New Audi A8 revealed with self-driving technology

Luxury saloon gets mild hybrid across the range and can drive by itself on motorways at speeds of no more than 60kph.

Did it premiere in the Spiderman movie?

Sort of, but only briefly. But here is Audi’s all-new A8 which has been revealed in full at an event in Barcelona, Spain today.

The fourth-generation A8, known by the internal codename of B5, bears a new family look first previewed in the Prologue concept car of 2014. Also note the new full-width rear lights and the chrome strip.

Sitting on the MLB platform of the Volkswagen Group, the latest A8 is slightly longer than ever. The wheelbase, in particular, has grown by 6mm and measures 3,128mm in stretched form to make it competitive against the BMW 7-series, Lexus LS and Mercedes-Benz S-class.

Like today’s 7-series, the A8 mixes lightweight materials in a bid to keep the weight penalty as minimal as possible. Audi says aluminium makes up 58% of the A8’s body; magnesium and carbonfibre are also used in some inner structures.

The A8’s interior, as well, has been inspired by the Prologue and features an even tidier appearance than before. The brand’s Multi-Media Interface system is now portrayed via two screens and the seats are said to be lighter than in the third-gen model.

Are there any technical novelties for this class?

Certainly, as how most luxury saloons do when they are renewed in another generation. The first highlight is the A8’s ability to drive by itself – accelerating, braking and steering – on motorways at speeds of no more than 60kph.

Another one is the installation of 48V mild hybrid system across the range so that the A8’s engines can shut down during coasting; they can also shut down at idle speeds for longer times. As well, the brakes can regenerate lost energy and store it in the lithium-ion battery placed in the boot.

Other highlights can already be found in its competition like road surface-scanning adaptive suspension, four-wheel steering and remote parking assist using the key fob.

Is there a plug-in hybrid?

Before that happens, Audi is launching the new A8 with 3.0-litre V6 petrol and diesel engines producing 340hp and 286hp accordingly. Next year comes 4.0-litre V8s including 435hp diesel and 460hp petrol motors. A 6.0-litre W12 petrol head is also slated to follow with nearly 600hp. All are hooked up to eight-speed automatic and all-wheel-drive transmission.

The plug-in hybrid version comes in the form of 449hp 3.0-litre V6 petrol unit whose operation can be taken over by an electrical system for 50km. Recharging is also capable with a new optional wireless induction pad.

Is it coming to Thailand?

It’s most likely to arrive next year, although it won’t be a big seller because Audi has no local assembly lines in Thailand to enjoy extra-low tax benefits for plug-in hybrids (5% for Thai-built models and 10% for imported ones).

Theoretically, the ideal choice would be that plug-in hybrid to directly rival the S500e and the less powerful 740Le in the 6-7 million baht range. But both the BMW and Merc are built at Thai factories.

The Thai Audi office could also be settling for the conventional 3.0-litre V6 petrol version (it’s already a mild hybrid, after all) to avoid the 50% excise tax imposed on engines bigger than 3,000cc.

Credit: Bangkokpost/ kapook

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