This ultimate luxury limo, due out early next year, could basically drive itself—if it wasn’t for Canadian laws not allowing it to
Touchscreens, no buttons
Active air suspension
Wireless hybrid charging
Laser lights and LIDAR
Audi’s all-new A8 is the first production car to have Level 3 autonomous driving capability. That means the driver could take his or her eyes of the road – to watch TV on the in-car screen, for example – under certain conditions on highways. But there’s a big “but.”
Currently Canadian law says the driver is responsible for the vehicle at all times. In fact, nowhere in the world currently allows Level 3 autonomous cars on the road, except for testing purposes. So when the A8 arrives in Canada in the first half of 2018, it will do so without its coolest feature. (Photo: Audi)
This is an all-new cabin from Audi. Everything has been revamped from the layout to the tiniest buttons. It’s ultra-clean and modern. Frankly, we think it sets a new bar. Expect some version of this interior to appear in all future Audi models.
There are screens galore in the new A8. Two huge touchscreens replace the central console. Bye-bye, buttons. Both screens are pressure-sensitive and give haptic feedback, in an effort to make them easier and less distracting to use while driving.
The graphic design is new and was created by Audi to blend into the overall cabin atmosphere. (So many automakers seem to get this wrong.) The upper screen controls over 1,000 functions. The lower one is exclusively for climate and seat heating/cooling, plus a few shortcuts to your favourite functions.
The A8 features four electric motors – powered by a 48-volt electrical system – with one connected to each wheel. The motors can raise or lower any wheel individually to deal with bumps or potholes, or to reduce body roll, sharpen steering response, and change the chassis balance. Clever stuff. (Photo: Audi)
The A8 will likely have V6, V8, and W12 engine options, but the most interesting powertrain is the plug-in hybrid. It’s a plug-in you won’t need to plug-in. Install a wireless charger on the floor of your garage or driveway, park the car on top of it, and charging is done automatically. No cables needed. Total powertrain output is 449 horsepower. A full wireless charge takes less four hours, and the car will be able to drive in electric mode for 50 kilometres. (Photo: Audi)
Yes, a car with frickin’ laser beams. Lots of ’em. Laser lights are nothing new for Audi, they’re just (still) not legal in Canada. We’ll have to make do with LED and OLED units instead. LIDAR is laser-radar, and it’s the first time it’s making an appearance on a production car. It’s mounted behind the front grille, and “sees” the world by shooting out lasers in all directions and interpreting the reflections. It enables Level 3 autonomous driving.
Luxury limos like this are big, heavy things. Weight is the enemy of fuel economy and handling. The A8 rides on a platform made mostly of aluminum, but the rear bulkhead is carbon fibre to reduce weight.
As nifty as all that technology is up in the front seat, the back seat is the place to be in the stretched A8 L. Not only does the seat recline until you’re almost lying flat, but it has a massaging function, too. There’s even a foot massager – with multiple settings – in the back of the front seat.