January 5, 2003

World Debut: Audi A8L 4.2 quattro
Text and pictures courtesy of Audi AG

Design

Even a first glance at the flowing outlines of the new Audi A8 clearly reveals the personality of this 5.18-meter long, 1.89-meter wide and 1.44-meter high sedan: a harmonious combination of clarity and sporting character, grace and elegance.

A low front with an unusually short overhang, a high, powerful tail and the distinct wedge-shaped body of the new A8L are features of its dynamic styling. For the long Audi A8, as for the standard version, the crouched silhouette and the shoulder line clearly rising to the rear underline the sporting effect. The prestigious size of this large luxury sedan only becomes evident on a closer look.

The well-proportioned but powerful styling of the Audi A8 radiates elegance in the long version too, the body of which now has an overall length of 5,181 mm. With its clear, drawn-out lines, it communicates the impression of dynamism and agility that is typical of the Audi A8.

The wheelbase of the Audi A8 long version has been extended by 130 millimeters and is now 3074 mm. The increase in the car's overall length has been neatly incorporated between the B and D posts. The rear doors, which have also grown in length by 130 mm, blend into the dynamic side contour harmoniously and permit passengers to enter and leave the car with particular ease.

Even more convenience awaits the passenger inside the A8, at all seats and in all dimensions: Headroom in the rear- compared with the previous model - has been increased by five millimeters; there are seven millimeters more width at shoulder height and the elbow room has grown by 10 mm.

The Aluminum Body

The innovative aluminum body uses a further developed form of the Audi Space Frame (ASF) and is the basis for the new Audi A8's ride comfort, excellent road behavior and handling characteristics.

Compared to the previous A8 generation, the number of body elements has been significantly reduced by using more functional large castings and extruded sections. The new A8 has a completely closed space frame. The most important result: static torsional rigidity, a decisive yardstick for dynamic driving and freedom from vibration, has gone up by more than 60 percent compared with the previous model.

As for the A8 with standard wheelbase, the front and rear ends of the long version too are linked through the roof frame, body sills, B-cross member, B posts and floor panels to form a closed space frame.

The B post is a large multifunctional casting which, in addition to carrying the door hinges and lock strikers, is a central element in satisfying the side impact crash requirements. Last but not least, the B post is essential to ensure the A8 body's excellent freedom from vibration.

The new A8L 4.2 quattro's single-piece side sections run from the A post to the rear end of the body. Like the roof, the side section too -the largest aluminum sheet element used in car manufacturing worldwide - is laser-welded to the load-bearing structure.

Compared with the standard version's 218-kilogramm body structure, the A8L weighs only 8 kg more. The fact that the A8 maintains its high level of rigidity in the long-wheelbase version can also be ascribed to the use of extruded sections in the door sills and roof frame. The Audi A8L's freedom from vibration and handling characteristics set new standards in the luxury sedan segment. The relationship between high rigidity and low weight represents an absolute world record among all long-wheelbase sedan competitors.

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