is definitely targeted on stability, the turbocharged engine offered a clean pull for a snug drive alongside the Pacific Coast Freeway. When pushed, it delivered robust — albeit a little delayed — acceleration to permit for assured passing of that traffic-blocking bane of coastal thoroughfares, the nomadic RV. Even when in Sport Dynamic guide mode at full throttle, solely a barely extra pressing hum emanated from the entrance finish, sufficient to let you recognize the V6 was doing all of your bidding, however not sufficient to upset the temper contained in the cabin.
The dynamic is what one may anticipate of the facility to weight ratio of a Four,751 pound car, so if quickly operating by means of the cogs for a swift dash to hurry is your want, the V6 will do a enough job, however chances are you’ll want to await the Four.Zero-liter Eight-cylinder A8 model that has been slated for the summer time of 2019. A plug-in hybrid eTron model of the V6 can also be promised for supply in 2019, and a 6.Zero-liter W12 has been hinted at being within the works.
With this era, Audi have launched a 48-volt mild-hybrid drivetrain system that recuperates energy to feed again into the upgraded electrical system, powering the infotainment system and different onboard gear, as nicely as aiding the TFSI engine. Audi says this technique helps present a smoother and extra responsive drive, particularly when shutting down the engine whereas stopped or coasting. When driving the A8, it labored so properly that always I didn’t even discover this operation happening.
Including additional journey consolation is the newest iteration of Audi’s air suspension. Whereas fairly enough by itself, it may be additional enhanced with a package deal that features Predictive Lively Suspension know-how. It wasn’t put in on the fashions I drove, however I used to be capable of expertise in on a closed-circuit demo. Predictive Lively Suspension dynamically lifts and lowers every particular person wheel as much as three.three inches (80 mm), based mostly on knowledge fed from a forward-facing digital camera.
This smooths most bumps and potholes you’d expertise on a common street. Within the demonstration, it offered an virtually surreal sensation of floating, particularly as you brace your self for the anticipated shock you’d usually anticipate from a three” excessive metallic platform that Audi used to simulate a bump, after which… nothing. Typically the one indication you’d have that one thing was occurring was a very delicate thud transmitted by means of the wheels as they encountered the impediment. You possibly can see how the wheels easily individually increase and decrease in sluggish movement within the video under.
In addition to providing occupants a smoother experience, the added advantages of Predictive Lively Suspension is mitigated brake dive when coming to a cease, physique roll discount by means of corners, and extra importantly, the system can increase the aspect of the automotive to mitigate damage to occupants within the case of an anticipated aspect impression. We skilled a simulated collision and the A8 shortly elevated the aspect that was about to be impacted in anticipation of a t-bone sort occasion. You possibly can watch how only one aspect raises quickly in preparation for an anticipated aspect influence.
The A8 comes normal with adaptive air suspension, however may be upgraded to incorporate predictive lively suspension with the Adaptive chassis package deal to offer drivers with what Audi claims is benchmark experience high quality.
Audi have packed the A8 filled with driving techniques and options that present autonomy or semi-autonomy, relying on native laws. Visitors Jam Pilot has acquired a lot of consideration and delivers degree three autonomy in slow-moving, divided street visitors that permits the driving force to be utterly palms off for speeds as much as 37 mph. Audi is working to convey this degree of autonomy to freeway speeds, however haven’t but dedicated to a timeline. Distant Storage Pilot is one other function that strikes the A8 out and in of tight parking areas utilizing a distant management. The disappointing caveat with these methods is that US laws don’t but permit for Audi to roll them out right here.
Europeans would be the first to expertise these methods. Till then, State-side drivers can nonetheless benefit from the up to date techniques operating adaptive cruise help, lane help and collision pre-sense. These options are fed by a large array of sensors, together with 24 digital camera, radar and laser sensors. So complicated are these inputs, to exhibit the interplay of all these techniques, Audi had us don Microsoft HoloLens to stroll us by means of the intricacies of the A8 in 3D.
Audi have said that a few of these tech options will come pre-installed, and as regulators approve sure applied sciences, together with Audi’s new laser excessive beams, Audi can activate options over the air.
Quattro is normal on all A8 fashions, and when coupled with dynamic all-wheel steering, predicative lively suspensions, and myriad driver help aids, Audi simply supplies a bastion of each passenger peace of thoughts and driver confidence.
A imaginative and prescient realized
Although packed to the gills with know-how, the Audi A8 places the driving force and passengers first. If you’d like the tech, it’s there, even when these techniques are quietly doing the work behind the scenes. The driving dynamic is shocking for the dimensions of auto, and in case you are in want of snug cruiser, the V6 will do it for you. However in the event you’re after a little extra urgency mixed with creature comforts, then the V8 model is just not far off.
After spending a day behind the steering wheel, and within the again being pushed, I can attest that Audi’s imaginative and prescient of a sanctuary for driver and passenger is nicely developed within the 2019 Audi A8. Via its intelligent tech, it offers a rewarding drive, and a robust impression of luxurious with out the necessity to always remind you. Technophobes might discover Audi’s strategy a little off-putting, however could be assured that the tech is straightforward to study and use, and goals to not intrude with a cabin that delivers a place of quiet solitude and rest, or a productiveness hub.
If that is the imaginative and prescient of luxurious that you simply search, then Audi have definitely delivered a powerful super-computer that simply occurs to appear to be a flagship luxurious car via the fourth era Audi A8.