Did the 2015 A8 just eat something sour, or is the A8 pouting while the Panamera soaks up all the praise within the hyper-competitive VW Group? Whatever the reason, all is not well with the new Audi flagship’s facial expression.
The 2015 Audi A8 made its public debut at Frankfurt Auto Show this week, where the new A8 range benefits from a facelift, and detail tech refinements for safety and efficiency.
The latest A8 range is larger than ever, with a much broader range of models coming to American Audi dealers in spring 2014. The U.S.-market A8 range will add a Hybrid front-wheel-drive option for the 2015 model year, as well as the current V-6, V-8 and W-12 engine choices.
Audi’s potent 3.0-liter TDI also joined the A8 line for the 2014 model year, and is available now. The engines for 2015 all feature mild output and performance tweaks, which are aimed at improved acceleration stats as well as fuel economy.
The bulk of the A8 volume in America is expected to still be the firm’s advanced 3.0-liter and 4.0-liter gasoline V-8 engines, each paired with quattro AWD as standard equipment. Short and long wheelbase choices are available, with prices that are expected to range from $76,000 to $88,000, before options.
The A8’s facelift brings an even more serious and technical appearance to the nose, with scowling LED running lights that look meaner than a junkyard dog. Part of the advanced debut of the A8 is to allow time for NHTSA approval of the all-new Matrix LED forward lighting system. Bundled with the A8’s new active safety technology, the LED style statement can actually be a key selling point for some buyers.
This facelift for the A8 leaves a number of issues from the previous model unresolved, which is not great, considering the strength of the latest Jaguar XJ and the brand-new S-Class .
Click past the jump for a detailed review of the 2015 Audi A8, with all the latest specs and stats from Audi on the performance and equipment these models will offer executive limo buyers.
Among the A8 range, the S8 is clearly the big winner in this latest restyle. It is the only one to wear a sporty front bumper and a lowered ride height, which improves the Audi’s appearance dramatically versus the stodgy chrome accents up front in the base, Hybrid and W-12 models.
New bumper and grille detailing goes along with the new headlight design, and the awkward panel creases where the front and rear bumpers meet the fenders is much improved. This is still not a beautiful sedan. Beauty is very far from the new A8’s exterior appeal, which seems to be focused on very conservative corporate buyers … or perhaps the elderly.
As with most Audi sedans, the optional appearance packages are very worthwhile to bring larger wheels and a more fashionable treatment for the gaping Singleframe grille.
Out back, a new taillight shape is wider and slimmer than before, and wears a broad chrome slash across the trunk, emphasizing the A8 flagship’s width versus the A4 and A6. Flush exhaust outlets are now wider rectangle finisher pieces, with the internal pipes varying from model to model.
The A8’s tail is not a happy design, which makes sense because it matches the nose.
The LED headlights are promised as standard on the German-market A8 4.0T, and the lower running light accents and LED turn signals are standard across the board. The Matrix lighting system runs LEDs for both the high and low beams - which may be a first in the auto world.
Manually selectable high and low beams are joined by a dynamic and adaptive setting which manages forward lighting without any driver input. Similar to automatic high-beams that come on and off by themselves based on road and traffic conditions, the Matrix system can also dim certain LEDs to avoid blinding on-coming traffic.
LED spotlights in the Matrix can floodlight specific areas of the road, as well as indicating danger in the cabin and priming the brakes as part of the Driver Assistance Package.
Not news on just how dynamic the Matrix lighting will behave be on normal highways, where the shuffling of light settings could be a major irritant for cars in front of the A8.
2015 Audi A8 - Scrolling LED Indicator Demo
Scrolling indicators are a treat up front, and the line of yellow turn signal light is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
2015 Audi A8 - Matrix LED Detail
The interior of the A8 for 2015 is basically carryover, with subtle trim and theme changes as a part of the Design Select options packages. These bring a higher grade of leather, suede and Alcantara for the headliner. Overall, it is still a very posh and clearly quite expensive cabin.
The style of the A8’s interior is starting to look very dated, but with a busy appearance to the dashboard in particular. This is in marked contrast to the new S-Class cabin, which is a simpler and more cohesive shape that reflects the current luxury mood more than the new A8, which still looks a lot like a jumbo 1990s A4.
The S-Class cabin is not a smash hit, however, with Honda Accord-style panel screens dominating the view forward and a steering wheel that may have been designed in collaboration with PlaySkool. It is a strange two-spoke wheel with a creepy grin shape in the bottom half.
2015 Audi A8 - Short and LWB Dimensions Comparison vs. Jaguar XJ
The competitive infographics show how the Audi A8’s dimensions stack up versus the short and long-wheelbase versions of the Jaguar XJ, which now offers AWD and is a smart option for people considering the Audi. Only significant advantages are highlighted, with green indicating the best-of-comparison performance.
- Fuel economy is better on the 2014 A8 than the Jaguar, and is promised to improve slightly from these totals for the 2015 model year. Dimensions of the refreshed Audi limousines stay the same as this year.
- Fuel tank size
- Engine power
- Curb weight: the aluminum XJ is nearly 500 pounds lighter than the also-aluminum Audi
- Turning radius
- Trunk Volume: The Jag has more than 2 cubic-feet of extra space in the trunk, while the BMW 7 Series has 3 extra and the Lexus LS460 5 extra cubic-feet versus the Audi
- Rear legroom
2015 Audi A8 - Trunk Detail
While official luggage volume is not yet available for the 2015 A8 models, Audi promises a revised trunk floor design that makes loading large bags easier than before. The A8 does have a ski pass-through in the rear armrest, but otherwise the seats cannot be folded to extend the trunk’s poor 13.2 cubic feet of capacity.
Drivetrain, Engine and Brakes
The Audi A8 is still almost unnaturally rapid and efficient, with even more speed for the 2015 model year. The base engine hits 60 mph in just 5.5 seconds, despite a hefty curb weight and a drop in horsepower versus the 2014 model year. Down to 310 versus 333, the supercharged V-6 is also more efficient by an estimated 1 mpg for all scores.
The big 4.0T V-8 option is the sweet spot of the lineup. This same engine is doing great work in both the Bentley Continental GT and the RS7, and is up to 435 horsepower from the 420 ponies in the 2014 A8 4.0T.
The smaller of Europe’s two diesel engine choices is also a welcome addition to the A8 range. The TDI is projected to deliver 36 mpg on the highway, a 6.5 second 0-to-60 mph sprint and only a slight price premium over the base V-6.
The TDI brings Audi’s Sport Differential as standard (the only non-S8 to do so), which helps make the A8 feel more nimble with the big iron engine block up front. The sport diff is available on the gasoline models as an option. Worth noting is that the 2014 Audi A8 TDI has a wide 41-foot turning circle, which is much more like a pickup truck than a European luxury car. No word from Audi if this will be improved for the 2015 model year.
Weight is a big problem in the A8, despite its major cabin compromises and crash repair issues stemming from its aluminum space frame. Audi is celebrating 20 years of the ASF this year, but its advantages are eroding rapidly.
The A8 is completely aluminum for all panels and chassis points, yet still tops 4,600 pounds in the LWB configuration. This is very portly in comparison with the Jaguar XJ L Supercharged, which weighs a full 500 pounds less.
How heavy and lazy in corners would the Audi be with a steel structure? The benefits of aluminum just do not seem to stack up in the A8.
2015 Audi A8 - Mechanical Details
|Model Name||A8 3.0T||A8 4.0T||A8 TDI|
|Engine||3.0-liter TFSI Supercharged 24-valve V-6||4.0-liter TFSI Twin-Turbocharged 32-valve V-8||3.0-liter Twin-Turbocharged TDI V-6|
|Transmission||8-Speed Automatic||8-Speed Automatic||8-Speed Automatic|
|Powertrain Layout||Front-engine, All-wheel-drive||Front-engine, All-wheel-drive||Front-engine, All-wheel-drive|
|Torque (Torque)||325, est||444||406, est|
|0-60 mph (Seconds)||5.5||4.7||6.4|
|Top Speed (MPH)||130, limited||130, limited||130, limited|
|EPA Fuel Economy (City/Highway/Combined)||19/28/22, est||17/27/20, est||25/37/29, est|
Pricing for the 2015 A8 is not yet available from Audi, but about $700 increase over the 2014 prices below is a safe bet.
|2014 Audi A8 Pricing||2014 MSRP||2015 MSRP Estimate|
|A8 L 3.0T||$78,800||$79,950|
|A8 L TDI||$82,500||$83,020|
|A8 L 4.0T||$87,600||$88,100|
The XJ is a great automobile, and one of the most well-balanced luxury limousines on the market. The XJ runs almost all the latest technology, matching (or besting) the Germans toe to toe on the eight-speed ZF automatic, rear-biased AWD option, and a far more special interior atmosphere.
Rarely versus previous Jaguar models that sold mostly on brand image and passion, there are actually numerous objective measures where the XJ is far superior to the A8. While high-tech, the Jaguar maintains more of an analog driving style - especially versus the 7 Series and S-Class.
The new S-Class is a really attractive design, and one that does have some classical beauty to its shapes. There is a lovely organic flow to the surfaces, and the LED accent arcs up the bodysides to form an interesting profile form. A rounder and more upright C-pillar emphasizes luxury, but even the tail of the new S-Class looks sttractive and nimble versus the A8.
An S-Class that is better looking than the A8? Almost a laughable idea until the Merc got classy and the Audi got angry.
Even though it is not visible in these spy shots, it is pretty clear that the revised A8 is going to receive the same "wave-like" LED headlamps just like we have seen in all the other revised models. There is also going to be a modified front grille and a redesigned front bumper with larger air intakes.
For the rear Audi will offer a new bumper and new taillights with the same "wave-like" LEDs.
Much as the A8 should stand for all the coolest aspects of the Audi brand identity — technology, road presence, cabin quality, performance — it just does not. The flagship of any car line should, theoretically, be the best and trickle down its style and tech to the volume segments like the A4.
Think of the A8 in these terms, and big problems arise. Imagine an A4 that looked just like this, with same interior space and handling problems: clearly it would be a huge flop versus the cutting-edge and very youthful 3 Series from BMW.
By that count, Audi’s 2015 refresh is far too strange to improve A8 sales. The A8’s engines and performance are second to none against the stopwatch, but this A8 update still seems like a missed opportunity - and possibly even a major strategic problem for the next generation of all Audi’s.
- Larger range of powertrains a welcome addition
- Sprint pace is still remarkable
- Still no touchscreen, Matrix LED lights have only 50/50 chance of being road legal by the time the new A8 arrives
- Dimensions of even the LWB A8 L sedans are not where they need to be for cabin to match even full-size American cars for roominess: low roof, tiny trunk
- Rare as it is to say about a new Audi, the A8’s new nose is a problem (you know your new car is a pig when it looks best in the dark)
- Interested buyers should look hard at the newly-competitive AWD options from Jaguar and Porsche before making a choice
Composure redefined – the Audi A8
- Audi is honing the character of its flagship model
- More powerful engines, new assistance systems and innovative Matrix LED headlight technology
- Fuel consumption reductions across the board
The new A8 places Audi among the innovation leaders in the luxury segment. One great strength of the big sedan is its lightweight construction. The Audi A8 3.0 TFSI with the normal wheelbase has a curb weight of just 1,830 kilograms (4,034.46 lb) – best-in-class for models with all-wheel drive. The body is made almost entirely of aluminum; an Audi Space Frame (ASF) design, it weighs just 231 kilograms (509.27 lb).
Length (5.14 meters [16.86 ft]), wheelbase (2.99 meters [9.81 ft]), width (1.95 meters [6.40 ft]) and height (1.46 meters [4.79 ft]) remain unchanged, making the Audi A8 the sportiest sedan in the segment. The A8 L gains an additional 13 centimeters (5.12 in) in both length and wheelbase. Both body variants feature a new trunk layout for easier loading. Additional noise damping measures reduce the already low interior noise level even further.
The dynamic design of the big sedan has become even more expressive. The engine hood, the Singleframe grille and the front bumper are even more sculptured; the lower edge of the headlight units is straight. In the German market, LED headlights are standard in all models with a V8 engine. Audi also offers optional headlights featuring Matrix LED technology, which sets new benchmarks with respect to design and technology. With these headlights, the high-beam comprises 25 individual light-emitting diodes per unit that can be switched on and off or dimmed individually depending on the situation.
This enables the headlight system to react extremely precisely to other vehicles while always brightly illuminating the road. Additional features of the new headlights are the intelligent cornering light, new-look daytime running lights and dynamic turn signals. The lighting system in the A8 uses predictive route data from the navigation system to adjust the distribution of light in response to the current driving situation. In combination with the optional Navigation plus with MMI touch, the system recognizes route data contained in the navigation system, such as curves and road classifications.
The LED lamps at the rear of the new Audi A8 have also become flatter. In all models except the S8, the redesigned bumper houses two rhomboid tailpipes. New chrome strips and high-gloss black window frames round out the differentiating design details. There is a choice of twelve colors, including five new ones. Wheels are available in sizes up to 21 inches.
The engines: more power and efficiency
Audi offer the A8 on the German market with two gasoline and two diesel engines. These are the supercharged 3.0 TFSI with 228 kW (310 hp), the V8 twin-turbo 4.0 TFSI with 320 kW (435 hp), the highly efficient 3.0 TDI clean diesel with 190 kW (258 hp) and the extremely high-torque 4.2 TDI clean diesel, which produces 283 kW (385 hp) and 850 Nm (626.93 lb-ft).
Performance has increased with most engines. When paired with quattro all-wheel drive, the 4.0 TFSI now accelerates the A8 from 0 to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in 4.5 seconds. Under partial load, the Audi cylinder on demand (COD) system deactivates four of the eight cylinders. The most efficient engine is the 3.0 TDI clean diesel, which consumes just 5.9 liters of diesel per 100 kilometers (39.87 US mpg), which corresponds to 155 grams CO2 per kilometer (249.45 g/mile) All engines satisfy the Euro 6 standard. Friction-reducing measures reduce consumption by as much as 10 percent.
The new A8 comes standard with a fast and smooth-shifting, eight-speed tiptronic. The electronically controlled automatic transmission is paired with quattro permanent all-wheel drive. Audi also offers an optional sport differential for the rear axle, which distributes the power between the rear wheels as needed. The sport differential is standard in the S8 and the A8 4.2 TDI clean diesel quattro.
The sedan owes its sporty character in large part to the sophisticated chassis. The Audi drive select system, which varies the function of various technology modules, is standard. It also controls the adaptive air suspension with adaptive damping. Audi offers the air suspension with a sporty setup upon request. The power steering uses an efficient electromechanical drive. Dynamic steering, which varies boost as a function of the speed driven, is available as an option. Carbon fiber ceramic brake discs are available for V8 models and the A8 L W12 quattro.
Another option is for 9 J x 20 aluminum-technology wheels which are based on forged support wheels. A special process joins the support wheel to a ten-spoke design element of high-strength polymer.
Hand-built character: The interior of the Audi A8
The interior of the Audi flagship dazzles with its elegant lines and generous spaciousness. Options for the front seats include ventilation and massage. Electrically adjustable, individual rear seats are available as an option for the A8 and the A8 L. The A8 L is also available with a continuous, leather-covered center console. The first-class solution here is the relaxation seat with power footrest. A large number of additional features are also available, from four-zone automatic air conditioning and power-assisted closing to a cooler.
All components in the new A8 have been carefully chosen and processed with the utmost precision. Each of the lovingly executed details documents the hand-built character of the interior. A new range of choices for seat coverings, inlays and colors is available in many areas. New additions include the woods Fine grain poplar brown-silver and Fine grain ash brown-gold natural as well as the leather Unikat, which is particularly natural-looking, soft and breathable.
The Audi design selection offers a preselection of exclusive materials and colors for the interior, including sycamore gray/marble gray. The design selection black/vermont brown with Carbon twill copper inlays is available for the Audi S8. The Audi exclusive range offers additional individualization options for particularly discerning customers.
As is typical for Audi, the new A8 features exemplarily clear controls despite the abundance of functions. Taking center stage is the MMI control element on the tunnel’s center console. MMI navigation plus also includes a touchpad. The driver draws characters on the pad (MMI touch) to control numerous navigation and multimedia functions.
For more composed driving: the assistance systems
Driving is even more composed with the optional assistance systems. The adaptive cruise control with Stop&Go function is coupled with an expanded version of the standard Audi pre sense basic safety system. The same applies to Audi side assist. New in the A8 are Audi active lane assist, which makes slight steering adjustments when necessary, and the park assist system with 360° display, which handles steering when parking. The head-up display, which is also new, projects important data in the driver’s field of vision on the windshield. The night vision assistant can now also recognize larger animals in addition to pedestrians.
Audi connect including car phone is available as a supplement to MMI navigation plus. It uses an integrated UMTS module to connect the new A8 to the Internet. Passengers can surf and e-mail freely via a WLAN hotspot. For the driver, the system delivers the tailored online services from Audi connect to the car, such as online traffic information, Google Earth, Google Street View and online news. The multimedia highlight is the Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System. The Rear Seat Entertainment system includes two displays, Bluetooth headphones and a DVD player.
The new Audi A8 is scheduled to arrive at German dealerships in November. Despite the upgraded trim level (standard LED headlights in all V8 models) and the powerful engines, prices are changing only slightly.