July 13, 2002 - Audi has released the first official photos of the new A8, which will have it's public debut at the Paris Motor Show in September. With the new A8, Audi seeks "to redefine the notion of sports appeal in the luxury segment, with compelling handling, pioneering technology and exclusive design and equipment." As the brand's flagship model, it uncompromisingly demonstrates the identity of the next generation of Audi models.
There were four priority areas in the development of the new Audi A8: design, lightweight construction, dynamism and electronics. These four areas were linked by a single idea: the idea of ease. In other words, ease in the sense of design harmony, ease of acceleration, the ease with which it can be handled - the driver of an A8 should not have the impression of handling a large saloon car - and, finally, ease of operation.
Its design gives visual expression to the unique character of the new A8. Expansive, strikingly arched surfaces are framed by precisely plotted lines. The bodyside theme continues the clean, controlled surfaces seen on the A6, but with more muscular proportions. A deep bevel to the lower door surfaces, together with a sharply defined rocker section adds interest to the bodyside, and seeks to give the car a lighter and more dynamic appearance. This theme is continued around the vehicle, with similar forms on the front and rear bumpers. The silhouette of flat front and short body overhangs hint at the cars dynamic potential.
Two V8 engines, a 4.2 litre version with an output of 246 kW (335 bhp) and a 3.7 litre version developing 206 kW (280 bhp), will be available at the market launch in autumn 2002. One new feature in the A8 is the 6-speed automatic transmission with tiptronic function, which constantly assures an optimum transition between the various speed stages. As an option, it is also possible to change gear via shift paddles mounted on the steering wheel; the ergonomic advantages of this concept have already been demonstrated on Audi's R8 Le Mans race car.
The A8's aluminium body is built using the Audi Space Frame (ASF). Quattro permanent four-wheel drive remains unequalled in the luxury segment. It translates engine performance into superbly effective propulsion and lateral support.
The air suspension for the new A8's aluminium running gear provides an optimum characteristic in every driving situation: By means of the continuously variable damper settings, the adaptive air suspension reduces body movements, while optimising roadholding and ride comfort. The driver can choose between three predefined settings, for a suspension characteristic ranging from overtly sporty to ultra-comfortable.
In the luxurious interior, the driver will find an innovative approach to interacting with the vehicle's technology and its communication systems, in the guise of the Multi Media Interface (MMI). Ingenious ergonomics and an intrinsically logical and therefore self-evident operating concept make this car uniquely easy to operate, allowing the driver to concentrate on the traffic.
When it's predecessor was launched in 1994, the A8 was the first production saloon to have an aluminium body. The low weight of the ASF Audi Space Frame brought a significant gain in operating dynamics, while reversing the upward spiral of body weight. At the same time, Audi set a new benchmark for dynamic handling in the luxury car class thanks to its quattro drive.
Such characteristics and such a success story set a very high standard for its successor, which sets out with the clear objective of building on its predecessor's strengths and doing things even better in the areas in which the previous model excelled.
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