California Autos Examiner

Saturday, January 02, 2010

2011 Audi A8: Top of the line model gets a new look

2011 Audi A8 (courtesy: Audi)

Compare the 2011 model to this 2009 Audi A8L
Audi's aluminum masterpiece received its fair share of attention when it was officially revealed at Design Miami 2009.

When examining the full suite of images provided by  Audi, shown in this linked slideshow, the changes the 2011 Audi A8 has received are subtle but tighten its design up nicely.

The A8 continues its extensive use of aluminum, which saves weight and is very strong but also tends to drive insurance companies nuts due high costs when repairing crash damage (that is not to say that the 2011 A8 will have higher rates than competitive models).  In the A8's case,  the Audi Space Frame weighs about 40 percent less than a comparable steel structure.

The A8 launches with a 4.2 liter V8 engine that sports 372 hp (up from 350 hp), 328 lb-ft torque (up from 325 lb-ft torque) and mated to an 8-speed transmission which all contribute to an estimated 15% improvement in fuel economy.  Look for more engine options to be announced by Audi at a later date as well as the introduction of the long wheelbase model.

When it comes to technology, the A8 is packed full of the latest gear.  For example, full LED headlights are available, something that is very rare in the automotive business.  These new LED headlights benefit the driver and oncoming traffic as they do not have the objectionable bluish tint that tends to send older drivers into conniptions whenever they encounter them in oncoming traffic.  That does not mean that LED headlights will be annoyance free.  Because the new LED units will allow unique packaging, some drivers will undoubtedly be tricked into thinking they are high beams.  Motor Trend did a nice comparison of LED vs. HID vs. halogen headlights, you can check out their article here.

Another A8 feature in the "trick" category is the navigation system's touchpad that allows the driver to "write" a destination address on the pad with their finger, a welcome feature that I look forward to testing.  The navigation system can also network with other modules in the car, for example it can communicate with the automatic transmission and the headlights.  Nifty.  The list of features in the A8 go on and on, in fact Audi has prepared a quick reference guide to recount the 2011 model's innovations and you can find it in this link.

The 2011 Audi A8 will hit U.S. dealer lots in late 2010 and will likely be priced very close to the current model which starts at $75,000.

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