2018 Audi A8 Review

It’s nearly time to hand over the helm and let the car do the driving. The new Audi A8 shows it’s possible

By Shahzad Sheikh

Click below to watch my Audi A8 Review now.

Captain Kirk doesn’t ‘drive’ the starship Enterprise. Sulu does that. And Chekov handles defences, Uhura manages connectivity and everyone knows that Spock is the real brain on the bridge. And this, may be a way to perceive our future relationships with cars as they become more and more autonomous. You may not be driving the car anymore, but you’re still the Captain.

2018 Audi A8

Audi possibly hinted at as much with a little video it created to demonstrate the Autonomous drive features of the new A8. The video features an imaginary command bridge crew that takes over the controls of the car – their mission: to boldly go through the hazard-strewn city streets and make it safely to the hills where (much to the imaginary helmsman’s disappointment) the human retakes control.

2018 Audi A8

Why did Audi go to such lengths to demonstrate the driverless abilities of its new flagship super-cruiser? Because it’s the first full production car to feature Level 3 Autonomous driving systems on board. Essentially this means that it can drive itself up to 60kph on motorways and traffic. Plus it can park itself – and you don’t even have to be in the car!

2018 Audi A8

We’ve jumped a little ahead of ourselves with this piece so let’s slingshot around the sun with the help of Mr Spock’s calculations to time-travel a few moments back and start this piece properly.

2018 Audi A8

The new A8 will go on sale here in March initially with a 3.0 V6 with 340bhp and enough torque to whisk you to 100kph in 5.6 seconds – can’t wait for the S8 though! It’s longer than before, slightly taller but fractionally narrower (which is good for those car park ramps!). There’s a wider grille and horizontal style lines pulling right across from its face to its flanks giving it an elongated and elegant stance.

2018 Audi A8

Inside it’s completely new, yet somehow familiar with full digital screens for the instrument panel, and two more replacing pretty much all the buttons on the dashboard. They’re touch-sensitive of course, complete with haptic feedback.

2018 Audi A8

In addition to Quattro all-wheel drive, it has active all-wheel steering to make it both more manoeuvrable for the valet parking drivers to manage and more stable at speed as you zig-zag between the Dubai-Abu Dhabi traffic – not that we encourage that sort of thing. Not too much anyway. It’s not as if you’re in Ronin, right. One could imagine though…

There’s 40 driver-assist features and electro mechanical active air suspension which uses regenerated power to individually control all for corners for damping and rebound on tricky tarmac, as well as keeping it level when hurled around a corner – which is rather surreal.

2018 Audi A8

And then there’s the way a camera in the front – oh it has cameras, radars, sonars, long-range sensors, deflector shields, tachyon wave generators… Okay I might have borrowed some of those from Trek. Anyway, as I was saying, one of the voodoo things it does is constantly scan the road ahead, detect any bad bumps and perturbing potholes and instantly prep the suspension to cope with them.

2018 Audi A8

The rear seats, especially the one behind the passenger is the place to be though, that’s the real Captain’s chairs. As you recline back and finger the pad that Yeoman Rand has just handed you, you close your eyes and imagine she’s giving you a massage as well. Then you notice Spock’s raised eyebrow and startle yourself awake from the reverie, realising that actually it’s the just the massage feature in the seat doing its thing.

2018 Audi A8

Should you give the driver the day off though, you’ll find a big car that shrinks and swivels around your helm commands with majestic aplomb. Despite all the auto-piloting awesomeness, it’s still somehow a car more engaging than the 7 Series.

Driving the A8

So when you get one in March, do me a favour and paint the bonnet with this: ‘USS Enterprise, NCC 1701’ and I will salute you with the Vulcan greeting as you pass by reading a newspaper at the wheel. Live Long and Prosper… as long as the Autopilot holds!

Spock

 

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