Vehicle Overview from Edmunds.com
Edmunds.com 2011 Audi A8 Overview
Audi has upped the ante in the high-stakes luxury game with the redesigned 2011 A8. The new Audi flagship is bigger (3 inches longer and 2 inches wider) and will feature enough technological doodads to make the most jaded of geeks swoon. The regular-wheelbase model is set to roll into showrooms this fall, with a long-wheelbase version to debut shortly thereafter and a possible hybrid to launch at the end of 2011. The 2011 Audi A8 is being touted as the sportiest among competing luxury sedans, with a focus on driving dynamics. Power has only increased slightly, with the A8 making 372 horsepower and 328 pound-feet of torque from its 4.2-liter direct-injected V8. A new eight speed automatic transmission should be able to make the most of the output. The A8 lacks the horsepower and torque numbers of the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes S550, but it trumps them both with a lighter curb weight (4,045 pounds) and standard all-wheel drive. Audi estimates a 0-60-mph time of 5.7 seconds. Part of the sporty driving dynamics' promise is due to the all-wheel-drive system's 40/60 percent power distribution between front and rear wheels under normal driving -- up to 80 percent can be sent rearward when needed. For even more athleticism, an optional sport differential will also be offered. All of the thrills and driving enjoyment won't come at the expense of efficiency, though, as the new A8 is expected to increase fuel economy by 15 percent over last year's model. The big Benz and Bimmer have generally had a technological edge over the A8, but that may no longer be the case, since the new Audi is loaded with high-tech features. A new dynamic steering system can intervene with automatic countersteering in a slide, and can also quicken the steering ratio by 100 percent when parking. Other enhancements include adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functions, automatic emergency braking and night vision with thermal imaging and pedestrian detection. The real scene-stealer may end up being the in-dash features, though. Audi has introduced a new trace-pad interface that reads fingertip gestures as letters and commands. This innovation will be paired with Google Earth navigation that will make use of cell phone data networks via an integrated modem. Add to that a sweet-sounding 1,400-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system and the 2011 Audi A8 looks to mount a serious challenge for luxury sedan supremacy. Check back later in the year for a full review of the 2011 Audi A8.