An all-aluminium construction and an array of advanced technology enables the new Audi flagship to take an even more responsible approach to deluxe motoring.
Crafted entirely from lightweight aluminium like its forebears, the Audi A8 bristles with new technology that not only contributes to Audi's claim of best-in-class economy and exemplary comfort, but also to even greater dynamic accomplishment.
Packed inside the even lighter but more rigid aluminium Audi space frame are myriad new technological advances. These of course include fundamentals such as economy and emissions advantages for the three significantly reworked FSI and TDI engines that will be available from launch this spring - the 3.0-litre V6 TDI with 250bhp and 550Nm of torque (up from 233bhp and 450Nm ), the 4.2-litre V8 TDI with 350bhp and 800Nm (up from 326bhp and 650Nm ), and the 4.2-litre V8 FSI with 372bhp and 445Nm (up from 350bhp and 440Nm ).
The upgraded 4.2-litre FSI benefits from a 13 per cent improvement in fuel economy, taking its combined figure to 29.7mpg and dropping CO2 output to 219g/km. The equivalent V8 TDI gets a 19 per cent boost to 37.2mpg with CO2 emissions down to 199g/km, while the 3.0-litre TDI moves to the top of the luxury saloon class in economy terms with a 22 per cent economy hike to 42.8mpg with CO2 of 174g/km.
During 2010, an even more economy and emissions-focused version of the 3.0-litre TDI unit will be added. Driving the front wheels only, it will combine a 204bhp power peak with 47.1mpg economy on the combined cycle and CO2 emissions of just 159g/km.
All engines are complemented by recuperation technology which provides further fuel and C02 savings by recycling a proportion of the wasted kinetic energy which is generated under normal braking and normally dissipated as heat, and storing this temporarily in the vehicle battery to reduce the engine load when the car subsequently accelerates again.
The A8 3.0 TDI also saves fuel through its engine start-stop function, cutting engine power at idle when the brake pedal is depressed, and then restarting in just two-tenths of a second when it is released.
The much improved efficiency of these enhanced engines is matched by the new eight-speed tiptronic automatic transmission with which all of them work. With an especially high overall gear ratio of 7.0:1, it reduces overall fuel consumption by around six per cent, but is equally notable for its quick and virtually seamless changes.
This advanced transmission can also ‘talk’ to the new, next generation MMI Touch in-car infotainment system, networking with the detailed route data supplied by its inbuilt navigation system to factor corners into its gearshift strategy and avoid unnecessary, fuel-sapping gear changes. The state-of-the-art adaptive cruise control and adaptive light swivelling cornering light systems are also influenced by feedback from the navigation unit.
More high technology to catch the eye has also filtered even deeper into the chassis of the A8, which already offered sophisticated aluminium suspension refined by adaptive four-mode air springs. This system has been further improved in the interest of ride comfort by newly developed struts with enlarged air capacity, and is now backed up by the Audi drive select adaptive dynamics system. Audi drive select enables the driver to fine-tune throttle response, steering assistance and transmission shift points to suit personal preferences or prevailing road conditions.
Prices and specifications for the new Audi A8 on the Irish market should be available near the end of this month.