Audi A8 drivers frequently cite the sporty yet elegant design as one of their main reasons for buying the sedan. They appreciate the harmonious blend of clarity and dynamics, lightness and elegance. After all, the top model of the four-ring brand embodies the philosophy of Audi design in a particularly compelling way.
Even at first glance, its strikingly powerful proportions clearly identify the A8 as an Audi. The flat front section, the imposing wheels and the short overhangs visualize the notion of dynamics upon which the entire vehicle is based. The side view, too, reveals its athletic presence: the gentle curve of the roof line is reminiscent of a coupÃ© and shifts the visual focal point to the rear. Expansive, arching surfaces are framed by precise lines. Every line, each small element, has a purpose here: no detail appears to be purely decorative. The single-frame radiator grille lends the face of the Audi A8 a look of determination and supremacy.
It is this attention to detail that helped the Audi A8 receive the best score (tie) of any car sold in the U.S. in the 2007 J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey (IQS). The study looks at reliability as well as design, ergonomics, and overall driving experience during the first 90 days of ownership.
The Audi A8 masters the art of timeless elegance from every angle. Hence the design has been accentuated in carefully selected areas only: the single-frame grille sports a high-gloss black finish, with eight-cylinder versions recognized by horizontal chrome applications, while the top W12 has a high gloss black finish with double vertical chrome struts.
Perfect synthesis of design and function
The new exterior mirrors on the Audi A8 illustrate the combination of elegance and functionality that is typical of Audi. The LED side turn signals are harmoniously incorporated; the warning lights for the optional blind-spot detection system - Audi side assist - are located on the inside of the mirror housing. The new chrome applications on the door handles add an extra touch.
The 2008 Audi A8 will offer a new wheel program. The 18-inch wheel with a 10- spoke design or the 19-inch wheel with a 5-spoke design are, in themselves, small works of art.
The comprehensive color range has been extended by new tones Savana Beige, Cherry Black and Ice Silver. Thanks to the additional range from the Audi exclusive program from quattro GmbH and its extensive customization options, the Audi A8 can be precisely adapted to reflect personal preferences and tastes.
New design for LED taillights
The rear view is distinguished by lights employing LED technology. These have been given a new look for the 2008 model year, by accentuating modern light technology with extremely fast-reacting LEDs even further. Each diode has its own reflector, visible through the clear cover. A total of 58 LEDs for rear light, brake light and turn signal lights are clustered in each of the two taillight units.
The rear light LEDs encircle the area of the brake light LEDs, creating a distinctive night design.
Interior demonstrates high quality standards
The interior is the perfect embodiment of the sophistication that is typical of Audi and the exceptional high quality standards of the brand. The instruments and controls have been designed with great attention to detail and with a level of craftsmanship that is evident at every glance and with every touch.
The generous roominess, the comfortable seats and the spacious compartment form the basis for a feeling of comfort that helps and promotes the driver's concentration and that of his/her companions, even on long journeys.
The cockpit is distinguished by the circular instruments with luminous white needles on grey dials set in aluminum-appearance tubes, by the rising center console - reminiscent of a sports car - and by the retractable seven-inch screen of the MMI operating system.
Additional highlights in the interior are provided by aluminum applications on the multifunction steering wheel, glove box and door pockets. On eight-cylinder models, the lower inlay now is finished in brushed aluminum titanium grey. Each Audi A8 is characterized by the high quality of each and every surface and its perfect craftsmanship.
Comprehensive range of design options
Also in the interior, additional colors enhance the comprehensive range of design options. In addition to Black, Light Gray, and Amaretto, the Valcona leather seats now are available in Cardamom beige, Linen beige or Espresso brown. Various leather packages underline the quality of this exquisite natural material, through to the full leather trim for cockpit, doors and rear. A new wood decorative inlay option for the Audi A8 is Beige Birch wood, while the Audi S8 now has Gray Vavona wood available. With this wide range of options, an Audi A8 to suit every taste and every lifestyle is attainable - especially since the Audi exclusive program also enables drivers to create their own unique, fully customized vehicles.
The front seats provide optimum body support for the driver and front passenger and also feature multi-way electric adjustment. Climate-controlled comfort seats with integrated ventilation and massage function for the back muscles are available.
Body - Light and unshakable
As the top model, the Audi A8 utilizes the entire expertise that Audi has acquired in the body manufacturing sector. Since the debut of the previous generation Audi A8 in 1994, the brand with the four-ring badge has made consistent progress in the field of aluminum construction.
It all started with a revolutionary new approach - the Audi Space FrameÂ® (ASF). This is a high-strength aluminum frame structure into which large aluminum panels are integrated, thus assuming a supporting function. The space frame consists of a combination of aluminum extruded sections and castings that are positively connected to each other. Its central elements are the roof frame, side sills, seat cross members, roof posts and floor panels.
Innovative casting techniques and alloys are employed for the Audi A8 model series. Large multifunctional castings, long continuous profiles and a high proportion of straight extruded sections reduce the number of components: a mere 29 castings account for 34 percent of the structural weight. This significantly enhances comfort because fewer connections between components increase body rigidity.
Fewer components also produce a positive effect on production processes and, consequently, on quality. The side panel, for example, consists of a single section that extends from the A-post to the rear end of the body.
Outstanding rigidity for dynamics and comfort
Apart from rivets, the connections are executed using various welding techniques, e.g., MIG and laser welding and the laser-hybrid welding process. Laser welding allows large-area panels to be connected to the body structure particularly efficiently because the resulting linear joins achieve superior strength and rigidity compared to spot welds.
One of the two great strengths of the ASF is its outstanding rigidity. Its static torsional rigidity, a decisive factor for handling potential, is just as excellent as the so-called torsional eigen frequency which largely determines vibrational comfort. The ASF meets all current passive safety standards as well as plenty that have not yet come into force.
Low weight for low fuel consumption
Despite all these excellent qualities, the body structure weight of the Audi A8 is only about half as much as that of a conventional sheet-steel body. It amounts to around 470 pounds, a figure that is customary for the mid-size class. This weightsaving has two advantages: it improves handling characteristics and reduces fuel consumption.
The high-strength structure of the Audi A8 exhibits excellent safety characteristics. In a side collision, for example, the high-strength A-post braces itself against the other vehicle. This large casting is clear evidence of Audi's superior expertise in the field of aluminum technology. In the interior, finely-tuned restraint systems work in conjunction with each other.
These systems include belt tensioners with belt force limiters and two-stage fullsize airbags for driver and front passenger, as well as side airbags integrated in the front and rear backrests and the sideguard large-area head airbag system for front and rear passengers.
Audi backguard active head restraints reduce the risk of whiplash. In the event of a rear-end collision the special shape of the seat restrains the upper body, and the spring-loaded head restraints swing forward to support the head at an early stage. Belt tensioners, airbags and active head restraints are triggered by two impact sensors on the front, side and rear of the vehicle.
The lowest noise level in its class
Aerodynamics is a technical area in which Audi has played a leading role for many years. The drag coefficient of the Audi A8 is only 0.27, for instance. Solutions such as underbody paneling facilitate high downforce on the axles for further enhanced directional stability. Intensive fine-tuning reduces turbulence, which also benefits aeroacoustics. Even at high speeds, the Audi A8 is exceptionally quiet.
This is precisely where the fine-tuning of the new-generation Audi A8 delivers distinct improvements. The entire acoustics, for instance, have been revised and optimized with innovative materials. Noise insulation at Audi is always tackled from the point of view of intelligent light-weight construction. The result is that without adding weight the Audi A8 exhibits the lowest rolling, road, and ambient noise in its class. This is an important element for relaxed comfort in the sedan on long journeys.
The acoustics package also includes the underfloor panel for the body and engine encapsulation, which now has a three-layer structure. This new tri-laminate consists of a cover fleece incorporating strategically-placed absorption fleeces, a polypropylene film and a surface film. In addition, the wheel arches are fitted with a new lining. Here, too, new fiber fleece materials and textile surfaces ensure efficient sound insulation.
Optimized "acoustic" glass for the windscreen and side windows likewise offers improved insulation. A special 0.8-millimeter-thick film made of polyvinyl butyral lies between two layers of safety glass, each of which is 2.1 millimeters thick.
Engines - Power, refinement and efficiency
Supreme power for superior road performance, spontaneous handling characteristics with exemplary efficiency: the engine range also lives up to the standards of the sportiest sedan in the luxury class. The 4.2 FSI V8 powerplant is standard on the Audi A8 and Audi A8 L. The high-end models are equipped with two topclass powerpacks: the 450 hp Audi A8L W12 quattro features the twelve-cylinder as the epitome of luxury driving, and the 450 hp Audi S8 has a fascinating, high-revving V10.
FSI for optimum utilization of energy
FSI technology also is featured on two engines in the Audi A8: the powerful 4.2 FSI V8 and the 5.2 FSI V10 in the S8. They use gasoline direct injection for optimum combustion and remarkably impressive pulling power from all engine speeds along with maximum utilization of the energy in the fuel.
In terms of design, they belong to the current family of V engines with a 90- degree angle, which - with a cylinder spacing of 90 millimeters - is remarkable for its compact dimensions and low weight.
V8 with superior performance
Even at the dawn of the automotive industry, eight-cylinder engines were highlights in the Audi range. The Audi Type R of 1928, for example, housed a 4.9-liter eight-cylinder inline engine under its long bonnet. The inline layout has not been maintained for some time, of course. Today, the modern V engines from Audi, even those with eight cylinders, are extremely compact and feature cuttingedge technology: the cylinder housing is cast from an aluminum-silicon alloy, and the pistons and rings glide in the liners on hard silicon crystals. The V8 draws its intake air through a two-stage variable intake manifold made of magnesium.
Delivering 350 hp at 6,800 rpm, the 4.2 FSI has impressive performance potential; its maximum torque of 325 ft. lbs. guarantees superlative pulling power, especially since 85 per cent of it is available from as low as 2,000 rpm. For the sprint to 60 mph, the Audi A8 4.2 FSI requires a mere 5.9 seconds.
quattroÂ® drive offers reserves for every situation
The quattro permanent four-wheel drive on the Audi A8 provides the assurance that this enormous power will be transmitted to the road without any losses. Particularly with respect to the torque delivered by the Audi A8 and S8 engines, the drive system provides the necessary reserves of traction and safety across all four wheels, in all driving situations and on all road surface conditions. It ensures excellent grip and directional stability and guarantees maximum driving enjoyment with a high level of active safety. The center differential automatically undertakes dynamic torque distribution, adapting it to the prevailing situation within milliseconds. If a high level of wheel spin is detected, the quattro drive is assisted by the electronic differential lock (EDL). If necessary, propulsive power can be concentrated on one wheel.
Superior driving comfort and almost imperceptible gear shifts are provided on quattro models by the six-speed TiptronicÂ® with the dynamic shift program. In addition, the gears also can be changed manually via the gearshift lever or by means of optionally available paddles behind the steering wheel.
Chassis - Driving enjoyment in the luxury class
The character of the Audi A8 is a result of the synthesis of dynamic, light-footed driveability and exceptional ride and acoustic comfort. With its agility and steering precision, the Audi A8 has set new standards, and in terms of handling it has the qualities of a sports car. Even long journeys provide enjoyment and relaxation at the same time.
To emphasize this unique character of the Audi A8 even further, both strengths of the sedan have been enhanced. The rack-and-pinion steering with variable ratios and servotronic speed-dependent power assistance has been optimized and is more direct, similar to the S8. Shock absorbers, bearings and air suspension settings have been updated. As a result, the new Audi A8 responds more spontaneously to steering inputs, tackles winding country roads with precision and - as if on its own - maintains calm and supreme straight-line stability at high speeds.
Air suspension with an even more sensitive response
Similar to the handling characteristics, ride comfort has also been improved. The standard adaptive air suspension is more responsive now to minor irregularities in the road surface. The continuously variable shock absorbers feature new seals to reduce friction, new valves optimize the characteristics, and the entire hydraulics system has been retuned. The Audi A8 even moves smoothly over transverse joints, with no vibration whatsoever. Together with the package designed to insulate the vehicle from rolling and road noise, the luxury sedan from Audi offers outstanding comfort.
The foundation for these excellent driving characteristics is provided by the Audi A8's aluminum running gear, with four-link front suspension and self-tracking trapezoidal link rear suspension. The standard adaptive air suspension - featuring active continuously variable shock absorbers - resolves the classic conflict between sporty handling and luxurious ride comfort. It offers four levels of ground clearance. On the highway it lowers the body, thus improving stability and aerodynamic drag.
Suspension characteristics according to personal preferences
Furthermore, adaptive air suspension allows the driver to adjust the characteristics according to his/her own personal taste in the "Car" menu of the MMI operating system. The following modes can be selected: automatic - with the emphasis on a balanced setup; dynamic - a particularly agile setting; comfort - with the focus on gentle cruising; and finally lift, for driving on very uneven terrain. In addition to the standard program, adaptive air suspension sport is optional. It works with the same control modes as the standard suspension but has firmer characteristics overall.
The vast range of optional wheel designs and wheel sizes up to 20 inches has been further extended for the 2008 model year. In each case, high-performance disc brakes are located behind the wheels, held in place by aluminum floating callipers. A tire pressure monitoring system is standard, as is the electromechanical parking brake with starting assist and emergency braking function.