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New Audi A8 sedan makes world debut

Published 12 July 2017

Audi has unveiled the new A8 sedan, which is the first production automobile to have been developed specially for highly automated driving.

The new Audi A8, which made its world debut at the Audi Summit in Barcelona, has a new design language, a touchscreen operating concept and a systematically electrified drive.

Audi A8 is powered by V6 turbo engines, a 3.0 TDI and 3.0 TFSI. The diesel variant produces 210 kW or 286 hp of power, and the gasoline version produces 250 kW or 340 hp.

Audi plans to release two more V8 variants with 4.0 TDI producing 320 kW or 435 hp and a 4.0 TFSI producing 338 kW or 460 hp of power. These will be followed by an exclusive top engine version of V12 with a displacement of 6.0 litres and these vehicles are not for sale yet.

All these engine variants work in conjunction with a belt alternator starter (BAS), which runs a 48V electrical system. This mild hybrid technology lets the vehicle move even when the engine is switched off and can restart smoothly.

The system has extended start/stop function, which can recover energy, up to 12kW. Such efforts, as claimed by the automaker, can help save about 0.7 litres per 100km in real driving conditions.

Audi also plans to launch a plug-in hybrid, the A8 L e-tron Quattro at a much later date. This will be powered using a 3.0 TFSI gasoline engine, coupled with a powerful electric motor that can produce 330 kW or 449 hp of power and 700 Nm or 516.3 lb/ft of torque.

The lithium-ion battery in the car can stores enough power to drive 50km (31.1 miles). It can optionally be charged by Audi Wireless Charging. A pad in the garage floor transfers the power inductively to a receiver coil in the automobile with a power output of 3.6 kW.

The A8 also includes an automated driving. The system gets activated when the artificial intelligence (AI) button in the central console is pressed. The self-driving system can take charge of driving in slow-moving traffic at up to 60km/h on freeways and highways, with physical barrier separating the two lanes.  

A8 has an array of onboard sensors ranging from radar sensors, front camera and ultrasonic sensors. These sensors collect information and send it to the central driver assistance controller (zFAS), which processes the information to drive the vehicle safely.

The onboard AI system is claimed to engage in intelligent conversation with the driver. The AI has a deep learning system which can learn from the route just driven.

Image: Audi debuts new luxury sedan A8 with self-driving capabilities. Photo: Courtesy of AUDI AG.