At this week’s Frankfurt auto show, automakers will be vying to show that Tesla won’t overtake them by introducing a passel of battery-electric vehicles themselves. Here’s a look from Clean Fleet Report of one of those new electrified cars that you could be driving by the end of this decade.
Autonomous Technology, Electrification Push A8 to the Top
Audi has thrown down the gauntlet for high-end luxury cars, and put BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Tesla on notice: The 2019 Audi A8 has leapfrogged in every area with the recently refreshed BMW 7 Series and Mercedes S-Class flagship sedans as well as the challenger, the Tesla Model S. Starting with the all-new 2019 Audi A8, every single model will soon feature a 48-volt hybrid system.
The hardware starts with a belt-driven alternator-starter as the core of the 48-volt hybrid unit. The system allows the A8 to coast with the engine turned off, saving fuel. Audi says the system restarts “smoothly,” unlike some stop-start systems currently employed. The mild hybrid system can also recover some energy during braking, while the motor adds 16 horsepower (12 kilowatts) on top of the engine’s output, with the final power figure a combination of both propulsion sources. As for fuel economy, Audi estimates the mild hybrid system will reduce fuel consumption by 0.2 gallons for every 62 miles driven in real world driving conditions.
When the new 2019 A8 arrives in the U.S. next spring, it will be powered by a 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 gasoline engine delivering 354 horsepower and a healthy 369 pounds-feet torque. An eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission will deliver that power to all four wheels, as all 2019 A8s will come with permanent Quattro all-wheel drive. Optional will be four-wheel steering.
On the technological front, the new A8 will be the first production car to come to the U.S. fully ready for Level 3 (on the 0-5 scale for autonomy laid out by the Society of Automotive Engineers). Called “Traffic Jam Pilot,” the system can take control of the vehicle on highways with a physical barrier separating oncoming traffic, at speeds up to 37 mph. It’ll take care of steering, accelerating and braking, and will give the driver plenty of warning when it’s his or her turn to take the steering wheel once again. It will also be capable of parking itself, whether in a parking space or a garage. Audi will roll out activation of the A8’s autonomous driving features when U.S. federal or state laws allow.
To smooth the ride, an electromechanical suspension, with juice supplied by the 48-volt system, uses cameras that monitor the road ahead and can command the suspension to soften up over bumps. Electric motors actuate the air suspension to soften or firm up at a millisecond’s notice. It can also raise the car up if there’s a side collision to help mitigate any chance of injury by deflecting the blow to the strongest parts of the chassis.
As you would expect, the 2019 Audi A8 is fully redesigned, with nearly 90 percent of the front end covered by a new, massive hexagonal grille—it’s the automobile equivalent of a Kenworth 18-wheeler in the rearview mirror. Narrow headlights lifted from the Prologue concept cars have laser beams (not U.S. approved) within the LED Matrix lights. Out back, the taillights are joined together with a long strip of both chrome and more taillight.
No surprise to anyone, the 2019 Audi A8’s cabin is leather-wrapped and wood-trimmed. The interior adopts a reductive design with a strictly horizontal orientation. It dispenses with the familiar rotary pushbutton and touchpad of the predecessor model in favor of an instrument panel which is largely free of buttons and switches. At its center is a 10.1-inch touchscreen display which, when off, blends almost invisibly into the high-gloss black surround thanks to its black-panel look. The A8 also includes a footrest for backseat passengers with massage function. That’s coupled with heated and cooled seats as well.
When the 2019 Audi A8 hits European streets this fall, the base price will be $103,000 and change.
U.S. pricing will be announced at a later date.
Related Stories You Might Enjoy:
First Drive: 2017 Tesla Model X