2019 Audi A8 First Drive: Resetting The Standard

– Valencia, Spain

It’s telling that the first presentation on the 2019 Audi A8 mentions horsepower not once, but quotes processing power for the onboard computers multiple times. This car is a technological powerhouse, with more features and driving aids than ever before (in fact, there are so many gadgets I’ve broken some of the coolest ones out in a separate story). Yet the Audi is also designed to be so comfy, quiet, and easy to live with that a discussion of engine specs feels, well, almost like an afterthought. As a result, the new A8 is a superlative luxury machine in every respect.

You may want to rant online that the design is evolutionary, but in person the 2019 Audi A8 is clearly all-new. Even on paper, everything has changed: It has grown by 1.5 inches in length, 0.2 inches in wheelbase, and 0.7 inches in height. It now rides upon a version of the Volkswagen Group’s MLBevo modular platform (also used for Bentley Bentayga and Porsche Panamera). Fifty-eight percent of the body is made from aluminum, with the rest made from high-strength steel, magnesium, and carbon fiber. Body rigidity has improved by 24 percent versus the old model.

Visually, the A8 is a stunner – if not the most beautiful large sedan you can find, certainly one of the most striking. Tight-radiused creases inject energy into the sheet metal, and the nose is more aggressive than ever, with the big Singleframe grille perched between the headlights. As is so en vogue, designers endeavored to make the s...