2011 Audi A8 Preview

Jeff Youngs | Dec 31, 2010
  • Redesigned for 2011
  • Longer, wider and taller than the outgoing model
  • Lightweight aluminum body space frame
  • Full LED illumination, including headlights
  • Standard 372-hp, 4.2-liter V-8 engine
  • New 8-speed automatic transmission
  • Standard quattro all-wheel-drive powertrain
  • Standard adaptive air suspension
  • Available Audi Pre Sense safety equipment
  • Next-generation multi-media interface (MMI)
  • Arrives in the fall of 2010


2011 Audi A8The world debut of the first Audi A8, the automaker's flagship full-size luxury sedan, was in 1994. Available exclusively to the European market, it did not arrive in North America until 1997. Sleek and aerodynamically styled, the A8 sedan was the world's first car built on an all-aluminum platform that was designed to save weight, improve corrosion resistance, and increase performance. The so-called "Audi Space Frame" represented the pinnacle of Audi engineering, and it was to set the design standard for each subsequent model. The second-generation A8 was introduced in 2004. Larger and more luxurious than its predecessor, it utilized an improved next-generation Audi Space Frame and even more advanced technology. Like the earlier version, the second-generation A8 was available in both standard and long-wheelbase models, with 8- and 12-cylinder powerplants, and Audi's standard "quattro" all-wheel-drive powertrain.

The third-generation A8, designated a 2011 model, is again more evolutionary than revolutionary. It is larger, wider and taller than its predecessor, and it rides on an updated Audi Space Frame platform. Under the hood, it shares a reworked version of the familiar 4.2-liter V-8 engine yet it debuts an all-new 8-speed transmission mated to the standard quattro all-wheel-drive system. Innovative technology is found with its LED headlamps and lighting, improved next-generation multi-media interface (MMI), and new advanced "Pre Sense" safety equipment. The 2011 Audi A8 arrives in showrooms in the fall of 2010.

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2011 Audi A8


While its styling is not a radical departure from its predecessor, the all-new Audi A8 does set new standards for aerodynamics, with a drag coefficient of just .26 that's nearly on par with the vaunted Toyota Prius, and exterior lighting, with exclusive light-emitting diode (LED) technology used for all lighting including the headlamps. Sharing the familiar curves of the Audi family, including the large trapezoidal front grille, the flagship model is distinguished by its unique front driving lamps, sleek rear window, tall rear decklid, and twin exhaust pipes.

Inside the vehicle, up to five passengers are coddled within the A8's leather, wood and aluminum-trimmed cabin. The 4-spoke multi-function steering wheel allows a clear view of the newly designed instruments featuring two large oval dials with a digital information screen between them. The updated MMI display, now measuring 7 inches diagonally, raises high out of its recessed storage at the top of the dashboard. A traditional analog clock takes center stage, with the climate controls and MMI joystick positioned slightly below within easy reach.

The standard front seats offer 12-way adjustment, while optional comfort seating incorporates 22-way adjustability, heating, cooling and massaging functions. Even rear-seat passengers will travel in "first-class" style with available electric seat adjustments, electric sun shades, and 4-zone climate control. According to Audi, the new A8 is able to accommodate 18 cubic feet of luggage space-enough for four golf bags-in the trunk. The compartment includes an umbrella holder and a 12-volt power outlet.

Model Lineup

Audi will initially introduce just two eight-cylinder models; standard and long-wheelbase (A8 and A8L). However, a variety of powerplants, including diesel, hybrid, and performance-oriented V-8 or V-12 models, are expected to debut in the future.

2011 Audi A8


The all-new Audi A8 arrives with an updated-and more powerful-variant of the familiar 4.2-liter V-8 engine which was fitted to the outgoing model. Now rated at 372 horsepower and 328 lb.-ft. of torque, the direct-injected engine is 15 percent more fuel efficient than its predecessor, says Audi. The A8 also debuts with a completely new 8-speed automatic transmission (good for another 6-percent increase in fuel efficiency, says the automaker) and Audi's quattro all-wheel-drive system as standard equipment. The all-wheel-drive system has been designed with a rear-biased torque split (40:60) for improved handling and a "rear-wheel drive" feel, Audi states. According to the manufacturer, the 2011 Audi A8 sprints from a standstill to 62 mph in 5.7 seconds towards an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.

All A8 models are built on Audi's innovative lightweight "Audi Space Frame" platform-40 percent lighter than a steel counterpart, says the automaker. The front suspension has five control arms and is constructed of forged aluminum. The rear suspension utilizes a track-controlled trapezoidal link that is constructed of steel and lightweight aluminum. Controlling wheel movement is an adaptive air suspension which automatically interacts with the engine and transmission to improve the vehicle's ride-even going so far as to lower the vehicle at highway speeds to improve aerodynamics. In addition, the driver may use the MMI interface to switch between "comfort, auto or dynamic" suspension modes for individualized ride comfort.

The braking system has been re-engineered for the new A8's increased performance. The four disc brakes feature aluminum calipers-a technology borrowed from sports cars-to save weight and improve ride quality, Audi says. Wheel sizes range from 17 to 21 inches in diameter, depending on model.

2011 Audi A8

Safety and Technology

The 2011 Audi A8 is available with the latest version of the automaker's "Pre Sense" safety technology designed to prevent accidents before they happen, and protect both the vehicle's occupants and pedestrians outside the car. The flagship A8 model is fitted with electronic sensors on nearly all sides of the vehicle. Sensors on the front of the vehicle are used by the adaptive cruise control-with stop and go function-to ease the driver's workload during commutes. A front-mounted thermal imaging camera scans the road ahead and informs the driver by marking detected pedestrians with more accuracy than a human eye. Radar sensors on the side of the vehicle assist with lane change maneuvers, while sensors (and a camera) on the rear of the vehicle help during parking and low-speed driving situations.
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