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2019 Audi A8: LA Auto Show

What Is It?

The 2019 Audi A8 is the most technology-packed flagship sedan Audi has ever made. This new model represents the debut of the A8’s fourth generation, and it enters an arena where some of the most impressive and cutting-edge automotive features are essential if a car is to have a hope of selling.

Naturally, there are plenty of safety features on offer, and more steps toward autonomous driving. The new A8 has sensors, cameras, radar and — for the first time in a production car — laser scanning. These all contribute to the A8 having a precise virtual image of its surroundings, enabling things such as remote parking and intersection assistance to be much more exact.

The company say this is the first production vehicle it has built that’s been developed especially for Level 3 autonomous driving. This is the middle step on a 5-step scale created by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and is described as “Conditional Automation: The driving mode-specific performance by an Automated Driving System of all aspects of the dynamic driving task, with the expectation that the human driver will respond appropriately to a request to intervene.”

With the new A8, the Level 3 aspect is Traffic Jam Pilot, which can take care of acceleration, steering and braking, and does not require the driver’s hands to be on the wheel until the system makes a request (while still well within the car’s capabilities). However, this function may not be available when the car first goes on sale. Audi states that “many factors have to be in place to deliver a first-of-its-kind technology. Audi continues to assess timing and will deliver the system when market readiness allows.”

Because it’s an Audi A8, that means its aluminum-intensive construction takes on a highly polished form. If any design could be called “subtly stunning,” it’s this one. The lighting is all-LED, with organic light-emitting diodes (OLED) for the taillights. The cabin is supremely sleek yet also welcoming.

A new drivetrain is also launched with the A8, mixing a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 with an electric motor for a “mild hybrid” setup. This allows the engine to have a stop/start feature, and energy from braking can be captured and stored. In this instance, it will also power the rapid electrical actuators that form an active suspension system.

Even though there are many other features, let’s just mention that the rear-wheel-steering function means even the long-wheelbase version of the A8 has a turning circle as tight as the Audi A4 premium compact sedan.

How Much?

No figures have been announced yet and won’t be until later in 2018. The outgoing 2018 model-year range starts at $83,475, but that’s with a straightforward V6 engine (no mild hybrid enhancement) and much less technology than is expected in the new model.

When Can You Get It?

The 2019 Audi A8 arrives late 2018.

Add It to Your Shopping List Because…

This is the latest leap in the evolution of large luxury sedans.

Other Cars to Consider

2018 BMW 7 Series — Great to drive, great to be driven in, modern weight-saving construction, cool features.

2018 Cadillac CT6 — Luxurious, smart and not short on tech features. The Level 2-compatible Super Cruise freeway driving assistant is particularly intriguing.

2018 Lexus LS — All-new for 2018. Brings the LS back to its rightful place as a top contender.

2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class — So many great details, it would take a book to mention them all. Updated for 2018.

2018 Porsche Panamera — This generation is still fresh, blending luxury with amazing driving talents.

2018 Tesla Model S — All-electric, so range might be an issue. But fast and futuristic.

See all 2017 LA Auto Show articles

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Colin Ryan
Colin Ryan specializes in writing about new cars. But he has also covered trucks, vans, 3-wheelers, even the occasional motorbike. That’s the kind of thing that happens while contributing to the Los Angeles Times, Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book, Popular Mechanics, Variety, Mazda and Lexus customer magazines, as well as many enthusiast sites and publications. He was also a staff writer at BBC Top Gear magazine for several years.

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