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First Drive: Audi A8 50 TDI

By / 4 years ago / Road Tests / No Comments

The future is hybrid for Audi’s new flagship. By Dave Humphreys.

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SECTOR Luxury   PRICE £69,100-£73,095   FUEL 48.7-51.4mpg   CO2 145-152g/km

As a technology-led brand the A8 is an important newcomer for Audi. The latest generation, which arrives in the UK this month, not only marks the beginning of adopting mild-hybrid drivetrains throughout the range, but previews features you’ll see on smaller models in the near future.

External dimensions have changed little from its predecessor, and it’s still offered in standard and extended wheelbase versions, the latter gaining an additional 130mm between the axles. Styling is conservative, but gets a few modern twists: Laser Light headlights which extend visibility at high speeds, matrix LED high beams and OLED rear lamps with scrolling, animated, variable illumination.

Inside, Audi has once more raised the bar for cabin design and quality of finish. Regardless of whether you’re driving or being driven, the experience is serene and very comfortable thanks to the adaptive air suspension. Almost all of the physical buttons from the centre console give way to two large touchscreen units that can control virtually every element of the climate and infotainment systems. Not only do they react quickly, but the screens also provide haptic feedback.

The 3.0 TDI model, now known as the ‘50 TDI’ under Audi’s new powertrain nomenclature, will remain the most popular choice for business users. Pricing starts at £69,100, with emissions of 145-152g/km, depending on the size of wheels, and all versions include mild-hybrid technology, enabling the engine to shut down for up to 40 seconds when cruising at speeds between 34- and 99mph.

On-road refinement is impressive; it offers little in the way of driving appeal, but if it’s a relaxing drive that you’re after, the new A8 delivers in spades. When legislation regarding autonomous driving passes, the A8’s much-touted ‘Level 3’ capability should make the motorway commute even less taxing. A great spearhead for what’s coming soon elsewhere.

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