Audi pulled the wraps off its new A8 yesterday, with a little help from Kill Bill actress Lucy Liu. At a glittering ceremony in Miami to mark the conclusion to Audi’s centenary celebrations, the new A8 was revealed to rapturous applause.

Measuring 5,137 mm in length on a 2,992 mm wheelbase, the car is slightly longer than before. It’s also wider at 1,949 mm and 1,460 mm tall. However thanks to the use of an aluminum Audi Space Frame (ASF), the new model weighs around 40 percent less than a comparable steel structure.

The new A8 range starts off with a choice of two engines, a 4.2 FSI with 273 kW (372 bhp) or a 4.2 TDI, packing 258 kW (350 bhp) and a crushing 800Nm of torque. They will be followed by a 3.0 TDI with 184 kW (250 bhp) and a 150 kW (204 hp) entry level model that achieves a a class leading CO2 emission rate of 159 g/km.

All engines provide increased power and torque over their predecessor – but their fuel consumption has dropped by between 13 and 22 percent, thanks to new technologies like the energy recuperation system and innovative thermal management system.

The standard new transmissions play a large part in the A8’s improved efficiency – the 8-speed tiptronic finely graduates its eight gears while achieving a large overall spread. Its control system is purely electronic, operated with an elegant selector level and rocker switches at the steering wheel. The quattro permanent all-wheel drive has a distinct sporty and rear-end character and on request, the optional sport differential dynamically distributes the forces between the rear wheels (currently in use on the latest Audi S4) and is a standard feature on the A8 4.2 TDI model.

Audi’s multimedia interface (MMI) receives another significant upgrade for this new A8: Combined with the optional navigation system it has a touchpad. MMI touch enables the driver to control many functions intuitively; for example, the navigation destination can be entered by tracing the letters on the pad.

MMI navigation plus is also networked in a novel fashion with the A8’s driver assistance and safety systems. It follows the route in advance during driving and provides the data to the control units for the automatic transmission, the headlights and for the ACC stop & go function. Their enhanced intelligence enables these systems to recognize complex scenarios and to make anticipatory decisions to assist the driver. The new technologies include a night vision assist with marking of detected pedestrians, the Audi pre sense safety system as well as – in the course of 2010 – a speed limit display.

“The new Audi A8 is the sportiest sedan in its segment,” says Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG. “It combines numerous functions in a new and intelligent way. And it’s unmatched in the stylistic elements and impression of the interior.”

Written By

Steve Davies

Steve is an investor, private equity advisor and former Partner at KPMG, PwC and Bain.   Most importantly he's a life-long car enthusiast, mountain biker and active sports enthusiast. He designs and builds technology platforms and is the architect behind Transmission.

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