Audi A8 Premiere at Design Miami

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December 02, 2009

By: Evan Newton

The new Audi A8
Audi premiered its all new 2011 D4 platform A8 to much fanfare, and an audience of several thousand enthusiasts of art and design at the annual Design Miami arts and design show in Miami Beach, Florida. Audi has been a sponsor of this event since 2006.

The new 2011 D4 platform Audi A8 features breakthrough design and technology for the Audi brand, as well as for all vehicles in general.. Audi models have always been on the forefront of design, therefore it is fitting that the 3rd Generation A8, launching many new Audi design themes, was unveiled at such an event. The second generation A8 launched in 2004 and ushered in a wave of new design and technology that slowly filtered through the rest of the Audi range, most prominently the large grille currently found on all Audi models. Chairman of the Board of Audi AG Rupert Stadler, who unveiled the large sedan, made it clear that this trend of filtering down breakthrough features to lesser models in the Audi range would continue.

The first thing one notices about the A8 is… well, its look! It features a very pronounced body line running the full length of the car and integrating very smoothly with Audi’s current family standard tail ensemble – the signature recessed lower tail gate and pronounced tail lights. The tail lights introduce new LED indicators combined within the brake light, which look simply stunning. The front headlights also feature Audi’s signature LED running lights, in an edgy asymmetrical pattern that resembles a graph of the current stock market. The design of both lights are brilliant in appearance as well as the light they emit.

Most owners will not spend their lives looking at the car (though other road users will), the new A8 is wrapped in completely new sheet metal. The biggest updates are in the power-train, interior, and electronics. Many will applaud Audi continuing its partnership with Bang and Olufsen, offering an updated version of the audio system that is currently optional in the A8. The biggest change on the inside however is Audi’s improved MMI (Multi-Media-Interface) system, which now includes a “black pad” that provides you the ability to “write” with your finger. It will recognize the characters and make appropriate menu selections. Trialing the system, it was found to be both incredibly intuitive and very useful, enabling drivers the capacity to “write” in destinations on their satellite navigation for example without having to remove their eyes from the road, as one has to do currently to scroll through menus and make selections. The other big plus is improving on Audi’s current best in class navigation, progressing from its 3 dimensional renderings of large city buildings to now incorporating Google Earth and its realistic photo like image of the road and destinations. We would expect that other manufacturers will follow suit on what appears to be such a clean and well thought out concept.

Audi informed us that a big emphasis of the design was focused on reducing weight. The A8 D4 continues to pioneer the all aluminum space frame and, despite its four wheel drive system, Audi lists it’s weight to be about 110kg (~240lbs) lighter on average than its heaviest rival. No doubt this assists with the much improved fuel mileage (see below).

The engines for the A8 at launch will be enhanced versions of the current Audi lineup. Both V6 and V8 gas and diesel engines will be made available with the same displacement as can be found on current Audi vehicles, 3.0 TDi V6, 4.2 TDi V8, 3.2 gas V6, and 4.2 gas V8. There was no confirmation of the excellent diesel engines for the North American market however, and we anticipate the V6 gas engine model will not make it to the US either. All engines are reported to have improvements in power and fuel mileage,, though specific numbers were not available. Claims of 6l per 100km (38mpg!) highway for the most economical engine, the V6 diesel and under 10l per 100km (24mpg) highway for the least economical, the 4.2 gas V8 were shared. The A8 will feature Audi’s new 8 speed automatic transmission, which is attributed to the substantial increase in gas mileage. We wonder, based on reviews of other auto manufacturer’s models equipped with transmissions containing more than 6 gears having a tendency to “hunt” for gears frequently, will this new 8 speed transmission suffer the same fate? Hopefully the engineers responsible for calibrating the transmission will have perfected the art.


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