Following its launch in Miami last December, Audi has today announced pricing for the 2011 Audi A8, destined to battle the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class for market share in the large luxury segment.
Declaring it the sportiest offering in its segment, Audi has confirmed that the Australian-delivered 2011 A8 will arrive in local showrooms from September, priced from $225,904.
Like its predecessor, the 2011 Audi A8 is built around an aluminium spaceframe chassis and wears lightweight alloy body panels.
The use of aluminium sees the A8's chassis weigh 40 percent less than a steel body, but does not compromise rigidity. Audi says torsional strength has been improved by 25 percent.
The A8 has grown substantially, and is larger in nearly every dimension compared to the current model.
Bodywork is recognisably Audi, but smoother lines and cleaner details give the big sedan a coefficient of drag of just 0.26.
The all-LED headlights are perhaps the most striking aspect of the new A8's design, and are available as an alternative to a set of more conventional Xenon lamps.
Ten high-powered LEDs are used for low-beam illumination in each headlamp, while two LEDs comprise the high-beam units. Audi's signature strip of LED daytime running lights divide each headlamp cluster.
As Audi's flagship, the new A8 comes packed with cutting-edge technology.
Adaptive cruise control is featured, and can take the A8 through start-stop traffic without the driver having to touch either the brake or accelerator.
A camera mounted in the windscreen can even detect when a slower vehicle in front of the car has put on an indicator to exit the freeway or change lane, and alters the cruise control speed to suit.
Like the new E-Class sedan, the A8 also features a lane departure warning and blind spot monitoring system. The blind spot system can detect when another vehicle is cruising next to the car and issues a warning to the driver, while the lane assist system can determine when the driver inadvertently strays from their marked lane.
An infrared night-vision system features on the new A8, and is capable of distinguishing humans and animals. If a person happens to walk in the path of the car, the night vision system also outlines their image in a red border and warns the driver to take evasive action.
Other safety equipment includes Audi's new crash-predicting Pre Sense system, which analyses data from the stability control system to determine whether the car is out of control and in danger of a collision. In such situations, the system closes all windows, activates the hazard lights and tensions the seatbelts.
Higher-spec A8 models receive more sophisticated versions of the Pre Sense system, with some cars able to autonomously brake themselves to reduce the severity of an impact while others can detect impending rear-end collisions.
Audi's MMI driver interface system has come in for a major overhaul in the new A8, and features a touchpad interface instead of the current selector wheel.
The hard-disk based navigation system is now more tightly integrated into the car, and is even capable of preventing the gerabox from automatically upshifting when driving hard along winding country roads and activating the corning lights when the car approaches a sharp turn - even if the driver doesn't flick the indicator on.
A 10-speaker sound system with digital radio and digital TV tuner is standard, while a 14-speaker Bose stereo is offered on mid-spec models. A top-of-the-line 19-speaker Bang and Olufsen premium stereo is available, and features an output of over 1400 watts.
A GPRS data system will be available, and can download weather info, news reports, and navigation waypoints to the car's display screen. A UMTS data system is planned to be added to the A8's option list after launch, and has the capacity to make the A8 a rolling wi-fi hotspot.
In Australia, the 2011 Audi A8 will be offered with two engines - a naturally-aspirated direct-injected petrol V8 FSI engine and a 3.0 litre turbodiesel V6 TDI engine. While the V8 will be available from launch, the diesel will not go on sale until later in the year.
The petrol-powered 4.2 FSI develops 273kW and 445Nm, while the V6 turbo-diesel produces 184kW and 550Nm of torque.
Performance for either engine is brisk. The 4.2 FSI will accelerate the big A8 to 100km/h in 5.7 seconds, while the 3.0 TDI can sprint to triple digits in just 6.6 seconds.
Although power and performance is greatly improved in the new A8, fuel consumption hasn't suffered. The 4.2 FSI requires 9.5 litres of petrol per 100km and the 3.0 TDI uses only 6.6 l/100km. A fuel-saving start-stop system is offered as standard with the A8 3.0 TDI engine.
All models will take power to the wheels via an all-new eight-speed automatic transmission, offering a greater spread of ratios for improvements in performance, driveability and fuel economy.
Audi's famous quattro all-wheel-drive system is also standard for both models. In the case of the V8 model, the quattro system is matched with Audi drive select and a sport differential.
The new A8's wheel control arms are made entirely of aluminium, and an adaptive air suspension system with controlled damping is also standard. Dynamic steering is available as an option.
“The new Audi A8 is the sportiest sedan in the segment,” Audi Australia’s Managing Director, Uwe Hagen said.
“It combines numerous assistance functions in a new and intelligent way and the technology it showcases is a clear indicator of what is to come in future Audi models,”
“The all new Audi A8 is the most-important model we will launch in 2010 in terms of driving our prestige image upwards thanks to its aspirational value, unparalleled quality and excellent level of specification,” Mr Hagen said.
The 2010 Audi A8 will go on sale in Australia in September, launching with the 4.2 litre FSI petrol V8 engine and priced at $225,904.
The diesel model, for which pricing has yet to be revealed, will go on sale later in the year.