Its not often that a European luxury carmaker choses a North American location to debut their flagship model. However Miami Beach is not your typical American city. It has often been referred to as the American Riviera over the years. So it’s no wonder that Audi AG picked this iconic and exclusive location as the backdrop for the World Premiere of the all-new 2011 A8 sedan.
Brought in to emcee the event was Hollywood actress Lucy Liu. Adding to the visual smorgasbord was an endless stream of leggy spokes models. Oh, and there were also about 1000 journalists – from all four corners of the globe – who were the first to witness the unveiling of Audi’s new flagship sedan.
The new A8 is being billed as a technical work of art. Stefan Sielaff, head of Audi design, pointed out the new A8 not only had to be technologically improved, but the finished product had to combine function with the aesthetic.
From the sculpted all aluminum body – over an aluminum space frame to the radically different LED lighting and onboard technology. This version of the A8 is unlike either of its’ predecessors.
The new LED head light array gives the A8 a radically different appearance than any of the competitors in the luxury segment. The system uses both yellow and white LED clusters to act as low beam driving lights and daytime running lights. Meanwhile a separate hi-intensity grouping functions as the high-beam array. In what must be a first, Audi has linked the adaptive headlight system to the onboard navigational system. So the vehicle will anticipate an upcoming corner activate side-cornering lights and will also switch to highway longer-range lighting as you enter the onramp.
No one does interiors like Audi. The new A8 is just as well executed and just as lavish as one would expect from the masters of ergonomic bliss. Twelve-way adjustable front seats are complimented with optional electric adjustments in the rear seating area. A new center console arrangement – with multi-colour accent lighting – houses a new Multi Media interface (MMI) which has incorporated a novel twist: the addition of a touchpad. One demo video showed the driver of the vehicle using finger gestures to spell out a letter, which led to the corresponding section of his onboard phone book.
Even with its longer and wider profile the new A8 has a surprisingly low drag coefficient of only 0.26. The 372 HP 4.2L FSI engine mated to an all new 8 speed tip-tronic transmission, will launch the large all wheel drive sedan to 100 km/hr in 5.7 seconds – this while producing fuel economy readings as low as 9.5L/100 KMS. Least you get too excited consider the 4.2L TDI option (350 HP & 590 lb-ft). An engine capable of accelerating the A8 to 100km/hr faster (5.5 seconds) and is relatively miserly on fuel (7.5L/100 KMS) in comparison to previous editions. The 3.0L V6 TDI front wheel drive model is rated at an astonishing 6.0L/100 KMS. These lower fuel economy ratings also translate into lower CO2 emissions making the A8 a greener option compared to competing vehicles.
Audi’s latest edition of its’ luxury sedan goes on sale in early 2010. Whether North Americans will be offered a diesel option remains to be seen. Regardless Audi is continuing to build market share in this segment and will turn more than a few heads with this impressively luxurious touring sedan.