Parkers overall rating: 4.8 out of 5 4.8
  • High-tech interior shared with other big Audi cars
  • Three screens replace dials and most buttons
  • Exceptional level of quality and build

The Audi A8's interior has moved on in terms of tech from the outgoing model. Where that car was an lesson in restrained quality, but with a dated infotainment system, this one is much more contemporary with an elegant-looking, airy interior.

Although the A8 is all about the rear-seat passengers, the driver has been looked after comprehensively. The dashboard is dominated by a three-screen set-up, which might look a little intimidating to newcomers, but it's intuitive to use.

The instrument panel behind the wheel is just a larger update of Audi's already-excellent digital set-up – you can tailor the display to show small dials with things like the navigation map in the background.

Or you can mirror a conventional analogue set-up, and display a large pair of dials, flanking essential driving information. We like it, but appreciate it takes a little time to get used to.

Centre console dominated by screens

On the left of the wheel, an upper and lower screen replaces many of the physical buttons and switches of the old car. The top most is a conventional sat-nav and infotainment display, with very little reflection and good clarity. It features 'haptic' feedback – so when you touch the screen it feels like you're pressing a button. This can be switched off if you prefer a more simple touchscreen.

The lower screen is for the climate controls and to enter a sat-nav destination - you can do this using a simulated keyboard, or by 'writing' on the screen with your fingertip. Given the UK is a right-hand drive market, only left-handed people will feel comfortable doing this.

2020 Audi A8 interior

However, the voice control system is our preferred method because it accepts natural commands like Siri on an Apple device, or Alexa on Amazon. You want to make the cabin warmer? Just say, 'I'm cold'. Or fancy a bite to eat? Just ask it to, 'take me to the nearest restaurant'.

The driving position is excellent, and blindspots are handled by a 360-degree camera system, and various other safety systems, such as one that warns you if you're about to kerb a wheel. The A-pillar is bulky and you do feel a little distant from the action.

In the rear, head and legroom are excellent, and the seats are supremely comfortable and adjustable. There are optional reclining systems, and even a massaging footrest for the ultimate in luxury.

Ambient lighting and remote controls are useful and add glitz, but truth be told, even the standard five-seat short-wheelbase model has more than enough lounging room.

In terms of interior quality and ambience, it's more than a match for a Mercedes-Benz S-Class in term of outright style, although the A8 is a bit more subtle in its approach. One final aspect we love are the interior and exterior door handles – on soft-close models, they're microswitch activated, so you can open the doors with the merest of click. A small point, but one which underlines the quality of this car.

Comfort

  • Vast levels of refinement in the A8
  • Comfortable seats all round, especially in the rear
  • Beautiful ride quality

The Audi A8 is very comfortable, not only to sit in the rear of, but to drive. There are two suspension set-ups, both of which are air-ride systems. The 'entry-level' air suspension set-up is computer controlled and from our test drives, handles both urban driving and high-speed A-roads very well indeed.

All road surface imperfections seem to be shrugged off. Very sharp irregularities do make their way through, though, but they tend to be heard more than felt. 

It's here that the A8 really moves on from the outgoing model, as it possesses impressive levels of compliance and body control, keeping those all-important passengers in the rear calm and unfussed. Would we choose this over an S-Class in terms of comfort? The A8 isn't quite as smooth-riding, and anecdotally feels a bit less spacious in the rear.

What about Audi's active suspension set-up?

The optional active suspension is very interesting indeed. It takes the standard air set-up and adds an electrically powered lower suspension arm, which controls ride height and wheel position, as well as damping and 'springing'.

2020 Audi A8 rear seats

No matter what the driving conditions are, the A8 remains flat and smooth at all times. Even on the shortest drive, this set-up has a distinct advantage – it's every bit as compliant as the standard car, but in corners, the car leans only a tiny amount and never loses its overall composure.

Noise insulation is impressive, too, with little in the way of wind, road or tyre noise intruding into the cabin – and it's clear that Audi has worked very hard indeed on pushing the A8 to the head of the class in terms of refinement.

A forward-facing camera in the S8 model can allow the suspension to compensate for bumps in the road even before the car hits them. Will all this be worth the extra cost? Yes, if money is no object.