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Audi A8 L 55 TFSI: Luxury flagship makes regional debut

By Ghaith Madadha - May 28,2018 - Last updated at May 28,2018

Photos courtesy of Audi

Arriving to Middle East markets earlier this month and launched internationally late last year as a 2018 model, the fourth and latest generation of Audi’s full-size luxury flagship A8 model is among the most technologically advanced in the world. 

Set to introduce the world’s most advanced production car automated driving capability and other advanced features based on Audi’s Artificial Intelligence system in stages to various markets as legislation catches up to technology, the A8 debuts regionally with a new entry-level engine and the more spacious long wheelbase body. 

 

Imposing presence

 

Though longer and taller — if slightly narrower — the latest A8 is built on a frame that is lighter than its aluminium-bodied predecessor. Employing a combination of materials including aluminium, steel, carbon-fibre and magnesium, the new A8 achieves a 24 per cent improvement in body stiffness, which translates into better safety, ride comfort and handling ability. Thoroughly well appointed and equipped, the A8 L 55 version driven weighs in at 1945kg and provides generous rear legroom. Meanwhile, clever packaging ensures similarly accommodating rear headroom, despite a more rakish and coupe-like roofline than its predecessor.

With its new and huge hexagonal single-frame grille taking centre stage aesthetically, the new A8 has a more imposing and grander sense of presence. Statuesque, the A8’s grille is flanked by slim and strongly browed headlights with bisected LED elements. With flowing roofline and relatively level waistline from profile, the A8’s surfacing is meanwhile meticulously detailed, with sharp ridges and creases, and a complex bonnet shut line that rotates from vertical to horizontal. At the rear, its full width lights are a nod to the 1980s Audi 200 and original V8 models, and seem to look best with dark blue or grey colours.

 

Frugal and flexible

 

With V8 and W12 engine models not yet regionally available, the just launched A8 L 55 TFSI is, however, more than capable of delivering a swift, smooth and versatile driving experience, and is mated to a slick and quick 8-speed automatic gearbox with a broad range of close ratios to deliver good performance, consistency and efficiency. Displacing 3-litres, the turbocharged direct injection V6 engine found in the 55 TFSI features short gasflow paths and a variable geometry turbo to achieve a similar level of responsiveness as its supercharged predecessor, but with enhanced efficiency. 

With negligible turbo lag from launch, the A8 L 55 TFSI develops 335BHP at 5000-6400 and 368lb/ft throughout a broad and easily accessible 1370-4500rpm mid-range, and is able to propel Audi’s flagship from standstill to 100km/h in 5.7-seconds and onto a 250km/h maximum. Smooth, versatile and willing, the 55 TFSI accelerates with a clean and sweeping consistency from idling to redline. Meanwhile, its fuel efficiency is further enhanced by standard 48V mild hybrid system standard across the A8 model range, which contributes to a 0.7l/100km reduction in fuel consumption.

 

Smooth and sophisticated

 

Powered by regenerative braking, the A8’s 48V mild hybrid system powers ancillary systems — rather than helping to drive the car — and when fully operational, allows the stop/start system to shut down the engine from 22km/h and for brief coasting at
55-160km/h, which helps the A8 achieve low 7.8l/100km combined consumption. Not yet available regionally, the A8 48V system also powers an optional electromechanical system, which in conjunction with Audi AI, will “read” the road and adjust individual wheels through electric motors to deliver a silky smooth ride and superbly controlled handling agility. It can even raise the car in anticipation of a collision.

Driven at regional launch on Dubai roads with standard and improved five-link adaptive air suspension, the long wheelbase A8 was in its element on the largely smooth and fast roads. Reassuringly stable and planted at speed and through sweeping bends, the A8 felt settled and buttoned down on rebound and over imperfect surfaces, and seemed to smooth out road textures without feeling distant or disconnected. Through corners, its steering was direct and quick, while body control was taut and flat. Inside, its ride is comfortable and well refined from noise, vibrations and harshness.

 

Committed and comfortable

Fluently adapting to road surface textures, the A8 is more than just a comfortable cruiser, but also offers tenacious traction and committed road-holding owing to its standard Quattro four-wheel-drive. Able to distribute power between front and rear, the A8’s Quattro system allows for confident cornering stability. Meanwhile, numerous electronic driver assistance systems help maintain safety and stability, and though not available regionally at launch, the A8 host of advanced systems include an optional four-wheel-steering system, which allows it to handle and manoeuvre with the agility of a considerable smaller car.

Spacious and luxurious inside, the A8 is finished with fine woods, leathers a

nd metals and seems well assembled with not audible squeaks. Space is generous and seat adjustability accommodating front and rear, while visibility is good for this segment, and is aided by numerous camera, radar and sensor based systems. Designed with an emphasis on horizontal lines, the A8 is tasteful and uncluttered inside, and features a configurable instrument panel and twin infortainment screens with heptic feedback touch buttons.

As for its most advanced system, when it becomes optionally available, the A8’s level 3 autonomous driving capability will allow the car to stop, start, steer and brake without constant monitoring, at up to 60km/h under the right conditions.

 

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

  • Engine: 3-litre, turbocharged, in-line V6-cylinders
  • Bore x stroke: 84.5 x 89mm
  • Compression ratio: 11.2:1
  • Valve-train: 32-valve, DOHC, direct injection
  • Gearbox: 8-speed automatic, four-wheel-drive
  • Ratios: 1st 4.714; 2nd 3.143; 3rd 2.106; 4th 1.667; 5th 1285; 6th 1.0; 7th 0.839; 8th 0.667
  • Reverse/final drive: 3.317/3.076
  • Drive-line: self-locking centre differential, optional limited-slip rear-differential
  • Power distribution, F/R: 40 per cent/60 per cent
  • Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 335 (340) [250] @5,000-6,400rpm
  • Specific power: 111.8BHP/litre
  • Power-to-weight: 172.2BHP/tone (unladen)
  • Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 368.8 (500) @1,370-4,500rpm
  • Specific torque: 166.9Nm/litre
  • Torque-to-weight: 257Nm/tone (unladen)
  • 0-100km/h: 5.7-seconds
  • Top speed: 250km/h (electronically governed)
  • Fuel consumption, urban/extra-urban/combined: 10.3-/6.4-/7.8-litres/100km 
  • CO2 emissions, combined: 178g/km
  • Fuel capacity: 72-litres
  • Length: 5,302mm
  • Width: 1,945mm
  • Height: 1,488mm
  • Wheelbase: 3,128mm
  • Track, F/R: 1,644/1,633mm
  • Approach/departure angles: 14°/13.7°
  • Aerodynamic drag co-efficient: 0.27
  • Luggage volume: 505-litres
  • Unladen/kerb weight: 1,945/2,020kg
  • Steering: Electric-assisted rack & pinion
  • Turning Circle: 12.9-metres
  • Suspension: Five-link, adaptive air dampers
  • Brakes: Ventilated & perforated discs
  • Tyres: 265/40R20

 

 

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