2008 Audi A8 Preview
By Jeff Youngs, December 31, 2007
- Revised and upgraded for 2008
- Aluminum Audi Space Frame (ASF) construction
- Standard quattro permanent four-wheel drive
- V-8, V-10 and V-12 powerplants available
- Recalibrated steering and air suspension
- Improved soundproofing for a quieter ride
- Offering Audi side-assist lane-change technology
- Updated exterior appearance
Audi's flagship A8 was first introduced to the public in 1994, although it did not arrive in North America until 1997. It was the world's first car built on an aluminum platform-the Audi Space Frame. Offering a host of standard luxury appointments, a strong V-8 powerplant, and standard quattro four-wheel drive, the A8 represented the pinnacle of Audi engineering. The second-generation A8 was introduced in 2004, utilizing the next-generation Audi Space Frame and even more advanced technology. For 2008, Audi has updated the A8 by improving the vehicle's suspension, steering, soundproofing, and technological offerings of their flagship model.
The range-topping A8 is available in four different versions: A8, A8 L, A8 L W12, and A8 . All share the same basic chassis with the exception of the "L" models, which have an additional 5 inches of wheelbase-translating directly to additional room for rear-seat passengers. While versions sold elsewhere in the world may be equipped with V-6 engines, A8 models sold in the United States offer V-8, V-10 and W-12 powerplants.
The A8 and A8 L offer V-8 power in a full- luxury sedan. Standard cabin amenities include Valcona leather seating, wood and aluminum dash inlays, 16-way power adjustable heated front seats, adaptive xenon headlamps, and a DVD-based navigation system with voice control. The A8 and A8 L ride on a four-corner air suspension with electronic shock absorption control. Standard wheels are cast alloy, 18 inches in diameter.
Befitting a 12-cylinder flagship, the A8 L W12 is fitted with a 450-hp W12 engine-only available on the long-wheelbase platform. With even more standard luxury features, rear outboard passengers will enjoy power seating, power rear and side sunshades, and their own climate control. All passengers will appreciate standard dual-paned insulated door glass, further reducing noise levels in the cabin. Sharing the suspension design with the A8 and A8 L, the standard wheels on the W12 are cast alloy, 19 inches in diameter.
The sportiest model is the S8, equipped with a performance-tuned V-10 rated at 450 hp. The interior features bi-color sport seats and brushed titanium-gray inlays on the dash. The suspension is tuned for sport and performance, and the S8 rides on standard 20-inch cast alloy wheels with high-performance tires.
For 2008, Audi reengineered the steering to offer a more direct feel, for better response. The standard adaptive air suspension was improved to be more responsive to fine bumps, for a better ride. New innovative soundproofing materials have been added to quiet the interior. The exterior of the A8 has also been freshened with new wheels, new exterior mirrors, and new taillights. The front grille has been updated to conform to the "single-frame" appearance familiar across the Audi model range.
All A8 models are built with the innovative third-generation Audi Space Frame (ASF). The process uses laser-MIG hybrid-welded aluminum "castings, profiles, and panels" to replace steel as the primary chassis material. Combined with aluminum body panels and suspension components, the Audi A8 is lighter-by several hundred pounds-than the equivalent construction in steel. The ASF construction pays off with a more rigid chassis, improved crash performance, better vehicle handling and dynamics, and increased fuel economy.
For 2008, the Audi A8 offers three different engine choices. The A8 and A8 L are equipped with a 4.2-liter V-8 rated at 350 hp and 325 lb.-ft. of torque. The flagship A8 L W12 fits a 6.0-liter W-12 rated at 450 hp and 428 lb.-ft. of torque under the hood. The performance-oriented S8 features a 5.2-liter V-10 rated at 450 hp and 398 lb.-ft. of torque. All A8 models come equipped with Audi's quattro four-wheel drive, and share the same 6-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission with DSP and Sport Program features.
The 2008 Audi A8 rides on an Adaptive Air Suspension, of Audi's own design. Solving the age-old issue of balancing ride comfort with sporty handling, the system utilizes air-spring struts controlled via electromagnetic valves to adjust the individual shock absorbers for the ride. The driver can select among four different suspension settings and ride heights, or leave the system in fully automatic mode.
State-of-the-art digital modeling has allowed Audi to build one of the safest cars in its class. Even so, in the event of an accident, A8 driver and front passenger are protected by two-stage, next-generation front air bags, knee air bags, and active head restraints. Side-mounted air bag supplemental restraints and Sideguard_ head-protection air bags are designed to offer additional protection for both front and rear outboard occupants. Lower Anchorage and Tethers for Children (LATCH) is standard, as is a tire-pressure-monitoring system.
The 2008 Audi A8 will be offered with Audi "side assist," a radar-based system designed to monitor blind spots and alert the driver to the presence of other traffic. If another vehicle appears to be rapidly approaching the blind spot-or is in the blind spot-the system will alert the driver via exterior mirror-mounted LED displays. According to Audi, the human eye is very sensitive to peripheral changes in contrast, so this signal is almost impossible to miss.
Audi "lane assist" warns the driver of a possible unintentional departure from the road lane. A tiny camera observes the road to detect the lane marking lines. When the vehicle moves towards one of the lines without the driver indicating such a move (through the blinker), the system will alert the driver through a vibration in the steering wheel.
Audiophiles will not want to miss the optional top-of-the line Bang and Olufsen Advanced Sound System. Offering more than 1,000 watts of power through 14 speakers (several automatically retract into the dashboard), the sound is pure, rich and deep.
Ratings for the 2008 Audi A8