A direct-injected 3.3L supercharged V6 engine making 333 horsepower is standard on A8 models. The A8L W12 FSI gets a direct-injected, 500-hp, 6.3L W12 engine. All A8 and S8 models come with quattro all-wheel drive, which is calibrated to feel sporty and enhance cornering confidence yet also take on slippery road conditions. The system can send 60 percent of torque to the rear wheels, or to whichever wheels have the best traction. Both models come with an 8-speed automatic transmission.
The A8 is a very large sedan, but it handles like a smaller, more nimble sport sedan, thanks to its air suspension system, which features three modes: Comfort, Dynamic and Automatic. Dynamic not only firms up the suspension and steering feel but also makes the accelerator pedal a little more responsive. The new A8 is built on a version of the aluminum Audi Space Frame, which helps keep weight down yet enhances rigidity, for a smooth more refined ride and crisper handling response.
A8L models are about five inches longer than the standard-wheelbase A8, with most of that length going to rear seat legroom. The A8's very spacious and luxurious cabin includes supple leather upholstery with trims and inlays that include wood veneers, aluminum and padded leather. The instrument panel design has an especially wide, flat center console and the shift lever has been modeled after the throttle control on yachts. On the outside, the A8 includes a full LED lamp system, including high and low headlight beams, parking lamps and cornering lamps.
Top driver-assistance technology options include adaptive cruise control (with a stop-and-go function), night vision assistant with pedestrian detection, Audi lane assist and Audi side assist. There's also a new Audi braking guard system, which warns the driver of obstacles or hazards ahead and will sound a warning and prime the brakes. Automatic emergency braking will even deliver strong braking when it's determined that a collision is unavoidable to help lessen its severity. Audi Pre Sense also helps reduce the severity of a crash by readying vehicle safety systems, adjusting seats to an ideal position, closing the sunroof and windows and stiffening the suspension.
Also included in the A8 is a Bang & Olufsen sound system, making 1400 watts and, as Audi puts it, "a theater-like sound experience." The navigation system also draws input from Google Maps and has an improved look.
To help manage all the onboard technology, Audi has installed a next-generation version of its Multi-Media Interface (MMI). A new MMI Touch function allows the drier to "write" out letters on a touchpad for entering navigation destinations, enter numbers for radio functions, flip through music in the MP3 library, or use it as a pointer for map functions.