At the very top of the sedan food chain are the rare few who define the industry. These are the cars from which features will eventually trickle down: futuristic additions make their debut in the most luxurious sedans on the market. Among this exclusive number is the 2019 Audi A8, which brings a host of new technology for a ground-up redesign. It sets a bright new benchmark for autonomy, safety, and sophistication.
What's New for 2019
The Audi A8 is all-new for 2019.
Choosing Your Audi A8
At launch, the 2019 A8 will arrive in a single engine and trim level, starting at $84,795 (including the $995 destination charge). The heart is a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 engine producing 335 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. The engine is assisted by what Audi calls a "mild" hybrid system, which adds a small electric boost to smooth out power delivery, aid efficiency, and power the A8's many gadgets. A V8 engine will be available in the summer of 2019.
All-wheel drive is standard, as is an eight-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy hasn't been released yet, but expect it to at least match the previous generation's 19 miles per gallon city, 29 mpg highway, and 22 combined.
Front and center in the cockpit are two stacked touchscreens. The upper screen, measuring 10.3 inches, controls traditional infotainment functions. The lower 8.6-inch screen controls HVAC and seating settings and allows considerable customization. The sole remaining knob is the one for volume. Audi prides itself on its technology integration, which means that smartphone connectivity and control are more complete than ever.
The rest of the car doesn't lose out on luxury either. Leather surfaces are standard, as are powered soft-closing doors, power sunshades, wood and aluminum inlays, a panoramic sunroof, heated front seats, four-zone climate control, and neat motorized vent shutters. Equally impressive is the safety technology, which begins with Audi's usual suite of active features and runs up to near autonomy.
To get most of it, though, buyers need to dive into the package selections. Take a deep breath here, because what the A8 lacks in trims it makes up for in feature bundles.
The packages start off simple with the Cold Weather Package ($800), which heats up the rear seats, the front dash surfaces, and the steering wheel, and adds adaptive wipers for good measure. The Executive Package ($4,150) is where the fun begins, adding a phone box, top-view camera, surround-view parking system, head-up display, rear cross-traffic alert, and a new safety feature that warns you before opening your door if a bike is approaching. Acoustic glass, ventilated massaging 22-way front seats, and a heated steering wheel round out the package.
For a more plush interior, the Luxury Package ($4,250) includes ambient lighting, even more leather-covered surfaces, Valcona leather, Alcantara headliner, aluminum buttons, an air ionizer, and an in-car fragrance system. Alternatively, the Full Leather Package ($4,500) covers every conceivable surface in cow skin with decorative stitching. For the exterior, packages include either a Lighting Package ($3,400), which upgrades the LED head- and taillights, or 20-inch spoke alloy rims with all-season tires ($1,200).
For passengers who like to conduct their business in the rear, kingly levels of luxury are available. The Executive Rear Seat Comfort Package ($7,550) adds heated rear seats, a full-length rear console with folding tables, ventilated massage rear seats, a smart rear touchscreen remote control, matrix LED reading lights, rear footrests, and a passenger-side seat with a foot-massager tucked into the back of the front seat. The Rear Seat Comfort Package ($3,500) picks a few of those features while still allowing seating for five, adding just the upgraded seats, the reading lights, and the remote control.
For the tech-focused passenger, the Rear Seat Connectivity Package ($3,250) includes a dual tablet entertainment system, a rear DVD changer, rear USB music interface, and a power outlet. The Driver Assistance Package ($2,750) adds the rest of Audi's driving and safety technology, including adaptive cruise control with autonomous features, active lane assist, traffic sign recognition, and an intersection accident prevention system.
The final new safety feature is a standalone option, a night-vision and pedestrian detection system for $2,300. Other notable options include a four-service bundle of Audi Care ($1,179) and a Bang & Olufsen sound system with a staggering 23 speakers ($5,900). Alcantara or cloth headliner are no-cost options.
The new 2019 Audi A8 can be optioned up to a palace on wheels, but the price will soar well north of $100,000. If it were us, we'd stick to getting the best of the technology in the Executive and Driver Assistance Packages.