Alcantara Inserts and Headliner
This one is so “I’ve-got-bling-in-a-refined-way” that I hardly know what to say. Audi color-matches its plush Alcantara with the interior leather and then spreads it around in perfect proportions on the doors and, more importantly, on the headliner. No cheesy felt headliner here, but rather a lavish, posh, lush, swanky, swishy, stunning, super-deluxe Alcantara lid. ‘Nuff said.
Audi’s MMI (Multi Media Interface)
There was a time when the superlative MMI system was only available in the A8 range; it has since moved “down-market” to the A6 model (and Q7) as well. Nevertheless MMI still exists as the bar against which all other manufacturer’s systems must be measured. The brains and guts of the A8 L – from the stereo to the lighting and locking systems – can be accessed through the intuitive and easy-to-operate dial and buttons.
The reason everything is accessible via MMI is that the main bus systems connecting all electronic components on board are also interconnected to the MMI system via an independent gateway control unit. In other words the network connecting the entire driveline (including engine, transmission and brake control units) is connected to the MMI gateway just as is the high speed infotainment network, the comfort and convenience components and all other systems.
Reassuringly, Audi has designed the MMI system in order to incorporate and accommodate future functionality. One engineer I spoke to referred to it as a platform that would be with us “many years into the future”. Until full and complete voice recognition (and anticipation) is perfected this is as good as it gets.
Self-Retracting Video Screen
A close partner in crime with the MMI system, the video monitor is as clever as it is useful. It goes without saying that any video system must be high quality and this system certainly qualifies. What gives it that extra edge, however, is how the screen neatly stows itself into the dashboard. This protects the screen when not in use, but more importantly allows the owner to appreciate the beautiful dashboard unhindered by the screen.
Audi put all of its vast engineering and design experience into play with the retracting screen. It differentiates against competitors which still utilize blotted dashboards dominated by not-always-in-use video displays.
Recalling the benefits of the intelligent security system, the starter button concept flows along much the same lines. Supposing that the driver has chosen to leave the A8 L’s keys safely packed in his or her pocket and unlocked the car via the door handle, it would be nothing short of laborious to have to pull out the key and insert it into the steering column in order to start the car. This problem is efficiently resolved with a strategically placed starter button.
It is so refreshing and liberating not to fiddle with keys in and around the A8 L. I can attest that this was one of my very favorite functional goodies since I merely had to keep the keys in my pocket all day long. I never thought twice about getting in and out of the car or starting or killing the engine, except that is until I got back into my own behind-the-times automobile.
Last, but not least, is the A8’s adaptive air suspension. Traditional big car suspensions are a distant memory with the A8 where an electronic system controls the air suspension deployed at all four wheels and continuously adjusts dampening based on user-selections and road conditions.
One of the built in benefits is aerodynamic efficiency – the car knows to gradually “hunker down” as it gains speed in order to lower the center of gravity and improve aerodynamics. The car is of course also much more stable when the ride height it lowered at speed.
In a true display of active technology, the adaptive suspension monitors input from the axles and acceleration sensors on the vehicle’s body in order to make many small adjustments in dampening (each taking just milliseconds). The end state is unparalleled ride comfort, improved vehicle response during cornering, braking and hard acceleration and complete driver adjustability. Once again, in contrast to many cars in its class, the A8 L suffers very little body roll, nose dive and pitching during spirited driving.
Have I made my case? The A8 L brings so much to bear to the world of large luxury sedans that it becomes impossible to dismiss when searching for a combination of features and price. Ultimately pricing in this segment is probably not the deciding factor anyway, meaning that potential owners would be looking at the types of features discussed here with great interest.
Did I mention that I want an A8 L?