May 17, 2019

What we're driving: 2019 Audi A8 L quattro

This image shows the dark brown and gray interior of the A8.

From the rear seat, you can control just about everything in the Audi A8. Photo: Audi

This week I am driving the luxurious 2019 Audi A8 L quattro, which is as delightful in the back seat as it is in the driver's seat.

Why it matters: The A8 is Audi's flagship, so it gets the latest technologies that will eventually filter down to other Audi models.

  • Unfortunately, it does not include the much-anticipated Traffic Jam Pilot, Audi's new Level 3 autonomy system.
  • Audi has shelved the system for now because of regulatory challenges in the U.S. and Europe.

Yes, but: This car's technology will still blow you away, though, like the predictive suspension that scans the road ahead to skip over potholes and the 4-wheel steering system that gives this 17-foot-long behemoth the turning radius of a nimble A4.

  • The interior is serene and inviting, with customized lighting and wood trim on the dash that retracts to reveal hidden air vents.
  • A new infotainment system, featuring 2 large touchscreens, is intuitive and responsive.

Rear-seat passengers can customize their experience using a smartphone-sized remote control that pops out of the rear center console, controlling everything from the deeply reclining seats and heated massaging footrest to the infotainment screens.

The intrigue: A8 is loaded with driver-assistance technology, even without the Level 3 system. New features include:

  • "Hands-on" traffic jam assist technology, which eases stress in stop-and-go traffic.
  • Intersection assist, which warns drivers of oncoming traffic when their view is obstructed.
  • Emergency assist, which detects if the driver is unresponsive and brings the car to a stop in its lane, turns on the hazard lights, and calls 911.

The bottom line: The A8 is a dream, but dreams can be expensive. The starting price is $83,800, but the loaded version I'm driving is $123,045.

Go deeper: See what else Joann has been driving

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