In some ways, luxury saloons like the Audi A8 can't be judged by the same standards as other models.
They must be equally good to drive as they are to be driven in, have sumptuous interiors festooned with the latest technologies and be capable of crossing entire countries in serene quiet. And it's safe to say that, having been on sale since 2010, the old A8 was beginning to look like a grandfather clock next to the more modern Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7 Series. Time for an upgrade, then.
What's new on the Audi A8?
This fourth-generation A8 is marginally longer and taller than the car it replaces, with more space between its front and rear axles. That equates to more space inside for both people and luggage – an area where the old car fell short of its rivals. With 505 litres of boot space on offer, though, the new A8 still lags behind both the S-Class and the 7 Series. That said, there should be enough room for holiday suitcases or a couple of sets of golf clubs.
As before, the A8 can also be specified with an extended wheelbase of 13cm, wherein it's badged as the A8L. Passengers in the A8L get more head and leg room, as well as the option of a special reclining seat with a warming foot massager.
What engines can I get in the Audi A8?
At first, buyers will be able to choose between two engines in the A8: a 282bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel and a 335bhp 3.0-litre V6 petrol. The 3.0-litre diesel was our preferred engine choice in the old A8, thanks to its smooth nature, so it's likely to remain the best choice.
Two additional engines, a 4.0-litre petrol and diesel, will be added soon after launch. A range-topping 585bhp 6.0-litre W12 petrol engine is also on the cards. Every engine comes with an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard.
All of the A8's engines come as mild hybrids, which means they have a small electric motor that helps to provide extra power when pulling away from junctions or traffic lights. This system also assists the engine during its stop/start cycle.
In the near future, Audi will also add an electrified e-tron version of the A8L to its line-up. The e-tron will use the 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine in combination with an electric motor and will be capable of travelling up to 31 miles on electric power alone.
The new A8 comes with Audi's quattro four-wheel drive as standard. Drivers can also specify either air suspension or a new active suspension, which allows the car to effectively lean into corners. New all-wheel steering is also offered as an option; this should give this A8 more dynamic handling than its predecessor.
What equipment does the Audi A8 come with?
Inside, the new A8 borrows many features from Audi’s Prologue concept car of 2014, which showed what the next-generation of its luxury flagship might look like.
As well as the Virtual Cockpit digital instrument display that we’ve become accustomed to in modern Audis, the new A8 also two more screens – a 10.1in screen for controlling infotainment functions, and a curved 8.6in screen for climate controls. Audi has overhauled its MMI infotainment and navigation software with a fresh new look, and the system now incorporates tactile feedback, meaning that small vibrations in the screen will make it feel as if you're pressing a physical button.
An optional head-up display can project crucial information, such as the car’s speed or sat-nav directions, directly onto the windscreen.
How much will the Audi A8 cost?
The new A8 will reach showrooms in October, and while official prices have yet to be confirmed, the new model is expected to cost from just under £70,000. At that price, it’ll be significantly more expensive than the 7 Series, which is priced from £61,300, but just cheaper than the S-Class, which costs from £70,470.
As with the current car, the A8L is likely to command a price premium of around £4000. Big discounts were only available recently on the old A8 as it reached the end of its life, so we wouldn’t expect to be able to haggle significantly for a while.
Anything else I need to know about the Audi A8?
The new A8 is one of the first cars to come with a semi-autonomous driving system, called Audi AI. With Audi's new optional Traffic Jam Pilot system, the car can accelerate, brake and steer itself at speeds of up to 37mph on motorways, and drivers can take their hands off the steering if it’s legal to do so. Audi says it’s still working out a framework to make the system is road-legal in this country.
The A8 also offers a self-parking function, which drivers can operate using an app on their smartphones.
Although not yet confirmed by Audi, a coupé version of the A8, likely destined to be called the A9, has been unearthed in a series of design patents online. If it does make production, this new model would face off against the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupé and the upcoming BMW 8 Series. The A9 would have an entry-level price of more than £100,000.
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