On the eve of the 2009 L.A. Auto Show, Audi is across the continent at the "Art of Progress" exhibition in Miami, with Lucy Liu presenting the new 2011 Audi A8. Our own Marty Padgett is on hand to bring us the latest, updating live from the floor of the event in the widget below.
The 2011 Audi A8 will come in two flavors, the shorter of which--dubbed "Normal Wheel Base (NWB)"--was unveiled tonight. The long wheelbase will be revealed next year.
As the fourth generation of the flagship A8 sedan, the 2011 A8 offers an all-new look and a range of updated technology including the MMI interface, adaptive air suspension, available quattro all-wheel drive, and an aluminum space frame.
Targeting the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7-Series, the Audi A8 envisions itself as a level above the Jaguar XJ and Lexus LS, due in part to its positioning as a "driver's car". The NWB version of the 2011 A8 will focus on sport driving behavior, while the LWB--long wheelbase--version will emphasize comfort and prestige while balancing sportiness.
A standard eight-speed tiptronic transmission sends power to the front or all four wheels depending on the trim, with that power provided by a pair of V-8 engines and another pair of V-6 engines--one each gasoline and diesel. It's not yet clear that the diesel engines announced at the global launch will be coming to the U.S. immediately, or at all. The gasoline 4.2-liter FSI V-8 engine rates 372 horsepower, and rockets the big sedan to 62 mph in just 5.7 seconds. Top speed is digitally limited to 155 mph.
All four engines are being touted as examples of efficiency, with high compression (12.5:1 in the V-8 FSI), variable cams, low internal friction, and special oil pumps getting the credit.
Drag is low at just 0.26 coefficient of drag, roughly equivalent to that of the Toyota Prius--quite a feat for a large luxury sedan.
Audi plans to sell at least 6,000 units of the new A8 annually, topping the figures of the previous model. That reflects Audi's target customer for the A8: the typical buyer will have a median income of about $500,000 annually, aged around 58 years old.
Growing almost two inches in wheelbase over the previous standard wheelbase A8. At 117.8 inches, the D4 2011 A8 is about 3 inches shorter in wheelbase than the new 7-Series and about 7 inches shorter than the long wheelbase-only U.S. Mercedes S-Class. Still, it's an inch longer in wheelbase than the Lexus LS and on par with all of the above in overall length and height, while being a full two inches wider than most at 76.7 inches, potentially foreboding a tight fit in the average parking space.
While Audi hasn't yet released final figures on the 2011 A8's weight, Audi does claim the car is 50 pounds lighter than the S-Class RWD and 200 pounds lighter than the AWD version; and 200-400 pounds lighter than the new BMW 7-Series RWD and AWD versions.
Lightness is a focus throughout the new A8, right down to the brakes: Audi saved 8.25 pounds per wheel with aluminum brake hats on the four-wheel discs. Wheel sizes ranging from 17 to 21 inches allow a choice of appearance or performance options, and the tires have been optimized to compromise grip, comfort and rolling resistance.
Adaptive air suspension enables the 2011 Audi A8 to adjust its demeanor to suit the road and driving style as needed. Capable of lowering the car up to 25 mm on demand, the adaptive system is also able to lift the car slightly when extra clearance is needed, for example in steep lot entry situations. Combined with this adjustable suspension is an ESP stability system with both sport and disabled modes.
A wide range of high-tech safety systems are also available, including Audi pre-sense basic, which uses data from the stability system to close windows and tension the seat belts in preparation for an accident. Also available is the stop & go system, which monitors traffic in front of the car to help provide the driver with warning of an impending collision as well as pre-loading the brake system for maximum effectiveness.
The upgraded MMI infotainment system offers a 3D-terrain model map of the surrounding environs, animted route guidance, and predictive road network monitoring to deliver the best directions possible. It also operates the 1,400 watt, 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system. A rear-seat entertainment system is available, which can read data from the 20GB internal hard disk or memory card slots, plus its own built-in DVD drive.