What Is It?
The 2019 Audi A8 is an all-new generation of large flagship luxury sedan. What that entails at this point in the 21st century is a heck of a lot of technology. Beneath that cool exterior design and within the A8’s aluminum frame is an array of sensors, actuators and processors with the express purpose of relieving a driver from the duller duties of everyday motoring.
There’s a button on the A8’s dashboard marked “AI” — as in “artificial intelligence” — and this is the crucial thing that makes the car the first automated vehicle available to the public. (Level 5, incidentally, is completely autonomous, with not even a steering wheel or pedals.) The Traffic Jam Pilot feature allows the fourth-generation A8 to drive itself in certain conditions without the driver having to be involved. Awesome. There’s just one problem: AI won’t be offered in the United States yet, because there are still some federal regulations to get around.
However, Audi is pursuing AI in a big way, bringing two autonomous concepts to the 2017 Frankfurt Auto Show. One is called Elaine (El-AI-ne), which is an all-electric crossover with “4-door coupe” styling. It can drop a driver off and then go and park itself. This is categorized as a Level 4 autonomous vehicle, able to handle situations like highways and parking garages.
The other 4-wheeled robot concept is the Aicon (AI-con) electric vehicle, a large luxury sedan that’s full-on Level 5, with no controls for a driver. These levels have been established by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), an American organization. As an interesting aside, Audi gives this all-wheel-drive EV a theoretical range of 497 miles from a single charge, even with a muscular 348 horsepower and 405 lb-ft of torque. That would be truly impressive out in the real world. Both concepts give their occupants time to do other things — and time is ultimately a luxury.
It’s too soon to get pricing on the 2019 Audi A8. The 2018 A8 is the last of the previous generation, and that starts at around $84,500.
When Can You Get It?
The all-new A8 is set to arrive early summer 2018.
Add It to Your Shopping List Because…
Even though the current Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7 Series are filled with wondrous technology, the new A8 is expected to take things to another level.
Other Cars to Consider
2018 BMW 7 Series — The most luxurious 7 Series ever, yet still great to drive.
2018 Cadillac CT6 — Makes all the right moves and has all the right toys, except no V8 engine is offered. A turbocharged V6 is still pretty good, though.
2018 Lexus LS — All-new for 2018 and a quantum leap over the old model.
2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class — The major player in this category, as it always has been. Refreshed for 2018.
2018 Porsche Panamera — Dynamics, engines and quality all deserve to wear the Porsche badge.
2018 Tesla Model S — Comes with many semi-autonomous features already. Quick, tech-rich and well-styled. A firm favorite in places like California because it makes no emissions.
Editor’s Note: Since this is new technology, some terms are new or being newly applied. To make some minor semantic differences clearer to the average consumer, we’ve created a separate article that points out the differences and similarities in words like “Self-driving” and “Autonomous.” For consistency, we have also updated the text in this article.