2019 Audi A8 L Review

by Lawana Perkins | Posted on Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

Remember that unassuming guy from high school who turned out to be weirdly and completely brilliant once you got to know him? You would have never guessed that beneath his quiet façade were valedictorian smarts and presidential ambition. The 2019 Audi A8L is that guy.

2019 Audi A8 L

Back when Audi was scheming on how to steal would-be BMW 7 Series, Lexus LS and Mercedes-Benz S-Class buyers with their next-gen A8, they threw everything they knew (and a few things they didn’t) at future-proofing their flagship sedan. First and foremost, the big four-door was intended to be the world’s first production Level 3 autonomous vehicle. Using an arsenal of visualizing aids — a long-range radar, a front camera, four mid-range radars, several 360-degree cameras, up to 12 ultrasound sensors, and the world’s first-ever laser scanner — the A8 is capable of creating a three-dimensional map of its immediate surrounds and “look” up to 328 feet ahead.

The good news? The system is intuitive and easy to use, with thoughtful details like small, dedicated touch-sensitive sliders that enable you to open and control the airflow of HVAC vents that are elegantly hidden behind swiveling veneer doors. That feature is a relief, as the Porsche Panamera’s similar interface is so extremely de-cluttered that the direction of the air vents can’t be changed without delving into an electronic menu.

While adjustable drive mode settings change the drivetrain, suspension and steering settings, don’t expect the A8 to transform into an R8 at the touch of a button: the changes are subtle, with an overall bias towards smoothness and comfort over outright performance. There’s decent power on tap, but passing slow-moving rental cars along Highway 1 requires some planning; don’t expect explosive forward motion, but rather a linear escalation of speed and nearly imperceptible gear changes.

Back-to-back drives on a closed autocross course revealed a dramatic difference: The A8 with the four-wheel steering switched off felt big and sometimes unwieldy, and unable to make one tight corner without a three-point turn. With four-wheel steering switched on by an engineer in the passenger seat, not only did the A8 turn more sharply and easily, it exhibited better body control during an abrupt lane change and didn’t require a three-point turn to execute the tight corner. The four-wheel system reduces the turning radius by 3.6 feet, shrinking it to a turning circle smaller than an A4’s.

Audi’s new A8 L takes a quantum leap forward and puts its competitors on edge, shaking up a competitive segment with technology and features that will eventually trickle down to lesser vehicles.


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