Category Archives: Technology

NAIAS 2018: Ram Unveils 2019 Ram 1500, Boasts Class Exclusive 12-inch Infotainment System

The pickup truck wars are entering a new battlefield with more automakers pushing to add green technology to vehicles that are already tasked with hauling big loads and offering optimum levels of passenger comfort. With the Chevrolet Silverado and the Ford F-150 either being completely overhauled or updated, The 2018 Ram and its aging hardware were on the outside looking in. RAM aims to completely reverse this with the 2019 Ram 1500 and it appears that it has a fighting chance at completely shifting the sales race on its head.

The exterior styling is not as revolutionary as many predicted, but the more evolutionary position it embraces is still a good thing. For starters, the headlights are a welcome evolution of the current generation’s units with the big rig-esque motif still visually intact. The 2019 Ram 1500 will have two different headlight designs for buyers to choose from with lower trims getting standard halogen units that largely look similar to what we have now. Top tier Rams get all new LED lighting elements that are noticeably slimmer, but without losing the wideness that buyers love. The taillights are a tasteful evolution of the current units, and they certainly look great at least to our eyes.

The biggest change that many buyers will notice is the lack of a crosshair style front grille. The crosshair motif has been around in one shape or form since the middle half of the 1990’s with the look being the last remaining remnant of its past association with Dodge (who still uses the crosshair grille.) The new grille is emblazoned with the RAM nameplate, and while the look will certainly be popular with some buyers, we suspect Mopar and the aftermarket will have T-shaped grilles available for those that prefer to live in nostalgia. Another minor change is the elimination of the drop fender, which has been lifted upwards for this new iteration of Ram in an attempt to add more refinement to the truck.

In addition to these key changes, RAM engineers also put the truck on a major crash diet removing 225 lbs of flab from the Ram’s flanks. Strategic uses of aluminium also help contribute to the weight loss with the tailgate alone cutting 15 lbs, and the lighter frame cutting an additional 98 lbs. Despite the insertions of aluminium at select points, the 2019 Ram is not taking the plunge and following the F-150 into all aluminium bodywork for the immediate future. Look for this to please commercial buyers that want to save money in the event that their truck gets banged up on the job especially since aluminum requires specialized tools and training to service properly.

The interior of the 2019 Ram also sees its fair share of updates with engineers building upon the relatively upscale layout that was left by the previous generation 1500. The buttons and switch gear (a persistent weakness in many Chrysler offerings) have been replaced with more stylish units, while material quality overall has seen an enormous jump especially in higher grade RAM models. For instance in the Limited model we spent time in, designers added more metal trim, as well as better looking leather and wood accents. Storage solutions are also plentiful in the 2019 Ram 1500, with the typical assortment of nooks and crannies being augmented by new rear mounted Ram bins that can swallow up small items, and are hidden from view by special mats.

The trump card here though is the infotainment system. While lower grade models make do with 5 and 8.4 inch infotainment units, higher tier Rams utilize a massive 12 inch infotainment system, with inspiration clearly borrowed from Tesla. This monstrous screen is the biggest in the segment, and FCA claims that it also boasts higher resolution and sharper clarity than even the 8.4 which is an impressive piece of hardware in its own right. All three infotainment systems are complimented by bulky physical controls that were designed to be operated easily when occupants are wearing thick gloves. All three  also run FCA’s latest iteration of Uconnect which promises to be sharper and more precise with inputs.

Performance for the 2019 Ram 1500 will initially come from two very familiar engines with base models being powered by the venerable 3.6 liter V6. Output here remains identical to the outgoing model with 305 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. Meanwhile the 5.7 liter Hemi V8 brings 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque to the festivities. While both of these engines may seem like shameless retreads of the same old story, RAM engineers uses both of them to introduce all new mild hybrid technology that adds a distinctive touch to them for 2019. Dubbed “e-Torque,” the system uses a 48 amp generator to help provide extra torque to the engine during acceleration. RAM claims that the system can send 90 extra lb-ft to the V6, while V8’s benefit from a 130 lb-ft boost. While RAM did not reveal any specifics regarding fuel economy, we suspect that there will be a small increase especially in city driving with the V6.

All of this power is rooted to either the rear or all four wheels through an eight speed automatic gearbox that has more than 40 shift maps pre-programmed into it, this allows the truck to be highly adaptable to its surroundings, however in a segment where 10-speed automatics have become the norm, having two less cogs in its transmission could place the ram at a slight disadvantage when compared to its peers.

That might not matter as much to the two off-road variants that will be available for buyers. While RAM is offering a separate 4×4 package that adds the essentials like skid plates and tow hooks, the bulk of the attention will be focused on the revamped Rebel variant. While we still prefer the look of the older Rebel versus its new successor, RAM engineers made it more capable with 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires and a potent electronic locking differential. The Rebel also comes with standard coil spring suspension and a 1-inch lift from the factory. This is a notable change from the old Rebel which only offered the lift and standard Active Level air suspension when it was in production. Buyers that prefer the old setup can take solace knowing that it is still available as an optional extra on the current Rebel.

Pricing information has not been announced, but look for the 2019 Ram 1500 to not deviate too much from the old model with base models starting in the mid $20,000 range, with prices shooting all the way past $60,000 for a range topping Ram Limited. The first units are expected to arrive in dealerships later this year, with more information including final fuel economy and pricing information gradually being revealed closer to its official launch to dealerships

Toyota Reveals GR Super Sport Concept At Tokyo Auto Salon

The unveiling of the Mercedes Project ONE hybrid hypercar and the Aston Martin Valkyrie has shown that automakers are willing to push the boundaries of green technology beyond using it merely as a way of increasing fuel economy. The one automaker that has been strangely absent is one of the pioneers of modern hybrid tech, Toyota. The Japanese auto giant is keen on jumping into the act, and has unveiled the GR Super Sport concept at the prestigious Tokyo Auto Salon.


The latest in a recent string of concept and production vehicles to wear the GR (Gazoo Racing) badge, the Super Sport is perhaps the wildest and most spectacular concept that we have seen yet. The concept draws much of its styling inspiration from Toyota’s past LMP1 entries, with the look having a strong resemblance to its most recent entry, the TS050. This family link also shows in its performance hardware, with power coming from a 2.7 liter biturbo V6 that’s capable of pumping out 986 horsepower, and is part of a potent hybrid system. 18-inch wheels shod in massive 330/710 R18 tires help keep the GR Super Sport composed on the track, while the rear mounted exhaust produces an authoritative soundtrack.
Aerodynamic efficiency is also at the forefront of the GR Sport’s mission in life, and this is achieved with a massive front splitter as well as an equally potent rear diffuser, which also enhances the GR Super Sports aesthetic appeal to a high degree. A rear wing generates much needed downforce, and the absence of the rear window and side mirrors forced engineers to utilize a novel camera system, with two mounted rearwards, and the remaining pair located on the front fenders, which look like they are floating in the air from certain angles.


The real question here is whether the GR Super Sport will make the same leap to production that the Valkyrie and Project ONE achieved? Or if it will remain a one off fantasy. Toyota’s vagueness on the subject certainly doesn’t shed any insight with the company only claiming that “It will be some time before you all have the opportunity to get behind the wheel.” However, concept cars like this do typically preview the next generation of performance models for a company, so there could be a slim chance of a production version appearing in some shape or form in the near future.

McLaren Unveils Insanely Bonkers Senna Hypercar, Brings 738 Horsepower To The Track

McLaren has been on a roller coaster ride of success over the past several years with entries like the 570S and the 720S redefining its core identity.  The British supercar maker continues to be a solid alternative to traditional stalwarts Lamborghini and Ferrari, and drive to stand out amongst buyers has driven McLaren to create their wildest, and most track focused road car yet, the limited production Senna.

Named after famed Brazilian Formula 1 driver Ayrton Senna da SIlva, the exterior styling embraces a unique blend of form and function. Looks are subjective, but there’s no question that the Senna’s design has a distinctive character, and it all comes as a result of attempts to make the body as sleek and aerodynamically efficient as possible. Case in point is the double rear diffuser that leads out to the underfloor scoop, and is also partnered with a large rear wing that comes equipped with active aero technology. McLaren is quick to point out that the Senna spent countless hours in the wind tunnel to further refine its svelte bodywork, which embodies the high dedication that McLaren engineers had when it came to creating the ultimate track weapon.

A curious addition is the see through glass panels that are sandwiched into the doors. McLaren claims that the glass is lightweight, but it does take away some of the privacy that is afforded by conventional panels. Lastly, like other odd vehicle features that are offered in Europe, look for these panels to not make the transition to U.S. spec cars due to our country’s stricter safety regulations.

The interior of the car adopts a very minimalist design, but it still manages to cram features such as a rear view backup camera, infotainment system, as well as McLaren’s foldable drivers display. The cabin is also bathed in carbon fiber, and the lightweight carbon fiber seats help enhance the overall ambiance, while also doing their part to shed weight at the same time. Speaking of the fore-mentioned seats, each car will have a distinctively different set of thrones, with McLaren designers custom tailoring the seats  to fit the unique dimensions of their lucky owners.

Power for the Senna comes from the same 4.0 liter biturbo V8 that also sees duty in the 720S. However, in the Senna this engine has been tweaked to unleash 79 more horsepower, bringing the grand total to 789 horsepower, as well as a slightly higher 590 lb-ft of torque. While this might not seem like much of an increase at first glance, it all comes together when you consider that the Senna is much lighter than the 720S with the car weighing in at just 2,641 lbs. McLaren chose to not release formal performance figures for its newest offering, but expect the Senna to be a an absolute missile out on the track. McLaren claims that “savage performance” will be on hand, and these claims have even more traction considering that Senna’s nephew Bruno Senna was directly involved in the car’s development phase.

Production is expected to commence in the third quarter of 2018 after the Senna makes its official public debut at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show. A three seat model dubbed the “BP23” will follow in 2019, and it will serve as the successor to the original F1 supercar. Like the Senna, it will be a part of the Ultimate series, and production is expected to be even more exclusive, with McLaren potentially producing a mere 106 copies, with each one (like the Senna) allegedly already spoken for by potential buyers.

Lamborghini Unveils All Electric Terzo Millennio Concept

Lamborghini has always been known for offering high performance supercars that embrace the tantalizing combination of sleek sporty styling, and the soundtrack that can only be provided by a massive V12 engine. The one thing that Lamborghini has never offered is an all electric supercar, but the company is slowly changing its tune, and has joined forces with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) students to create its wildest concept car yet, the Terzo Millennio.

The exterior styling of the Terzo Millennio reflects the wild styling themes that have defined Lamborghini models for the past few years, while also serving as a compelling glimpse into the brand’s future. Terzo Millennio means “third dimension” in Italian, and its slick suit of clothes certainly looks the part. It not only adds high levels of style and flair, but also advanced technologies that could very well change the way electric cars are produced. For instance, the Terzo Millennio pitches conventional battery packs, and instead adopts advanced super-capacitors that can quickly store and discharge energy. Lamborghini is quick to point out that they can even do both at the same time, while also having a longer shelf life than typical battery packs.

The super-capacitors and the four in-wheel mounted electric motors that they power allowed Lamborghini designers to use their full imagination on its design language. The end result is a slick body that is entirely made out of composite materials, which goes beyond shaving weight, and plays a role in maximizing energy storage. This ingenious layout allows the bodywork to function as a battery which not only helps lighten overall vehicle weight, but allows the car to store more energy than one with bulky battery packs.

In addition to its talents as a battery, the bodywork also has a degree of immortality that would make the T-1000 from Terminator 2 Judgement Day  green with envy. This is achieved with specially designed sensors that allows the material to sense small cracks, and subsequently heal itself before they turn into larger cracks that threaten the concept’s overall structural integrity. The chassis of the Terzo Millennio was constructed using Lamborghini’s familiar Forged Composites technology, and was designed to give the concept world class handling manners, especially out on the track.

The Italian supercar maker has not been shy about stating its disdain towards autonomous technology, but Lamborghini engineers have equipped the Terzo Millennio with a type of virtual co-pilot that shows the driver the fastest line around a track. The idea here is to help improve the driver’s reaction times, while also making them comfortable even on an unfamiliar track.

“We are inspired by embracing what is impossible today to craft the realities of tomorrow: Lamborghini must always create the dreams of the next generation,” said Lamborghini CEO Stefano Domenicali.”

Sadly the Terzo Millennio and its futuristic charms are not heading into official production anytime soon, but some of its styling elements could trickle down into the Aventador’s replacement which is due to arrive towards the end of the decade.

Apollo Unveils Intensa Emozione

Apollo, the young company that emerged from the ashes of the bankrupt and bitterly missed Gumpert, is out to bring emotion and flair back to the hypercar segment. While Apollo has been recently quiet as of late, the company ended this figurative radio silence by unveiling the all new Intensa Emozione.

The exterior styling of the Intensa Emozione is a wild styling excercise that is allegedly meant to recapture “the lost emotion and fading spirit” that Apollo claims, is ruining the hypercar genre. While we’re not sure if we can agree with Apollo on that particular finding, it is nice to see a relatively fresh design that harkens back to the old Gumpert Apollo. Like the Gumpert, the Intensa Emozione does look a bit cluttered from certain angles, but there is a healthy mixture of form and function present here.

The front fascia for example features a huge front splitter that forms an extensive aero kit when paired with the diveplanes, body mounted channels and so much more. Our highlight feature is the gigantic rear spoiler that is easily the biggest in the segment, and could also substitute for the flight deck of a scale model aircraft carrier.

The end result is downforce, lots of it with the IE benefiting from 2,976 lbs of the stuff when thrashing its way through a track day. For those that are curious, thats the equivalent of an entire Toyota Corolla pushing down on the car (an impressive feat.)  A carbon fiber monocoque chassis is also on hand to keep weight down, while also increasing structual strength at the same time.

The interior of the IE is all buisness, and features supportive racing seats with healthy doses of red accents, and a race inspired steering wheel. Look for carbon fiber and other lightweight materials to be splashed throughout the cabin to help enhance its performance oriented mission in life while also delivering bespoke levels of comfort.

Performance comes from a naturally aspirated V12 thats good for 780 horsepower and 560 lb-ft of torque. This ungodly power is channeled to the rear wheels through a six speed Hewland sequential gearbox with pneumatic changing gear. Apollo claims that the end result makes it “a bit savage” but we think the cool noises it produces will balance things out nicely.

Predictably the Intensa Emozione is a member of the 200 mph club, and the Hewland gearbox plays a big role in this feat. However, drivers will have to manually engage first gear and use a clutch to get the car moving, before the computer takes over in higher gears. Apollo claims that it’s a piece of the “old school experience” but we’ll chalk it up to the needs of the gearbox itself.

Handling is also razor focused thanks to F1 inspired double wishbone suspension with pushrod and rocker arm architecture front and rear. Adjustable anti-roll bars and Bilstein dampers round out the package, but buyers can have a more bespoke setup installed if they so choose.

Apollo is only producing 10 Intensa Emoziones before ceasing production, so buyers will have to act quickly to snatch one for their garage. They will also have to pay accordingly for the privelege, with each copy starting at $2.6 million with our choice being the bare carbon look (pictured.) Buyers will also have access to exclusive perks, including first dibs on future Apollo products like the upcoming 2019 Arrow.

Mazda’s Rotary Engine Could Return As Range Extender Option

When the Mazda RX-8 ceased production several years ago, its departure represented not only the end of an era for Mazda, but also seemingly sealed the fate of the rotary engine, which was once seen as a novel solution for higher fuel economy by automakers back in the 1970s. However, recent comments by a high ranking Mazda executive appear to suggest that the rotary could be making a return to production automobiles, albeit in an unexpected role.

In a recent interview with the folks at Automotive News, Mitsuo Hitomi chief of Mazda’s powertrain division revealed that there could be a very good chance that the next iteration of the rotary engine could appear as a range extender for electric automobiles. While this would be a dramatic change in role for an engine that once defined the pinnacle of Mazda performance, its potential shift in function could help the novel powerplant fulfill its original green intentions, especially when one looks at prior efforts at this idea by Mazda.

Back in 2013 Mazda was already working on a rotary engine equipped extended range EV, with this early effort materializing in the Mazda2 RE Range Extender concept car. The tiny concept had a 250 mile driving range with half of it coming from its battery, while the other half was supplied by a 330 cc rotary engine which was hooked up to a 2.6 liter fuel tank. More recently, the RX-Vision concept also teased a rotary powered performance vehicle that could also add electrification to its list of tricks if it ever makes its way into formal production.

With all that said, its important to look at the finer details into how such an idea is possible. While the rotary engine has never been known for its efficiency (a key trait that made automakers such as GM and AMC abandon the idea for their lineups,) it is a very smooth running engine, and is also reasonably compact when compared to a conventional engine. Modern technology could allow Mazda engineers to make the engines even smaller than before, which will not only improve overall fuel economy, but also improve space and weight savings for the vehicle at the same time. These latter two traits would allow Mazda to add more batteries, or simply keep the car lightweight, and use this newfound lightness to retain the spirited handling that Mazda models have been long known for.

While this news might not be encouraging to rotary die-hards eagerly awaiting an RX-8 successor, Hitomi also revealed that a bigger rotary engine is also in development with the engine being tuned towards formal sports car applications. However, like many good things in life, the engine is reportedly being stonewalled by management that want a better business case for offering such a model in the first place. If we were in the board room, we would highlight the lack of a formal halo entry in Mazda’s lineup, which would help create a halo effect for other Mazda models including its growing CUV lineup. Either way, it looks like the humble rotary has a strong chance at catering to a new era of buyers if all the cards are right.

 

2018 Volvo XC40 Goes Small, Introduces New Purchasing Tools

Volvo has big plans for the 2018 XC40 CUV, and it intends to not only take another slice of the broader CUV sales pie, but also redefine the ownership experience as a whole in a unique bid to rewrite the way the CUV segment is entered by customers.

The exterior styling of the XC40 mirrors many of the styling elements that also define its larger 60 and 90 series siblings. This is a good thing considering the high levels of demand that both the XC60 and XC90 have experienced since their respective launches. Volvo also hopes to lure younger buyers to the marque with the XC40’s customization factor. A key example of this is the 17 different color combinations buyers can choose for the body as well as contrasting hues for the roof. This distinctly MINI-esque move should help the XC40 standout in crowded parking lots and out on city streets.

The interior aims to further build on the elegant design language of its larger kin, and is a welcome blend of youthful sophistication. Like the exterior, the cabin has several distinct themes to choose from, and aims to outshine its rivals by offering a healthy list of standard equipment. Notable items on that list include a nine-inch touchscreen, wireless phone charging capability, dual zone climate control, and 18-inch alloy wheels. This focus on quality and value is welcome in the compact CUV segment where it seems many entries have compromises and don’t deliver a balanced package.

Performance hardware reflects the XC40’s place in the compact segment, and buyers will initially have two engines to choose from. The D4 AWD model will feature a 188 horsepower four cylinder diesel, while the gasoline driven T5 AWD has a turbocharged four banger that produces a healthy 244 horsepower. Both variants come equipped with Volvo’s buttery smooth eight speed Geartronic automatic, and will offer stylish Momentum and R-Design trim levels when they eventually make their appearance in Volvo showrooms.

Naturally, the Volvo badge means high levels of safety equipment, and the XC40 does not skimp on that crucial category. Volvo’s usual assortment of safety equipment and technology is present and accounted for, but the Swedish car giant also made its City Safety package standard on the urban focused XC40. This special suite of equipment features detection and emergency auto braking if the XC40 detects pedestrians, vehicles, cyclists, and large animals. Other goodies include a 360 degree camera, Cross Traffic alert with brake support, as well as Pilot Assist.

As mentioned earlier, the 2018 XC40 also aims to spearhead Volvo’s recent push into new business models that are tailored to give customers new options when it comes to purchasing a Volvo product. One of these includes an all new “Care by Volvo” all inclusive subscription package that is based on a national flat-rate fee. This is an interesting alternative to a traditional lease, and could help Volvo lure in budget conscious XC40 buyers that might not otherwise consider the brand. Another interesting idea is an all new cellphone app that would allow owners to share their vehicle with friends and family in a nod to the recent trend towards specialized ride sharing and vehicle rental services.

Look for more information regarding these subscription plans to be revealed later this year at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Pricing for the 2018 XC40 is expected to start around $35,000 with fully loaded examples surpassing $45,000.

 

 

Mercedes Teases Project ONE Hypercar

The trail of teasers and statements surrounding the much hyped Project ONE hypercar are nearing the home stretch. With the Frankfurt Auto Show fast approaching, Mercedes-Benz has upped the ante by releasing a shadowy teaser image.

The lone image does not reveal very much, but the few elements that do stick out of the darkness offer compelling clues to the car’s wild capabilities. Mercedes claims that the Project ONE is “a two-seater supersports showcar” and it serves as the current pinnacle of the German auto giants engineering capabilities.

However, its also safe to call the Project ONE a road going Le Mans prototype with a Formula 1 engine. In fact, Project ONE evokes memories of the fabled CLK-GTR supercar. Unlike that model though, the Project ONE will be a visually innovative look into the future, especially with its performance hardware. This includes the Formula 1 grade engine and hybrid system, as well as the electronic systems.

The roof mounted scoop also hints at the aerodynamic tweaks that are in store for this car with much of the inspiration coming from Le Mans spec race cars. Look for the interior to invoke function over form with many racing elements and materials being used instead of the usual assortment of leather, wood, and other luxuries that define typical Benz models.

Performance for the Project ONE comes from a 1.6 liter turbocharged V6 that incorporates hybrid assistance technology and is largely based on the setup that sees duty in the 2015 Mercedes-AMG W06 Formula 1 hybrid car. Naturally, the engine will be reworked for road use with Mercedes claiming that it can last for 31,000 miles between rebuilds. This is impressive considering that the engine has a rev limit of over 10,000 rpm and packs “over 1000 horsepower.” This is achieved with the help of four electric motors with two mounted on the engine, and the remaining pair on the front axle.

When the Project ONE makes its debut in Frankfurt, it will appear as a near production prototype with the first deliveries expected to take place in 2019. Don’t bother pre-ordering through your local dealer unless you have done so already. Mercedes-Benz is only making 275 copies, with all of them being pre-sold for a cool $2.6 million each.

2018 Mustang

2018 Ford Mustang To Bring 460 Horsepower, Other Tweaks To Buyers

The 2018 Ford Mustang already has shaken the muscle car world thanks to its slew of updates which aim to refine the car even further. While more style and comfort are welcome features, Ford’s performance updates are causing quite the stir.

The tweaked 5.0 liter V8 now produces 460 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque which is a notable upgrade over the old engine. The engine benefits from an all new “Drag Strip” mode which helps trim the 0 to 60 time to a swift four seconds flat. This is mainly due to the drag mode tweaking the shifting and power delivery from the 10-speed automatic transmission, which reduces excess wheel slip.

“Typically when you shift gears you give up time” stated Mustang chief engineer Carl Widmann. “In drag mode, the engine’s torque doesn’t drop when you shift.” To illustrate this point, Widmann claimed that drag mode made the Mustang faster off the line than the $94,000 Porsche 911 Carrera (an impressive claim indeed.)

The company didn’t leave EcoBoost buyers out to dry with these updates, and has transferred some of the GT’s magic to the four cylinder version of the Mustang. Power is up to 310 horsepower, with torque increasing by 30 lb-ft to a revised 350 lb-ft. When equipped with the 10-speed and the forementioned drag mode, the four cylinder can make the sprint to 60 mph in five seconds.

Ford is opening up ordering for the 2018 Ford Mustang this week, with the first units arriving at Ford showrooms shortly after.

Audi Showcases 2018 A8 Model Family

Audi’s venerable A8 flagship has always served as a compelling glimpse into the current state of the luxury car market. However, when it came time to unveil the 2018 A8, Audi instead chose to use the model to showcase the future, and if all goes according to plan, the future could indeed be a very different battleground for luxury car brands.

 

The exterior styling of the 2018 A8 then can be viewed as the perfect camouflage, with a look that does not stray too far away from the current generation A8. It’s a little bigger in appearance, and Audi designers will have 12 different color choices for buyers to ogle over, but its conservative suit of clothes, as well as the subdued approach it takes to styling will no doubt please the Audi faithful. A key change can be found at the front fascia which features an all new Singleframe grille, as well as equally futuristic HD Matrix LED headlights that feature lasers.

While the lasers are still a step or two behind from replicating your favorite sci-fi battle scene, they do help double the visible range of the high beams at speeds above 43 mph. It is currently unknown if the system will formally make its way to the U.S. due to our country’s strict safety regulations, but look for Audi to possibly make tweaks to the system to help it comply with U.S. regulators and give buyers across the pond something to look forward to.

 

 

The nifty lasers are cool, but it is the cabin where the A8’s leap into the future becomes more apparent. The flagship model gets an all new iteration of Audi’s Virtual Cockpit system with a digital instrument cluster that now displays various readouts in crystal clear HD quality. The 10.5 inch dash mounted infotainment system is virtually flush with the dashboard itself, and arrives with fewer buttons than the old car. This is due to the Multi Media Infotainment system utilizing more touch and voice commands to access various features. Audi lists a lofty 400 commands for the system, but thankfully, they were kind enough to leave the steering wheel controls intact as well as various oral and tactile feedback cues to let occupants know a task has been executed.

As expected from a car befitting of its status, the 2018 A8 offers a whole host of amenities to its occupants. These include 3D sound for the rear passengers, a host of climate and electronic amenities, and so much more. Our favorite feature is the all new “relaxation seat.” Only available on the passenger side rear seat of the A8L, this enviable throne offers the usual assortment of heating/cooling and massage functions as well as a trick foot rest that comes equipped with massage capability. This novel feature would also be the first time that a massaging foot rest has ever appeared in a factory vehicle, and look for it to be replicated by rivals such as the Mercedes S-Class, as well as the BMW 7-Series in the near future.

 

 

Meanwhile on the mechanical front, Audi engineers left their mark on the forward thinking 2018 Audi A8 in a number of ways. Big news here is that every A8 model is now a hybrid. The 2018 A8 will initially launch with a pair of turbocharged V6 engines – a petrol powered 3.o liter turbocharged TFSI V6 good for 340 horsepower, as well as a 3.0 liter TDI engine that produces a slightly lower 286 horsepower. Each engine is paired with a mild hybrid system that allows the beefy A8 to coast for up to 40 seconds without the engine being activated at speeds between 34 to 99 mph. The novel system also allows for slow speed operation as well as start -stop capability.

After those engines launch, Audi will be bringing out a pair of 4.0 liter V8 engines for both gas and diesel buyers, as well as the return of the silky smooth W12 engine, and the green e-tron plug-in hybrid model. All 2018 A8 variants will send their power to all four wheels through an eight speed automatic transmission, as well as the latest iteration of the company’s Quattro all-wheel drive system. The suspension also gains new moves, and aims to help improve the A8’s composure in corners. Audi dubs the system “AI Suspension,” and the new system incorporates and electric motor, as well as separate components for each wheel. According to the company,  the end result is a two toned experience with the 2018 A8 having the comfort oriented compliance of a luxury car, while also having the agile stance of a sports car at the same time.

The new 2018 Audi A8 will make its initial appearance in German showrooms this fall, and will command a hefty price tag for its futuristic take on motoring. The V6 model leads the charge with a base MSRP of €90,600 while the A8L wields a slightly higher €94,100. These figures roughly translate to $103,000 and $107,000 U.S. dollars with various options and other equipment potentially pushing the price as high as $120,000 a far cry from the current model and its $82,500 base price.