The Audi A8 has been launched. The new challenger in the grand saloon sector of the market impressed CAR’s testers with its styling, comfort, friendly features and on-road dynamics.

The Audi A8, of which a road test appeared in CAR’s March issue, has been launched. The new challenger in the grand saloon sector of the market impressed CAR’s testers with its styling, comfort, friendly features and on-road dynamics.
At R763 000, the A8 4,2 undercuts its main rivals, the BMW 745i and the Mercedes S500. “If the A8 had arrived on our market a few months earlier, it would have been victorious in our Top 12 grand saloon segment. Hail the new king,” the test said.
The A8’s interior is a mix of tradition and modern sci-fi. The basic architecture is reminiscent of classic large luxury cars, but the centre console gently rises until it meets the main facia panel creating a feeling of vast space for the two front occupants, and also frees up real space for the majority of the car’s controls.
Audi’s controlling system is called MMI (multimedia interface) and it brings together the user interfaces of other major functions such as audio, DVD satellite navigation, television and telephone at one central location, and uses the same operating principles to control them all. As a result, using the retractable dashboard screen and its logically positioned rotary and push button function, controls very quickly becomes second nature.
The steering wheel features unique rotary buttons that allow the driver to scroll through channels or adjust the sound system’s volume. Instrumentation has familiar chrome-rimmed faces set deep in high-quality wood.
The A8 can also be specified with an optional fingerprint recognition system (R12 000) that stores the driver’s personal settings. You put your finger on the pad to the left of the gearlever, and seating, ventilation and radio channels are returned to your favourite settings. Included in this system is keyless entry.
The optional front seats (yours for R24 650) allow the top halves of their backrests to be adjusted individually. Heating, ventilation and massaging functions are offered, too. The A8’s standard seats offer the normal ranges of adjustment, and are only slightly less comfortable, as members of the CAR team found out recently in Germany.
Rear legroom is generous, and the bench is formed to accept three in comfort. Separate ventilation is provided, as well as a rear blind and airliner style reading lights.
Safety wise, the A8 gets two-stage airbag activation for the front occupants, and Audi’s SIDEGUARD head-level airbag system as standard. Active head restraints are fitted and the brake system is supported by ESP, ABS, ASR traction control, EBD, EDL (electronic differential lock) and hydraulic brake assist.
The optional extras list is vast, allowing the owner to tailor a car exactly to his/her needs. Besides the items mentioned already, the A8 can also be specified with a tyre pressure monitoring system, sunroof, adaptive interior lighting, four-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, a selection of different trim options, two types of steering wheel and several types of seats.
The A8 is a big car, an imposing sight, especially on the dramatic optional 19-inch wheels (R19 500). It is an attractive car in a class where styling seems to have taken a back seat and features a very cohesive, clean-cut and chiselled design.
The all-aluminium A8 is again built according to Audi’s ASF (Audi Space Frame) method. Compared with the previous car, the number of body components has been reduced by using more large castings and extruded sections. The A8 has a fully enclosed spaceframe, the result of which is exceptional torsional rigidity, 60 per cent up on the previous model. Audi says the car has the lightest bodyshell in its segment, and that it is up to 50 per cent lighter than an equivalent steel body.
The test vehicle completed the 0-100 km/h time in 7,84 seconds, went on to post a 28,61 second kilometre sprint and its top speed was limited to at 250 km/h.
The Audi’s adaptive air suspension features adjustable dampers. The driver can use the MMI terminal to choose between four suspension settings; lift, dynamic, comfort, and automatic, in which case the car switches between comfort and dynamic depending on the driving situation.

Original article from Car