The Audi A8 sits as the defining pinnacle of the luxury brand’s range, while standing tall against the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7-Series. Forming the holy trinity of the full-size luxury sedan segment, the A8 has offered the best of the best since 1994 and continues to do so twenty-four years later. Launched at the exquisite Al Habtoor Polo & Resort in Dubai, the all-new fourth-generation model is bigger and better than the model it succeeds, while offering plenty of tech to cater to its young, affluent clientele.
Adamant to prove that its latest offering provides buyers that added 25th hour of sheer relaxation in the day, the event to commemorate the UAE launch of the all-new Audi A8 began at the break of dawn, with the clock reading a bright 3:30AM. Chauffeured by company executives to a secret location in the middle of the Margham desert, we found ourselves embarking on a hot air balloon ride across the rippling dunes with Balloon Adventures’ Captain Sanjay navigating and providing complimentary entertainment along the way.
What followed was a traditional Bedouin breakfast at a secluded camp site and the start to our highly anticipated time behind the wheel of the all-new A8. A tech fest with the two-tier dashboard integrating seamlessly into the uncluttered center console, the designers have successfully created a lavish lounge that makes the interior of the previous model look distinctly archaic with its overuse of physical buttons. Exuding opulence are perforations in the seat upholstery, Matrix LED reading lights, decorative shutters on the dynamic air vents, and supple leather on virtually every piece of interior trim.
Passengers (or Royalty) in the back, benefit from an abundance of headroom and legroom, with the sense of unmatched luxury being created by removable Android tablets that double up as dual rear entertainment screens, plenty of ambient lighting options, and a customizable tablet that integrates into the central armrest as a Rear Seat Remote. In fact, if had with the optional Relaxation Seat, the Audi A8 offers its occupants the ability to recline the second-row and massage/warm the soles of their feet while being chauffeured to their next business meeting. After all, who needs a spa when you’ve got an A8?
Powering the 2018 A8 is an extensively re-engineered 3.0-liter V6 turbo engine that pushes out 340 horsepower and 500 Nm of torque. For the first time ever, the A8 is equipped with an electrified drivetrain as standard. All models are armed with a belt alternator starter (BAS) and a lithium-ion battery with 10 Ah electrical capacity, allowing the car to coast at speeds between 55 and 160 km/h, travelling with zero emissions for up to 40 seconds. Adding to its list of firsts, is also level three autonomous driving technology, meaning the A8 is not far off from completely removing the driver from the equation by managing the steering, brakes and accelerator on their behalf.
With plenty of grunt from the V6 powerplant, the A8 feels potent and packs enough punch to reach (and exceed) the 100km/h mark without breaking a sweat. Despite being made of an aluminum, CFRP and magnesium composite, the all-new A8 is 100kg heavier than the model it replaces. In the bends and around tight corners, the four-wheel steering shines, making the large sedan feel shorter and significantly more maneuverable than its predecessor. However, those expecting a thrilling ride will be disappointed as the suspension is still tailored to be being supple and comfortable, not stiff and harsh.
On the topic of suspension, all A8 models are fitted with air suspension and adaptive damping, with quick presents for ‘Comfort’ and ‘Dynamic’ modes. Being the flagship model of the brand’s range, however, the A8 is smarter than that and possesses the ability to automatically stiffen or loosen the suspension based on information collected through a camera in the front of the vehicle. In the event of potholes, speedbumps or imperfections in the road, the A8 prepares itself – something that is made possible with an electronic actuator at each corner. This set-up allows the actuator to pick up individual wheels to dampen body movements without the occupants having to face the brunt of an unsmooth surface.
Priced from AED 357,000 for the standard wheelbase and from AED 380,100 for the extended wheelbase, the Audi A8 is the most affordable amongst its German rivals. Offering plenty of tech in a cabin that is swathed in the finest of materials, the A8 is back. Only this, bigger, better, and stronger!