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2019 audi A8

New for the latest model year, the Audi A8 delivers the stretch-out space, high-tech gadgetry and pampering extras one would expect of a full-size luxury sedan, but it drives much smaller than its generous dimensions would suggest. These virtues, along with standard quattro all-wheel-drive and an excellent build quality, make the A8 a highly tempting option for executive sedan shoppers.

Overview

With a "singleframe" grille, LED-accented headlights and gracefully arched side windows, the A8 looks much like a supersized version of Audi's other sedan models. Some might wish for a more distinctive look, while other will find the classy, understated sheet metal to be a good match for the relaxed demeanor of a large luxury limo.

Like the space frame that lies beneath, nearly all of the A8's exterior panels are made of aluminum. It's a weight-saving tradition that started during the 1990s. This means the big Audi is one of the lighter rides in its competitive set, even with its standard quattro all-wheel drive system, which benefits everything from handling to fuel economy.

Audi has long been renowned for its mastery of interior design, and the A8 upholds that reputation with exquisite materials and a stately layout. There's plenty of room for five to sit in perfect comfort, and a plethora of optional luxuries make the cabin experience truly first class: heated, ventilated and massaging front and rear seats, four-zone automatic climate control, a rear seat entertainment system with dual 10-inch screens, and an incredible 19-speaker, 1,200 watt Bang & Olufsen sound system with speakers that rise from the dashboard upon startup in a neat piece of theater.

Navigation and entertainment functions are accessed through Audi's dual-screen MMI Touch Response system, which includes handwriting recognition technology for entering destinations or other info by writing out numbers and letters with a finger. It's one of the more intuitive infotainment setups on the market, although some users find that its location at the base of the center console requires a bit of a reach.

The navigation system includes Audi Connect, which features in-car internet connectivity and industry-first Google Earth integration - complete with panoramic views and high-resolution 3D satellite and aerial imagery.

Technical specifications

At launch, the A8 is only offered with a single engine. It's a 3.0-liter V6 that makes 335 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. It sends its power to the four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission.

There is a 48-volt mild hybrid system to keep fuel economy in check. It consists of a small battery pack stuffed under the trunk floor and a belt starter alternator. It can't drive the A8 on its own, but it helps make the stop-start system smoother.

Audi engineers developed an active suspension system that can quickly raise and lower each wheel via electronic actuators. Like early electromagnetic prototypes, Audi's electromechanical approach can lift or drop each individual wheel to float over potholes. At the other end of the spectrum, it can be set to a sportier mode for improved road feel..

Standard and optional equipment

Audi offers the A8 in a single trim level. The list of standard features includes 18-way power-adjustable front seats, a power-adjustable steering column, leather upholstery, Audi's MMI Touch Response infotainment system, a full air suspension, a digital instrument cluster, 19-inch alloy wheels, and brown walnut inlays. Also note that, in America, Audi only offers the A8 with a long wheelbase.

Buyers who want more content can pay extra for niceties like a relaxation right rear seat with a heated and massaging footrest, 22-way adjustable front seats with a massage function and ventilation, a heated steering wheel, all-wheel steering, night vision, and an array of option packages that add more tech, more comfort features, or more or everything.

Occupant safety

All A8 models come standard with dual front, front knee, front side, rear side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems.

Available electronic safety features include active lane assist, which warns the driver when the A8 is wandering into an adjacent lane and can even gently steer the car back into the original lane. There's also Audi pre sense, which can detect obstacles in front of the A8 and apply the brakes to prevent a crash or mitigate its severity. Finally, Audi side assist alerts the driver when a vehicle is in one of the A8 rear blind spots.

Key competitors

There's something for everyone in the full-size luxury sedan class that the A8 plays in. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7 Series are segment stalwarts that have been improved and refined over several decades, the Jaguar XJ presents a cutting-edge look inside and out to go with a well sorted chassis, and the Lexus LS appeals to those form whom value and luxury (not handling) are of primary concern. Finally, low-end models can also be cross-shopped against the Cadillac CT6.