Audi launches revamped self-driving Audi A8

The updated A8, the first vehicle styled from scratch by Audi’s new design chief Marc Lichte, features voice controls and an electric powertrain, and can drive autonomously in slow-moving traffic. Appearing in the latest Spiderman blockbuster, the car has sharper lines all around to make it more muscular, and a wider front grille.

There’s no more rotary switch or touchpad for controlling the A8′s infotainment system. A 10.1-inch touchscreen will be the main interface for the driver, followed by voice commands. Haptic buttons couple with a second smaller LCD display in the center console to complete the switchgear. The new A8 is larger inside and out than the model it replaces. The long-wheelbase A8L gets an optional “relaxation seat,” with heating, cooling, and massaging for the body and the feet.

Five engines will eventually be available in Audi’s home market of Germany. Two 3.0-liter V6 engines – one gas and one diesel – will be optional at production time. The gas version puts out 340 horsepower. A gasoline-fed V8 will follow shortly thereafter with 460 horsepower, and a range-topping W12 will eventually be available with 585 horses. A belt alternator starter system is standard across the line. Later, an A8 L e-tron Quattro plug-in hybrid will hit the road with 449 total horsepower, 31.1 miles of electric range and a cool inductive wireless charging system.

The revamp is part of Audi’s strategy through 2025 to focus on adding all-electric cars to its lineup, boosting digital services and adding autonomous driving options. The manufacturer is gearing up to roll out key models including its first full-size sport utility vehicle Q8 and the first all-electric vehicle dubbed E-Tron in coming years, cars that will determine if Audi can regain lost sales ground to Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

Audi Chief Executive Officer Rupert Stadler, under fire for the luxury-car maker’s role in parent Volkswagen AG’s emissions scandal, is counting on the revamped A8 and other new models to appease his critics.

Unveiling the latest version of the $96,000 flagship sedan in Barcelona — surrounded by spinning cars and flashing lights — the CEO only hinted briefly at his mounting troubles as he described the new A8’s self-driving prowess and Audi’s upcoming lineup of SUVs and electric autos.

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