The interior of the new Audi A8 is a wellness lounge for the senses. With its generous spaciousness, clear, elegant styling and uncompromising, craftsman-like fit and finish, the interior is deeply rooted in the philosophy of the four rings brand. In the cut it is wider, airier and more open than its predecessor – a new lightness that manifests in numbers but much more so when experienced. Audi has once again set new standards in the luxury class when it comes to interior design, ergonomics and equipment.
The salient element is the “wrap-around” – a wide arch spanning the entire cabin. It integrates both the rear shelf and the instrument panel. The “wrap-around” forms an elegant beltline as on a yacht, putting the crowning touch on the concept of sinewy taut and wedge-shaped lines.
The large curve integrates the unusually sleek and low instrument panel. It begins well below the base of the windshield and angles slightly downward toward the seats. Although the seats in the new A8 are mounted sportily low, most drivers can see the entire hood thanks to the low front end for an impression of expanse and freedom. The cockpit comes standard covered with a softly padded synthetic leather material elegantly framed with precise, visible stitchwork.
The front of the instrument panel is shaped like a gentle wave flowing around the driver and the front seat passenger; its pronounced horizontal line underscores its width. It is animated, clean and lean. The trapezoid air intakes accentuate the new emotional design philosophy, as do the sinewy taut arch and wedge-shaped lines in the door panels.
The Audi brand’s clear and intuitive operating philosophy is one of its classic strengths and reaches new heights in the A8. All important functions remained in their familiar places: the headlight controller is on the left; the switch for the emergency flashers in the middle. This switch is flanked by a strip of secondary buttons, at the center of which is a high-quality analog clock with a black face. Located below the strip of buttons and behind a cover are the slots for the DVD player and the memory cards.
Zero at six o’clock: the instruments
The instrument cluster includes two large dials for engine speed and driving speed. Their red needles point to six o’clock when in the zero position and run up and fall back down when the car is started for a sporty look. With their black markings and clear, classic graphics, the instruments can be easily read at a glance, as can the kidney-shaped displays for the coolant temperature and fuel level at their edges.
The standard driver information system (DIS), which serves as a fully fledged control center, has a new layout. The high-resolution display located in the center of the driver’s field of view between the instrument dials grew 40 percent from 5 to 7 inches (diagonal). It consolidates and visualizes the numerous functions of the new A8 according to an easy-to-understand concept.
Temporary warnings and hints are displayed in the header. The main menu bar with tabs for vehicle functions, audio, telephone and navigation is permanently displayed here. The topic selected by the driver appears in the large field below. The status line at the bottom of the display shows the time, the outside temperature, the gear selected and the odometer reading.
Operation of the FIS via the standard leather multifunction steering wheel also features new solutions. As before, two buttons and two press-and-turn roller controls are located in each spoke. The control fields are supplemented by two paddles delicately framed in chrome. The typical Audi levers for the turn signals/high beams, cruise control and windshield wipers are located behind the wheel.
The new Audi A8 will be available at launch with a four-spoke, leather-wrapped steering wheel standard or with an optional three-spoke sports steering wheel. Both have become smaller in diameter and sportier. They each weigh 3 kilograms (6.61 lb), of which the airbag accounts for roughly half. The steering wheel skeleton is cast from ultra-lightweight magnesium.
Highly precise, power tilt (50 millimeters (1.97 in)) and telescope (60 millimeters (2.36 in)) adjustment is standard and combined with an easy entry function where the steering wheel withdraws from the driver so that he or she can exit the vehicle. Every A8 also comes equipped with shift paddles for the eight-speed tiptronic. Mounted directly behind the spokes, the ergonomics are perfect. The left paddle shifts down; the right paddle shifts up. Options include a leather cover for the airbag cover, a heater for the ring and fine wood inlays. The engine is started using the standard start-stop button; the key can stay in your pocket.
Control and information center: the MMI
The console on the center tunnel is clearly separated from the instrument panel visually and forms its own volume. Wide-cut and slightly inclined, it is an ergonomically perfect control panel with clearly delimited work areas. The new selector lever for the eight-speed tiptronic and the button for the electromechanical parking brake are located in the horizontal rear area. The control panel for the automatic climate control system and the terminal for the MMI operating and multimedia system are located on the inclined portion.
Since its debut in 2002, the Multi Media Interface from Audi has distinguished itself as the best user interface in its class. The new A8 features the next-generation MMI, whose development was shaped by numerous studies and analyzes with customers from different parts of the world.
When inactive, the onboard monitor is retracted into the instrument panel, with only its top edge visible as a delicate trim strip. Switched on, it moves upwards in an elegant curve, nicely setting the scene for the system start. The large monitor with its eight-inch diagonal is extremely flat, and its frame gleams with black lacquer and solid aluminum.
Similar to the FIS monitor, the screen is divided into three sections. Two horizontal information strips include a large display area that presents the topic selected in vivid, elegant graphics. A new and intuitive logic has the important topic areas arranged around the main menu. Many A8 customers will familiarize themselves with the MMI through play because it is so fun to use, such as when it presents the cover of an audio CD on the monitor.
Haptic landscape: the control terminal
The control terminal features a clearly organized haptic landscape. To the left and right of the central rotary pushbutton are four soft keys used to navigate through the menus. The four adjacent hard keys control the following areas: vehicle settings, navigation, telephone and information. They are supplemented by a menu button and a back button. Audio is controlled via a separate block with five buttons and a dial for the volume. Added to this are six fixed radio station buttons. In the MMI navigation plus version, these are a virtual touch surface called the MMI touch.
A8 drivers can remain very relaxed while operating the MMI terminal. Asymmetrically located on the center tunnel, the selector lever of the eight-speed tiptronic is the ideal resting place for the driver’s right wrist so that the hand can easily press and turn switches.
The A8 also raises the bar in the luxury class with respect to the quality of workmanship, another domain of Audi. The materials, their look, their haptics and the tight, precise tolerances between the components are the factors that create the overall impression through their harmonious interaction.
To achieve this fine feeling of craftsmanship, the designers chose the combination of top-quality materials. The air nozzles, for example, are partly chrome plated. The backs of the comfort seats have sickle-shaped inlays of fine wood framed in subtle chrome strips. Aluminum surfaces for the important controls are available as an option. They feel authentically cool to the touch – a pleasure for the fingertips and a demonstration of the incredible attention that Audi dedicates to each and every detail. The start-stop button is one of these tiny works of art – it is lighted from within and the letters have been machined out of the metal with the utmost precision.
The attention that Audi devotes to all of the details in the A8 includes the wood veneers. The grains on all parts of the interior harmonize, the edges are hand-finished again after they have been machine-ground. All leather seams are impressively accurate – straight, even and parallel. The cover on the steering wheel is hand-stitched.
Precisely designed: operating forces and sounds
All of the switches move easily and without play. Their fine, quiet click is the sound of technical perfection, as is the rich, dark sound as the doors fall shut. The developers of the new A8 accurately defined all of the sounds as well as the required operating travel and forces to harmoniously round out the overall experience of the interior. Gaps – the be-all and end-all at Audi – are even and narrow. In many areas they are only as wide as necessary for the thermal expansion of the materials and not a tenth of a millimeter more.
Countless control elements in the interior of the A8 are finished in high-gloss black. Heavily used components are coated with a novel, UV-cured topcoat that makes them extremely resistant to scratching. A high-end coating called Cerapaint protects the aluminum doorsill trims. Less than two thousandths of a millimeter thick, it offers excellent protection against damage, repels dirt and is easy to clean.
Similar to its predecessor, the new A8 has two-piece inlays on the front of the instrument panel and in the upper section of the doors – a very elegant solution. The bottom elements come in high-gloss piano finish black, the top ones in flawless and deeply lustrous walnut, while the whole is accentuated by slim chrome strips.
Audi offers optional decorative inlays in brushed aluminum or fine woods – gray vavona, which comes from the West Coast of North America, beige fine grain birch or brown fine grain ash. A special highlight is the open-pored natural wood with the name fine grain ash balsamico brown – it feels every so slightly rough when you run your fingertips across it.
Subtle elegance: colors and materials
Audi offers the interior of the new A8 in five basic colors: black, nougat brown, velvet beige, titanium gray, and silk beige. The upper section of the instrument panel as well as its surroundings and the top shoulders are also available in steel gray or moor brown. The headlining is available in lunar silver, velvet beige, silk beige and black.
There is also a premium selection of seat coverings from which to choose. The standard seats are covered in cloth, with Valcona leather available as an option. This same grade of leather is also available as an option for the comfort seats. An alternative is natural Fine Nappa leather, which is particularly soft and breathable and has a fascinatingly authentic surface structure. The sports-look comfort seats feature quilted and perforated seat coverings, which Audi also offers as a combination of leather and Alcantara.
Another highlight is the naturally tanned and amazingly soft buckskin Nappa leather. It will later be available on the headrests, the gear selector lever and the center arm rest. The leather program offers a choice of seven colors: black, nougat brown, velvet beige, titanium gray, silk beige, mocca braun/balao brown and granite gray/brass beige.
Audi has established a special interior design world for fans of the unique. The Audi design selection balao brown combines the exclusive brown interior color with special applications, such as contrasting white seams, a white headlining and inlays in open-pored ash and silver aluminum.
An array of premium extras rounds out the offer, including the four-zone automatic climate control system, the comfort seats, the ambient lighting package and electric sun shades.
As is typical for Audi, a number of leather packages are available for the new A8. Customers can choose Fine Nappa leather in one of three different configurations. In the highest trim level, the Advanced leather package, the “wrap-around” is also embellished with leather. A supplemental Alcantara package includes the headlining, the pillars and the rear shelf.
Also available is an extended aluminum finish interior trim package, in which various components in the doors and on the instrument panel are adorned with chrome or aluminum – some brushed, and some polished. A stainless steel strip covers the loading lip of the trunk. A number of additional suggestions for leather and wood applications are included in the Audi exclusive program.
Highly emotional: the ambient lighting
At dark another high-end feature comes into play – the newly designed ambient lighting. Produced by light emitting diodes and controlled by complex electronics, the ambient lighting turns on when the A8 is unlocked remotely. Beginning at the driver's seat, it spreads through the cabin like a wave. As soon as a door is opened, it focuses on that area.
The ambient lighting is available in two versions. With the standard version, white LEDs in the headlining, in the footwells, and the door handles set subtly shining accents, with the strips of light between the grab handles in the headlining making a particularly premium impression. LEDs are also used for the reading lights and vanity lights as well as for the door lights. The lights comes across differently depending on where it is used – flat, cool, or warm, plastic or focused.
The ambient light package – an emotional overall orchestration – is also available as an option for the A8. With this package, LEDs also illuminate the tunnel, the door pockets, and the door sill strips; the center console appears to float in the effective lighting. Light guides are installed in the doors; light strips are installed in the headlining. Many of these LEDs are two-colored or three-colored – the driver can use the MMI to choose between the color schemes ivory, polar, or ruby/polar, and adjust the brightness in four zones separately or as a whole.
Three climatic styles and up to four zones: the deluxe automatic climate control system
Among the many sophisticated solutions in the A8 is the automatic climate control system. Its control unit is typical Audi – simultaneously functional, intelligent and elegantly designed – with rotary dials that turn precisely and click into place, with red and blue LEDs and a display for the temperature. All changes to the settings are displayed on the MMI monitor.
The automatic climate control system cools, heats and ventilates the cabin in two zones, and optionally in four. Three climatic styles are also available – gentle, medium and strong – which change not only the fan speed, but also the type of air flow. An optional fourth variant for the cold time of year provides particularly intense heating of the footwell. Other nuances can be configured under the MMI “Vehicle settings” menu.
The system considers the position of the sun, uses moisture sensors to prevent condensation on the windows and enables virtually draft-free indirect ventilation through a screen on the top of the instrument panel. A residual heat function uses engine heat to keep the cabin warm while the A8 is parked, and an air quality sensor closes the recirculation flap when it detects pollutants in the outside air.
The automatic climate control system’s ventilation module is extremely quiet thanks to low-vibration housings, elastic bearings and optimized fans. It is also extremely efficient. Its central component is an internal coaxial heat exchanger that combines low energy consumption with high cooling performance.
Systematic lightweight construction reduced the weight of the base version of the climate control system by more than 10 percent compared to the previous model. The full version of the system uses 25 servo motors.
Audi will also install a particularly easy-to-use auxiliary heating system as an option. The driver enters the time at which he or she wishes to leave and the system takes care of the rest based on the outside temperature. Two sunroofs are available for the A8 – a glass sunroof and a solar sunroof. The electricity it produces is used to regulate the cabin temperature when the car is parked.
First-class comfort: the front seats
Just getting in is comfortably spacious; the sound of the door falling closed inspires confidence. Sitting down makes the luxurious nature of the new A8 all the more apparent. The newly developed seats offer first-class comfort. They provide your body with perfect hold and guidance; the offset upper section of the seatback provides outstanding support for the shoulders. Their classy appearance underscores the cultivated look of the A8 interior.
The standard seats are power-adjustable in 12 ways – the length, the height and inclination of the seat cushion, the inclination of the backrest and two parameters for the lumbar support. Audi also offers an optional three-stage seat heating system with memory function coupled with the electrical adjustment of the headrests and belt height.
The comfort seats offer even more luxury – 22 parameters can be adjusted to ideally match the seat to your body. The inclination of the head of the backrest, the depth of the seat cushion, the inclination and height of the headrest – which is equipped with side bolsters that can also be adjusted – and the width of the seat and the backrest can all be finely adjusted here. Like the four-way lumbar support, this latter function is pneumatic. The memory function is standard. Audi also offers optional comfort seats with a sporty look and top-stitched diamond patterns.
In addition to heating, there is also an option for three-stage ventilation using four small extraction fans. Another luxurious extra is the pneumatic massage function provided by no less than ten air chambers in the backrest. The driver and front seat passenger can choose from five different programs with varying intensities and target areas. One of them massages the entire back, and one focuses on the shoulder area.
Audi has greatly reduced the number of switches for adjusting the seats. All primary adjustments continue to be made using intuitive switches on the side of the console that mirror the shape of the seat. A separate multifunction switch with a rotary ring and four buttons controls the secondary functions, such as the side bolsters or the massage function. Each step is visualized in high resolution on the large MMI monitor.
The Audi philosophy of luxurious travel also includes a generous supply of storage space. Two large compartments are located in the doors. The upper one has a cover and can hold a small umbrella; the open compartment at the bottom can hold a large bottle.
Another storage compartment ideal for a mobile phone or an iPod is located in the center arm rest. The position of the armrest can move with the seat as an option. In the standard configuration, its length and height can be adjusted. A luxury version with two separate compartments is available as an option. A large glove box, two compartments for (sun)glasses, a parking ticket clip, a net in the front passenger footwell and two cupholders round out the list of storage options.
The ultimate in luxury: the rear seats
As a large, luxurious touring sedan the A8 also treats its rear passengers on the highest of levels. There is abundant space here – the sedan has added 48 millimeters (1.89 in) of wheelbase compared to its predecessor, and it offers best-in-class rear headroom. A power-adjustable rear seat is available as an option.
The outer rear seats can be adjusted in a variety of ways – length, inclination of the backrest, the angle of the upper backrest, the height of the headrests, and the lumbar support. A memory function is included, as is the means to adjust the front passenger seat from the back. Seat heating, electric blinds on the side windows, and the four-zone automatic air conditioning system round out the package. Audi also offers a ventilation and massage feature with a choice of two programs.
The rear seat passengers enjoy superior climate comfort. Outlets in the footwell, at the end of the center tunnel, and in the B-pillar linings provide them with air driven by a newly developed distributor with integrated fan. The four-zone automatic climate control system has a separate air conditioner that individually regulates the temperature of the air and distributes it. Its control panel is integrated into the folding center armrest – together with the adjustment controls for the seats, the armrest turns into a luxurious command center.
Audi also provides ample storage in the back. The center arm rest has a compartment and two cupholders; located behind it is the optional load-through hatch to the trunk with an integrated ski bag. The doors have large pockets, and the storage compartment in the center console can accommodate a one-liter bottle.
Highly complex and smart: the network
The rear bench seat in the new Audi A8 is a high-tech component. As many as 15 control units are integrated into its rear wall. In the previous model, some of these were located in the walls of the trunk. The reason for this can be found in the layout of the highly complex onboard network – it has an H-shaped structure with the crossbar in the area of the back seats. The control units were located there to keep line lengths short.
A conventional onboard network in a large sedan comprises up to 1,500 individual wires and weighs roughly 50 kilograms (110.23 lb). In the new A8, Audi reduced its weight by 8 kilograms (17.64 lb) despite the numerous new functions. The cross-sections of all the wires were minimized, and the main battery lead is made of aluminum rather than copper.
The electronic nervous system running through the new Audi flagship is so complex that it required a new architecture. Previously developers installed data bus segments to meet the steadily increasing communication requirements of the controllers. Audi is using the Flex Ray bus system for the first time in the new Audi A8, which makes the transmission of data between the individual control units significantly faster and more reliable.
Audi has developed strict rules and exacting tests for the robust design of the new bus system – typical for the brand. FlexRay proved from the very beginning of the development period to be extremely stable; not a single car was rendered inoperable as a result of a system fault.
Wide and spacious: the trunk
The new A8 offers 510 liters (18.01 cu ft) of luggage space, 10 liters (0.35 cu ft) more than in the previous model. The trunk is also laid out much more practically. Although shorter at 91 centimeters (35.83 in); at a best-in-class 104 centimeters (40.94 in), however, it has gotten much wider. The loading lip height of 69 centimeters (27.17 in) is pleasantly low.
Four golf bags can be fitted crosswise; smaller objects are accommodated in the side compartments, which are secured by individual nets. Three lights, four spring-loaded chrome lashing eyes and high-grade piping framing the floorbed testify to the high level of quality even in the trunk. A pretensioned spring automatically swings the trunk lid upward when it is unlocked.
Audi offers an optional luggage compartment package that includes a floor net, two foldout hooks for bags, an umbrella holder and a 12 V outlet. The electric trunk lid provides added convenience; it can be opened with buttons on the lid, inside the vehicle and on the remote key fob. A button on the inside of the trunk closes it. Available accessories include a power-retractable trailer hitch, a semi-rigid trunk liner and various roof boxes.
The equipment, data and prices specified in this document refer to the model range offered in Germany. Subject to change without notice; errors and omissions excepted.