Compared with the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the Audi A8 has always been the underappreciated full-size German luxury car. Despite playing the plutocrat transportation game rather well and being a more absorbing drive than its rivals, it has always lagged behind in sales. But now Audi is throwing everything it has learned in the years since at the next-generation A8, including electric turbocharging, gesture controls and limited autonomous driving abilities.

The next A8 is expected to arrive in 2017 as the new flagship, and will pave the way in terms of styling (it will take a page from the Prologue Concept introduced at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show), engines and technology for the subsequent Audis. “The A8 will be the next generation of the every successful vehicle model for Audi, so what we are doing is looking at which future technologies make sense for our customers, what do they expect and how can we surprise out customers,” Audi technology boss Ulrich Hackenberg told Auto Express. “The next level of sophisticated technology will be in the A8.”

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Why it matters

We’ve been hearing about Audi’s experiments with electric turbos for a while now, most recently in the Audi TT Clubsport Turbo concept, but Hackenberg says the A8 will be the first consumer-facing application, and will appear in other models shortly after. Unlike a traditional turbocharger, driven by exhaust gases, the electric turbo is driven by an electric motor. Because is doesn’t have to wait for exhaust pressure to build, the turbo can spin at any speed necessary, virtually eliminating lag. The system does require a sizable battery pack, but the extra weight should be offset by the A8s new MLB chassis architecture, which is estimated to save over 400 pounds.

With all its new technology, the next A8 sounds like it could finally make an impact in a segment in which it has traditionally struggled.

Gesture control will be rolled out first with the face-lifted 2016 Golf, but will be taken a step further with the next A8. Buttons will be virtually eliminated and all functions — stereo, navigation, Bluetooth, temperature control, etc. — will be managed via an LED screen. Haptic feedback lets the driver know when a selection has been made without having to look down at the screen, a potentially dangerous drawback of traditional touchscreens.

The next A8 will also include every autonomous driving piece of hardware Audi has in its arsenal. Long-range radar, ultrasonic sensors, laser scanners and video cameras will work in concert as passive safety measures and will navigate traffic jams at up to 37 mph. Looking further ahead, it’s conceivable that Audi could release software updates that enable fully autonomous driving as new federal regulations are enacted.

With all its new technology, the next A8 sounds like it could finally make an impact in a segment in which it has traditionally struggled. It all sounds very promising, but you can be sure Mercedes and BMW (the next 7 Series isn’t far off either) won’t be sitting idle.

2015 Audi A8

2015 Audi A8 High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review here.

Source: AutoExpress

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