Audi A8 2018 International Drive
The Audi A8 is a very important model for the German brand and this 2018 model has made that very clear to the market. Now, shall competitors under the luxury sedan segment such as the BMW 7 Series, Mercedes Benz S Class, Cadillac CT6 and Jaguar XJ need to be worried? Well, if you want an answer to that, read the rest of this article and proceed to watching the related videos.
First, let me give you a bit of background and what had happened this year with regards to the launch of the 2018 Audi A8. As you might remember, a couple of months ago we flew to Barcelona for the Audi Summit. Back then we had the exclusive opportunity to get a "sneak peek" of the model one day before its international reveal during the first-ever event by Audi.
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If you don't remember, I strongly recommend you click on the following links to better understand the context and the car. We had an interview with the head of the exterior and interior design. In addition, a comprehensive coverage of the Audi Summit where the 2018 Audi A8 was presented for the first time.
Now that I have warmed you up, it’s time to write about our experience with the car during the international drive in Valencia (home of the Paella). The Audi A8 joined the brand’s line-up in 1994 (much, much, much after Mercedes-Benz and BMW were already targeting high-profile clientele with the S-Class and 7-Series respectively) and is currently in its fourth-generation.
More affordable than its rivals, Audi has positioned the A8 as the sportiest and most engaging to drive full-size luxury car out there. This fourth generation 2018 model maintains the spirit of previous models and adds a lot of convenient technology. Let’s be honest, when you think about an Audi A8 owner, you think of someone younger than a Mercedes-Benz S-Class or BMW 7-Series owner, and that’s part of its appeal.
Before you think about it, I'm aware all the above still does not answer the question if the competitors should be worried about this launch. But relax, we will get there. If there is something to highlight in the All-New 2018 Audi A8, it is the technology. However, nowadays, I understand that technology does not mean much if it's not addressing a human-centered need by being usable.
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With regards to the interior, the brand’s distinct footprint is present, however, this 2018 A8 introduces plenty of new technology. Higher resolution on the customizable cockpit is a bonus, especially for the GCC’s sunny weather. It’s not new that screens with low resolution are very difficult to see when the sun is shining (365 days of the year basically).
Along the center console, you will find 2 big touch screens. The upper screen has the main menu that controls nearly all the functionalities of the luxury sedan. Of course, this screen is also customizable by dragging and dropping the icons, same as you do with your smartphone. The most interesting thing that caught my attention is the haptic feedback.
Although, as I mentioned earlier, it is touch, and you need to press for things to happen. Meaning, you won’t be touching things by mistake or executing functionalities you don't really want to. While you have your finger on the screen, you will feel a very subtle vibration (on the specific area) and the sound of a click coming from the speakers. I can write millions of words to describe it, but you just need to experience it to really understand it – it is an experience.
On the second screen, you will find the climate control settings. In addition, a panel where you can type your destination to use the GPS. This is also interesting because you can use a regular keyboard (the common and boring option) or write the word with your fingers. The beauty of this, is that you can write one letter on top of the other and Mr. Audi "Usable Technology" A8 will pick up the word perfectly.
In every luxury sedan, the rear is just as important as the front. Here, the A8 feels like a lounge where you can relax in style. Please note, I'm saying a lounge and not a First-Class Emirates seat since that has already been taken by Mercedes-Benz and its S-Class (ouch!). The passengers at the back can control the seat, set up legal massages, control the radio, media and TV, among other things. The individual sitting on the right will be using a small tablet to do this. In addition, they can use this as a phone and nobody (for example his driver) will listen to the conversation.
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In the other front, the 2018 Audi A8 comes with auto parking assist using ultrasonic sensors and video stream to identify obstacles around the car. Long story short, the car will automatically recognize an empty parking slot and park itself. As I'm showing in the video, it’s very easy to use, you just need to drive past the empty parking slot, the car will recognize it and then by pressing the Audi AI button, the A8 will take it from there and park. Khalas, as simple as that.
If you want to get out of the car and make the car park itself, the Audi Garage Pilot Parking will do that for you too. I don't aim to be boring here with too many technical details, but in a few words, the car will identify an empty slot and using a laser scanner will detect if it’s big enough to fit the car and there are no obstacles in the way.
To continue the trick, you get out of the car, open a dedicated app, wait until it connects to the car (it connects fast, but should be quicker), press a button and the car will park itself. Once done, you hit finish and if you had forgotten to close the windows, the car will do that for you too. Now, you might be asking yourself, can I take the car out without sitting in it? Duh, the answer is yes. Basically, you do the same steps but in reverse order. Honestly, it’s much better if you watch the video above.
In conclusion and to answer my very first question regarding the competition and if they should be worried, I have to say an enthusiastic “YES!” Being the most affordable offering in the segment, the Audi A8 has everything you need and want, while remaining extremely easy to use. A great all-rounder, it follows the industry standard when it comes to luxury and presence on GCC roads.