Audi A8

The Audi A8 has been the brand's flagship luxury sedan since its initial release in 1994. Today, the Audi A8 commands respect as one of the most finely engineered vehicles on the road. It combines expert craftsmanship with savvy interior and exterior designs that have helped it stand out from its competitors.

More on the Audi A8
Audi A8 Origins

The first generation Audi A8, in production from 1994 to 2002, did not garner quite as much attention as the latest generation. The 1994 Audi A8 stood out largely because of its all-aluminum body, which allowed the manufacturer to put a significant amount of power under the hood without making the car so heavy that it lacked fuel efficiency to compete with other sedans in its class. Despite this innovative approach to lightweight engineering, the first generation Audi A8 lacked the panache that consumers wanted for its high price tag (even though it was significantly cheaper than more outspoken luxury vehicles made by BMW and Mercedes-Benz). The car sold fairly well even though it was not introduced to the U.S. until 1997, but it prospered mostly from critical praise rather than consumer craze.

About the Audi A8

The Audi A8 is best known for introducing an all-aluminum body to luxury vehicles. When it debuted in Europe, it was the first luxury sedan to take advantage of this innovative approach to reducing weight without compromising safety or performance. The A8 also received attention for downplaying its luxuriousness with simple, elegant designs instead of trendy or flashy body styles.

Audi A8 Evolution

The second generation Audi A8, produced from 2004 to 2010, improved the style and performance of its predecessor. Audi took advantage of its lightweight, all-aluminum body by adding a V-8 engine with a transmission that gave the sedan four-wheel drive. Luxury sedans with bodies made of steel would have gotten horrible gas mileage with this arrangement. However, Audi's innovative approach to use aluminum offset the extra weight of the large engine and four-wheel drive, or quattro, so that the A8 could operate efficiently.

The 2004 model also saw stylistic changes to the interior and exterior of the Audi A8. The car remained subdued compared to other luxury vehicles in its class, but the updated version attracted more attention with its classic look and detailed interior. Audi had gained a reputation for creating some of the most elegant interiors, and the Audi A8 did not disappoint.

The second generation A8 came in two trim levels, one with a standard wheelbase and another (A8 L) with a long wheelbase. Audi also offered an A8 L W12 model, which featured a 6.0-liter, 12-cylinder engine that created 450 horsepower.

Audi made few changes to the A8 during this period. In 2009, though, it released an updated third generation that expertly combined stylistic elegance and mechanical craftsmanship. The latest generation of the A8 also comes loaded with gadgets that will please consumers who want the latest and greatest technology. Like earlier versions, the third generation Audi A8 comes in standard and A8 L trim levels. The A8 L has been distinguished as the largest luxury sedan on the road. Thanks to Audi's commitment to using an aluminum body, even the A8 L weighs less than other sedans. This allows it to take advantage of tremendous power without forcing drivers to stop frequently for gas. Instead, they can enjoy the improved performance while treating their A8 L just like any other sedan. Of course, it's not just any sedan.

Audi really committed itself to including the latest technology in the third generation A8. Some of the highlights include automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and a dynamic steering system that can intuitively counter-steer whenever the vehicle enters a slide. Of course, Audi's innovative Multi Media Interface is also included in the third generation A8. The MMI makes it easy for a driver to use all of the A8's electronic devices without removing his or her eyes from the road. The latest A8 model even includes a touchpad interface that lets drivers interact with the MMI at the touch of a finger. It even comes with exclusive access to Google Earth, which makes navigation a breeze whether you're driving in the city or in sparsely populated areas.

The Audi A8 still looks less overtly luxurious than many of its competitors, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Rather than looking ostentatious, it maintains an elegant style that looks good in any environment.

Although the first generation Audi A8 introduced some technological innovations, it lacked the power and elegance of later generations. Each new model has made improvements from former versions, making those manufactured in later years more tech-savvy and attractive than those made in the 1990s. Still, early generation A8s set the path for new luxury sedans.

Modern Audi A8s

The 2012 Audi A8 continues the model's tradition of combining innovative technology with stylistic craftsmanship. The 2012 A8 offers all the power that drivers will need on the road. The updated MMI makes it even easier for drivers to take advantage of the latest gadgets. They can control temperature, music, and navigation settings without removing their hands from the wheel.

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