All-new Audi A8 on sale from autumn 2017

  • New A8 brings luxury that's lighter and more efficient
  • All have mild-hybrid drivetrains and air suspension
  • AI autonomous driving technology to follow in 2018

Audi A8 Saloon summary - tech laden large four-door saloon

The wraps have come off the fourth-generation Audi A8 luxury saloon – and it’s a car that’s bristling with the latest technology. This means it will be available with autonomous driving technology thanks to what its maker calls Audi AI.

This will place it in a strong position to challenge for class honours against the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7 Series, the soon-to-be replaced Lexus LS and Jaguar XJ.

Tell us about those sharp new looks

Before we get to its piloted-driving technology, it’s worth pointing out (largely because it’s otherwise difficult to tell) that the 2017 Audi A8 marks an evolution of the company’s well-established design direction. So, the body features a raft of sharp styling touches and a more angular version of the brand’s signature full-depth grille.

The 2017 Audi A8 Saloon's design includes a full-width headlight strip

That’s flanked by laser headlamps, with a full-width OLED set-up for the rear lights.

Inside, the dashboard has been tidied up, with a dual-screen set-up that’s highly integrated, and both responsive and fully featured. Some will denounce the decision to move all of the climate control systems into one of the screens – but it is a logical layout, and easily mastered.

2017 Audi A8 engines

Audi has confirmed that the new A8 will initially be powered by a pair of V6 engines – a 3.0-litre TFSI turbo petrol with 286hp and a 3.0-litre TDI turbodiesel with 340hp. But the range will expand to include a V8 diesel and eventually a W12-petrol.

The 2017 Audi A8's headlight design

All engines are described as ‘mild hybrids,’ in this instance meaning they can coast with the engine off and have extended stop-start intervals. But Audi has also confirmed that an E-Tron plug-in hybrid version will follow with a 31-mile battery range and wireless charging capability.

How much is the 2017 Audi A8 and when does it go on sale?

The latest A8 comes in standard- and long-wheelbase forms, with order books opening in September 2017 ahead of UK deliveries from December.

Prices have yet to be announced but we’re told that the 2017 Audi A8 start at less than £70,000.

What is the Audi AI system?

Alongside the launch of the A8 was the unveiling of Audi AI. Essentially this is the core of what will manage the piloted drive system as Audi approaches Level 3 autonomy (click here to find out more about the different levels of self-driving car tech).

This will include allowing the car to take control during traffic jams (using traffic jam assist) and motorway driving, operated by the push of a button. There are a number of sensors that inform the system, including cameras, Lidar and – a first for Audi – laser.

Traffic jam assist takes over the tedious task of stopping and starting in queues, and will operate up to 37mph – controlling acceleration, steering and brakes. Unlike the current adaptive cruise fitted to the top-of-the-range Volkswagen Group products, you won’t need to intervene to set off from a standing start after coming to a halt.

Rear light design on the 2017 Audi A8

To ensure the driver doesn’t fall asleep at the wheel, there’s an interior camera that monitors the driver’s behaviour, and will jolt the seatbelts to ensure they’re paying attention. Audi says that autonomous driving will be rolled out in 2018.

What other technology do you get on the 2017 Audi A8?

Where to begin! There’s a remote parking system, so the driver can swing their A8 into a parking bay without even being sat in the car. It works using the car’s cameras and a smartphone to control its movements.

Other available technology includes:

  • Active pedestrian protection
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • 360-degree cameras
  • Anti-kerbing warning
  • Adaptive cruise control

Finally, the car’s navigation and infotainment systems are in constant touch with other cars via an information cloud, and can instantly provide warning of upcoming issues, such as crashes and bad weather on the road ahead. This so-called car-to-car or car-to-x capability is in addition to the usual connected tech that provides traffic info via mobile networks and wifi.

Air suspension is standard on all models, but Audi AI control will be offered, adding active ride into the A8 package. The system scans the road ahead and compensates for rough conditions and sudden surface changes.

In fact, there’s so much tech that traditional 12-volt electrics won’t hack it anymore, and the new A8 comes with a far beefier 48-volt system across the board.

What’s the 2017 Audi A8 like inside?

It looks very different to the generations that came before. The dashboard makes extensive use of multiple displays – with the majority of functions and information being handled by a large pair centrally-mounted touchscreens.

The 2017 Audi A8's interior

The upper screen looks after the navigation and infotainment, while the lower one is dedicated to the climate control settings. In addition, Audi’s Virtual Cockpit system grows to its largest-yet iteration – and you’ll also be able to specify a head-up display.

The seats are large and comfortable, with plenty of storage space in and around the front of the cockpit. Rear-seat passengers get the option of being able to recline, as well as get their own screens to control various functions as well as watch TV or another video source. There’s even an optional foot massager. Yes, really.

Anything else?

We won’t find out what the A8 is like to drive until later in 2017, but Audi engineers promise that it will have sharper steering responses and a more comfortable ride than the outgoing model. It also has more rear room than before, so should continue to satisfy those who are looking for the ultimate Audi limousine.

Stay tuned to Parkers for more on the 2017 Audi A8, with our upcoming full review.

The 2017 Audi A8's rear three quarter