The A8, Audi’s flagship, the brand’s true technology showcase, is in a delicate situation. While its main rivals have already switched to electricity (the Mercedes EQS) or are about to do so (the BMW i7), the firm of the four rings presents a new version that conforms to a PHEV hybrid engine ( rechargeable). This upgrade, also called restyling, in the medium term, makes few aesthetic changes to focus on one crucial point: the engine. But can an excellent hybrid engine cope with rivals that have already climbed into the electric car? In this segment, limousines over 100,000 euros, is not this “delay” prohibitive? That’s what we wanted to know when we got behind the wheel of the new A8.
Inside, the owner’s journey will be even more concise, as there is simply no evolution. The cabin, right true, is the same as in the previous version. It is true that the three-screen system has not aged a bit, but in the elitist world of limousines, it could fade compared to the Hyperscreen offered by Mercedes.
If the firm has the star has set the bar especially high, the truth is that the cabin of the A8 is a model of this nature, with a clean design and well-studied ergonomics. In addition, it remains one of the most ambitious in terms of technology.
If the dashboard remains unchanged, this is not the case for rear seats that gain a new display. It may be anecdotal, but it is not. And for good reason, users / owners of these A8s are more often seated in the back than in the front. That is, these luxury vehicles for business leaders and other ministerial offices (Angela Merkel’s last company car was the previous A8), are usually driven by drivers, leaving their privileged owners to enjoy the comfort in the back.
Therefore, they will have plenty of time to have two 10-inch screens, Full HD, but mostly separate. In fact, the front and front screens were previously linked, so it was not possible to view different content. In this new version, each passenger is not only free to enjoy their content, but can also stream whatever they want through their smartphone via CarPlay, Android Auto or more commonly the HDMI port on their laptop.
Luxury and comfort: a double goal
You can easily understand, the A8 is not a vehicle by traditional standards. Nor is it a car that is judged by the same criteria as a family member. Just seeing all the care given to the rear seats is emblematic of a very specific car class. But what is certain, both front and rear, is that the key word on board is twofold: luxury and comfort. Whether it’s the choice of materials, the quality of the audio system, the comfort of the seats, the many options that abound (heating, cooling, massage, entertainment) and the individualization of all these options, the A8 is presented as an assumed model of elitism. While most of the user experience is behind it, this convenience is also in the driving part.
Driving to the millimeter, comfort in the square
For our test, we opted for the version that will probably be the best-selling in France (90% of estimated sales), ie the TFSIe PHEV, translates a 6-cylinder coupled to an electric motor in a rechargeable hybrid.
This engine develops about 462 hp, which is a good total to catch the 2.7 tons of the beast. In fact, and this is certainly the most amazing thing, this excessive weight is not really noticeable when driving. Of course, engine power contributes, but not only. The chassis, the quality of the suspensions and the assistance systems play their role to the fullest. At this point, the new A8 has more or less the same advantages as the previous version and, in short, a proven know-how. Driving, whether flexible or more nervous, is always extremely easy. Driving aids (level two range) allow you to partially entrust the piloting of the A8 to the on-board computer with confidence, either for adaptive cruise control or for lane maintenance. Finally, the lighting system is one of the strengths of the A8 as its optics project on the ground a real light corridor that helps the driver to better understand their trajectories while preserving the visibility of vehicles that l ‘envelop.
Still, one small regret: we haven’t been able to test the “predictive active air suspension” system, which is a technology that is constantly exploring the road to adapt the shock absorber response: it will be reserved for the S8. For the rest, the A8 is simply a driving model.
Audi knows how to optimize your battery
The evolution of motorization is not without consequences for the autonomy of the car. At Audi, hybridization has not always been a perfectly mastered knowledge, especially in the previous version of the A8 which excessively limited the use of the battery (maximum speed of 60 km / h for example). On the new A8 (2022), the 14.4 kWh battery offers pretty decent performance. Announced for 59km range, its actual performance will obviously depend on your driving style and weather (among other things), but it easily approaches 50km. Above all, unlike the previous model, the use of the battery is totally entrusted to the good care of the driver, without any particular limitations. Audi even offers four battery management modes ranging from 100% electric to hybridization managed by the route planner to optimize battery life, through a charging mode or a 100% thermal mode.
The brand with the four rings is obviously not the first to offer this option, but it stands out in two points.
On the one hand in the automatic management according to the route. Specifically, the driver activates navigation in his vehicle and lets the A8 decide when are the best times to use the electric battery. This is based on traffic information, site topology, or route type to optimize consumption. Very handy, this mode offers remarkable performance, but it has one flaw: it prevents parallel use of CarPlay or Android Auto. In other words, forget about Waze or your traditional GPS, you’ll have to trust Audi.
The other mode that surprised us especially for its efficiency is that it allows you to recharge the electric battery thanks to the combustion engine. In this case, Audi did not invent hot water, but the management of the process is especially efficient. In fact, with most competitors offering it, this modality induces ridiculous consumption. However, not only is excessive consumption limited to the A8 (we are closer to 8L per 100 km than the usual 7L), but recharging is efficient. It takes just over 100km on the freeway to recharge almost all of your battery.
On the other hand, in terms of load, the PHEV of the brand with the four rings remains in the classic standards as it has a load capacity of 7.4 kW.
See also the video:
See also the video:
Verdict of the test:
The A8 is not a car like the others, its price is the most obvious proof of this as the less equipped version starts at 116,500 euros. As for the sports version, the S8, you will have to put your hand in your pocket to exceed the threshold of 160,000 euros, the starting point of the model. These stratospheric prices do not preclude criticism.
At the end of our test, it seems that the 2022 A8 is still the best of Audi in terms of comfort, luxury, but also versatility thanks to a hybrid now dominated. However, this development in the medium term will necessarily suffer the comparison with its great rival in Mercedes. The S-Class offers comparable comfort, but seems superior in terms of technology and equipment on board. As for driving aids, they are also more efficient with the star’s signature. Finally, Mercedes benefits from another undeniable advantage, that of being able to offer 100% electrical equivalence with the EQS. Therefore, it is possible to raise two hypotheses. Either Audi is late compared to Mercedes, or it retains most of its innovations for the electric version of its A8, which derives from the Grandsphere concept.