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by Tim Beissmann

Audi has today revealed its new A8 sedan, showcasing a more fuel-efficient, technologically advanced, safer and stylistically sharper luxury limousine.

Two new 4.2-litre V8s headline the upgrades, with efficiency taking priority over power.

Outputs from the petrol unit are up modestly from 257kW/440Nm to 273kW/445Nm, but fuel use is down from 10.9 to 9.5 litres/100km – a reduction of almost 13 per cent.

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Figures from the diesel are more impressive, with torque up 150Nm to 800 and efficiency gains of around 19 per cent, with fuel consumption down from 9.4 to 7.6 litres/100km.

Audi claims that six per cent of the economy gains can be attributed to the new shift-by-wire eight-speed automatic transmission, a big step up from the outgoing model’s six-speed unit.

Despite the new A8 growing in every direction to now be larger than its competitors, weight is down 30kg thanks to its aluminium space frame structure.

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The list of safety features is a long one headlined by the addition of Audi’s ‘Pre-sense’ system which is designed to monitor traffic and either avoid or prepare the car for a crash.

Braking Guard can alert the driver to critical situations with a loud warning sound and then autonomously apply the brakes, while Pre-safe prepares the A8 for impact by closing the sunroof and windows, adjusting the seats and pulling slack out of the seatbelts.

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Other safety features include adaptive cruise control and infrared night-vision with pedestrian-detection which projects on a 7-inch display screen on the instrument panel.

The trademark Audi LED pixie-lights now accompany clever xenon headlamps which are linked to both a camera and a computer.

The lights automatically adjust when the car detects different road conditions like highways, corners or oncoming cars and adapt by intensifying, dimming or broadening to suit the driver’s needs.

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New onboard entertainment includes a digital TV and radio which is able to be enjoyed through no less than 19 speakers and two amplifiers.

And the Multi Media Interface is perhaps the most fun gadget of the lot.

It works like a touchpad on a laptop computer, allowing you to navigate through the all the maps, radio functions and other menus, understanding the symbols and characters you draw for a unique and (hopefully) more user-friendly experience.

Audi describes the visual changes as more evolutionary than revolutionary.

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Sharper taillights and lines at the rear are similar to those of the A4, but overall the A8 maintains the curves and flowing design of the outgoing model.

Full pricing details will be revealed closer to the A8’s 2010 release.




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