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Audi A8 ......Preview of Audi's 2004 Luxury Flagship
By Audi Press Group.
May 14, 2003, 00:36 PST
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Behind the wheel, A8 L owners will experience driving the most sporty of luxury

sedans, with its advanced aluminum air spring suspension and shock absorber control,

quattro® permanent all-wheel drive system and powerful 4.2-liter V8 engine.

Passengers will enjoy tremendous seating comfort and space. Ergonomic power

front seats with available massage, heating and ventilation functions are designed to

envelop passengers, while the optional four-zone automatic air conditioning with

individual rear-seat settings provides a high level of comfort and well-being. Indirect

ventilation prevents drafts and ensures desired climate settings during every trip.

Additionally, the air conditioning’s quiet operation has highly refined acoustics.



The flowing lines of the new Audi A8 L clearly reveal the personality of this

nearly 17-foot-long sedan: a harmonious combination of clarity and sporting character,

grace and elegance. A low front with an unusually short overhang, a high, powerful tail

and the distinct wedge-shaped body of the new A8 L are all features of its dynamic

styling. The A8 L’s crouched silhouette and shoulder line rising to the rear underline the

sporty effect. The powerful, well-proportioned styling of the A8 L radiates both elegance

and agility.

The extended wheelbase of the A8 L, at 121 inches, is neatly incorporated

between the B- and D-pillars. The rear doors, which are also increased by five inches,

allow for particularly convenient passenger entry and exit. Even more convenience

awaits the passengers inside. Head room in the rear, along with shoulder height and

elbow room has been increased as compared to the previous generation.

The Aluminum Body

The innovative aluminum body of the A8 L uses a further developed form of the

Audi Space Frame (ASF®) (see ASF release for details), and is the basis for the new

A8 L’s ride comfort, excellent road behavior and handling characteristics. Compared to

the previous A8 model, the number of body elements has been significantly reduced by

using more functional large castings and extruded sections.

The A8 L has a completely closed space frame and therefore has considerable

increase in static torsional rigidity — a decisive yardstick for dynamic driving and

freedom from vibration. The A8 L’s performance in these areas, and its balance of high

rigidity and low weight, challenges standards set in the luxury sedan segment.

Engine and Driveline

The 2004 A8 L features a 330-horsepower 4.2-liter V8 five-valve engine and

Audi’s legendary quattro permanent all-wheel drive system. The standard six-speed

Tiptronic® automatic transmission invites the driver to choose freely between the sporting

character of a manual- shift gearbox and the convenience of an automatic transmission.

The engine has gained significantly in terms of output and performance. An

additional 20 hp and 15 lbs. ft. of torque results in an estimated 0-60 miles per hour sprint

of just 6.3 seconds. The A8 L has an electronically governed top speed of 155 mph.

The A8 L features a new six-speed Tiptronic with Dynamic Shift Program (DSP).

Thanks to the additional ratio, power output and torque are always available in such

accurately controlled amounts that there are no further conflicts between spontaneous

power flow, high performance and refinement.

Those who prefer to shift manually will appreciate the convenience of the A8 L’s

adaptive electronics. A version of the DSP specially developed for the six-speed

Tiptronic helps to reduce the number of gear shifts, despite the additional ratio compared

to the previous five-speed unit.

The quattro permanent all-wheel drive, through which the A8 L transfers its

power to the road, remains an advanced feature in the luxury car class. It provides

excellent traction and stable cornering, and minimizes any self-steering tendency caused

by the influence of tractive force through the driveline. This is a precondition for high

cornering speeds and a high level of dynamic stability. The end result is maximum

driving pleasure and active safety.


The 2004 A8 L has an aluminum suspension with a four-link front axle layout and

a controlled toe-angle trapezoidal-link rear axle — both concepts that gave the A8 L’s

predecessor its renowned responsiveness and steering precision. Audi’s suspension

engineers have now purposefully developed its strengths. The braking system and

steering system with variable transmission ratio and Servotronic® are newly designed.

The adaptive air suspension (see Air Suspension release for details) is an air

suspension concept used for the first time in the luxury car class, which eliminates the

classic conflicting goals of satisfactory handling properties versus a high level of

suspension comfort. Lowering the ride height at high speeds improves the aerodynamics

of the A8 L and therefore helps reduce its fuel consumption.

The A8 L features sporty seven-spoke, 17-inch alloy wheels with 235/55R17 tires

— a combination that provides excellent handling and ride comfort. This equipment also

sets high standards for wet road grip and low rolling resistance.

Standard Equipment

Undeniably, it’s not the quantity alone but the special quality of the new A8 L’s

standard equipment that sets a benchmark in the luxury car class: The A8’s speedsensitive

Servotronic with new steering-angle sensing assists in matching the car’s speed

and steering wheel angle. The new six-speed Tiptronic and multifunction, four-spoke

steering wheel ensures a high level of handling confidence.

Additionally, Audi’s development engineers concentrated on improving the

automatic air conditioning system by reducing the likelihood of unpleasant currents of air

inside the cabin. Additional air outlets have been integrated into the top of the fascia,

from where the necessary air volume is distributed without any noticeable drafts. Air is

supplied to the rear seats through outlets in the B-pillars, at the rear end of the center

console and in the rear foot wells.

A newly developed moisture-sensing system in the A8 L reduces the risk of

fogged windows. The demisting performance of the air conditioning evaporator is based

on data from the temperature and moisture sensors and from an infrared radiation sensor

that determines the temperature of the windshield without touching it.

But that’s not enough. Forward-looking technologies such as the Multi Media

Interface (MMI) (see MMI release for details), the electro-mechanical parking brake with

starting assistant, and LEDs in the rear turn indicators and side repeater lamps are once

again confirmation of Audi’s advanced technology.

The same applies to passive safety equipment. The driver’s and front passenger’s

airbags have dual-stage inflation for optimum protection in frontal collisions; the driver’s

airbag is a ring pattern. In the event of a side collision, side-impact airbags in the

seatbacks and the SIDEGUARDhead airbag system help provide occupant safety in the

outboard seating positions.

The A8 L’s interior ambience is governed by the fine wood décor that extends to

the sides. Various color combinations — from Black and Light Beige to Brown and

Matte Palladium — are available for the seat upholstery and trim. The striking aluminum

optics in the cockpit highlight the dynamic character of the A8 L, such as the MMI

terminal, the instrument panel’s tubular dial surrounds and the clip on the multifunction

steering wheel.

The premium Bose® Surround Sound stereo/CD changer with dynamic noise

compensation offers the utmost in acoustics and keeps occupants supplied with up-todate

information. Four-way antenna diversity and 12 speakers provide premier reception

and sound quality for all seating positions. An equalizer matched to the car’s equipment

and trim specification takes into account changes to interior acoustics caused, for

instance, by the choice of upholstery.

The Bose system is a completely new design and assures listening pleasure via the

five amplifier channels. The channels distribute sound around the listener as in a concert

hall — an aural experience that is setting new standards in the automotive luxury class.

Optional Equipment

Distinction is of the highest importance when designing an automobile —

particularly in the luxury class. The new A8 L offers an almost inexhaustible list of

design, equipment and technical options.

Power front seats with massage, heat and ventilation functions, together with

four-zone automatic air conditioning, provide among the best in travel comfort. An

optional solar-cell sunroof produces enough electrical energy to supply the passenger

compartment continuously with fresh air via the blower — even with the ignition off.

Additional leather upholstery choices extend to the door armrests and center

consoles. With the selection of Amber Vavona wood or Beige Grained Birch, an

additional note of individuality is created in the A8 L interior. The extended aluminum

look with numerous applications on the center console and fascia underlines the sporty

flair of the A8 L cockpit.

The interior lighting package with ambient illumination has several pre-defined

profiles to ensure a light intensity in the interior that matches actual driving conditions.

Ambient illumination creates a new level of harmony with the entire interior design.

Audi Advantage

The 2004 Audi A8 L is backed by the Audi Advantage. This industry-leading

combination of warranties and protection includes:

Four-year/50,000-mile no-charge scheduled maintenance

Four-year/50,000-mile limited new vehicle warranty

12-year limited warranty against corrosion perforation

24-hour Roadside Assistance for four years




LOS ANGELES — As Audi’s flagship model, the A8 L exemplifies sporting character,

clear design, innovative technology and superlative quality. Featuring a new adaptive air

suspension, the all-new 2004 A8 L represents the utmost execution of Audi’s

commitment to that charge.

The adaptive air suspension of the A8 L resolves the classic conflict of achieving

superior sports car handling qualities while maintaining the suspension comfort of a

luxury-class vehicle. The unique system, which is standard on every 2004 A8 L, replaces

the entire conventional steel suspension system of the previous generation.

Reducing body movements while optimizing road manners, the adaptive air

suspension of the all-new A8 L has continuously variable damper settings and four predefined

settings — from overtly sporty to ultra-comfortable — for a suspension

characteristic to best suit the moment and the road ahead. In addition, the adaptive air

system allows the suspension to be raised or lowered to better match road and driving

conditions. When lowered, the center of gravity drops, significantly increasing

directional stability and optimizing aerodynamics for increased fuel economy. Raised,

the system produces a compliant ride and added ground clearance over uneven roads.

Adaptive Air Suspension with Continuously Adjustable Damping

The 2004 A8 L achieves absolute driving comfort by combining the adaptive air

suspension with an electronically controlled, continuously adjustable damping system.

Numerous sensor signals, including the rate of acceleration of the body, vertical

movements at the four wheels, steering angle and position of the brake and accelerator

pedals determine optimum suspension resistance.

When driving straight ahead on smooth roads, and if no higher damping forces are

required, the damper settings remain comfortably soft, while specific damping force

adjustment at individual wheels eliminates any body movements that might reduce

occupant comfort. The configuration also benefits dynamic handling properties by

reducing roll or pitch when starting, stopping and cornering.

Components and Function

The components of the adaptive air suspension on the 2004 A8 L are "layered" to

enable excellent running characteristics while maintaining the sensitive response needed

to handle minor roadway imperfections. At all four wheels, air-suspension bellows are

arranged concentrically around continuously variable twin-tube shock absorbers and airsuspension

struts that are pressurized by an electric air compressor in the engine

compartment and a pressure reservoir at the rear of the vehicle.

The bellows, constructed of a special multi-layered elastomer material with

polyamide cord inserts to increase strength, absorb the forces produced in the air spring.

Air lines connect the individual components, while electromagnetic valves

regulate airflow. Data from four sensors on the axles and three acceleration sensors on

the body are evaluated in the suspension control unit. Based on the driving situation

identified, the computer adjusts individual shock absorbers in milliseconds to maintain

optimum driving dynamics and ride comfort.

The adaptive air suspension system maintains vehicle suspension height,

irrespective of loads. Extra air is pumped into the springs at high gross weights, and

discharged when the load is removed. This function adapts the firmness of the springs to

the load situation at all times, resulting in a consistent ride and stance.

Running Gear

Attached to the aluminum chassis is a four-link front suspension and self-tracking,

trapezoidal-link rear suspension — concepts responsible for the characteristic agility and

high-precision steering found in its predecessor.

The four-link front axle of the 2004 A8 L has been moved forward by 2.5 inches

compared to the previous model, providing a much more favorable axle load distribution

to maximize handling advantages. Lightweight components help reduce unsprung

masses up front while sheet-metal shells with greatly reduced wall thickness at the

subframe reduce weight 20 percent compared to previous generations.

The trapezoidal-link rear suspension also has been advanced, with reduced toe-in

across the entire spring travel to enhance directional stability, steering precision and

handling. Further, the adaptive air suspension system allows for even more ride comfort

from this axle design.

Steering Gear

As standard equipment, the 2004 A8 L has variable-ratio rack-and-pinion steering

and advanced Servotronic® speed-dependent power assistance. The variable ratio of the

rack and pinion improves steering stability at high speeds without compromising comfort

and convenience at lower speeds.

Servotronic enables a driver to maneuver into parking spaces with minimum

steering effort and maximum accuracy, and provides a clear response from the road at

higher speeds. Further, the system offers a higher level of sensitivity in the straightahead

position and more comfortable response. Steering kinematics have also been

optimized so that the longer wheelbase, all-wheel drive A8 L provides a turning circle

that is shorter than comparable class competitors with rear-wheel drive.

To ensure driving comfort, the A8 L’s steering wheel can be electrically adjusted

nearly two inches up or down and toward or away from the driver. Intensive detail work

where the steering column is attached to the body ensures vibrations through the steering

wheel are suppressed and isolated from driver feel.

Driver-influenced Driving Dynamics

The adaptive air suspension system of the 2004 Audi A8 L allows for driver

influence of suspension characteristics and operating dynamics. Via the car’s MMI

terminal (see MMI release for details), drivers can choose between four common

damping traits and ride heights, and two situation-specific modes:

Automatic level, with an initial ground clearance of 4.7 in.

Dynamic level, with a ground clearance of 3.9 in.

Comfort level, with a constant ground clearance of 4.7 in.

Lift level, with a ground clearance of 5.7 in.

Trailer towing


While stationary or traveling up to medium speeds with typical road conditions,

Automatic level sets the vehicle at 4.7 in. of ground clearance. To maximize

aerodynamic advantages when speed exceeds 75 miles per hour for longer than 30

seconds, the vehicle is automatically lowered one inch to the "Motorway" setting of 3.7

in. of ground clearance. When aerodynamics are less of an issue, such as speeds below

44 mph for longer than 30 seconds, the vehicle automatically lifts to its original stance.

For more active driving response, the Dynamic level lowers the center of gravity

.79 in. and sets firmer springs and harder damping characteristics with 3.9 in. of ground


If speed exceeds 75 mph for longer than 30 seconds, aerodynamic advantages are

maximized by automatically lowering the vehicle an additional .20 in. to the 3.7 in.

Motorway setting. The vehicle automatically returns to the static Dynamic level of 3.9

in. of ground clearance when speeds stay below 44 mph for more than two minutes, or

immediately upon slowing below 22 mph.

In Comfort level, extra-smooth bump control is provided by less-frequent

adjustments to the damping force to maximize compression travel with a constant ground

clearance of 4.7 in.

For travel on uneven terrain, Lift level can be activated on demand at speeds

below 50 mph for an added .98 in. of ground clearance — to 5.7 in. To prevent topheavy

tendencies, the suspension automatically lowers to the most recent previously

selected mode when terrain and conditions permit speeds above 62 mph.

There are also two situation-specific modes available: Trailer towing becomes the

default setting whenever a trailer is hitched to maintain the suspension attitude and avoid

altering vehicle front height. Jack mode, meanwhile, interrupts all control processes to

prevent undesired automatic height changes during wheel and/or tire service.

Adaptive Air Suspension – Sport

A sport mode for the A8 L’s adaptive air suspension will be available as a late

introduction. The adaptive air suspension – Sport mode blends aggressive suspension

attitude with comfort — a combination unmatched by conventional sport suspensions.

Like standard adaptive air suspension, adaptive air suspension – Sport has four

modes, each with its own characteristic:

Sport Comfort

Sport Automatic

Sport Dynamic

Sport Lift

In adaptive air suspension – Sport, damper and suspension characteristics are

noticeably firmer, and at 3.9 in. initial ground clearance, vehicle level is approximately

.79 in. lower than the standard adaptive air suspension.

Adaptive air suspension – Sport Comfort provides slightly more aggressive ride

and handling characteristics than standard Comfort. In Sport Comfort, the shock

absorber damping forces are not increased as often in the lower speed range and, in order

to optimize full spring travel when driving at high speeds, the body level and ground

clearance are held constant.

Spring and damping rates in Sport Dynamic are slightly higher than in standard

Dynamic, as they are in Sport Lift mode, with the body raised .98 in. to a maximum 4.7

in. of ground clearance.

Sport Automatic is more aggressive than standard Automatic, and is the only

Sport mode that automatically adjusts suspension height according to vehicle speed to

maximize aerodynamics.

Adaptive Air Suspension Evolution

The advantages of air suspension have been successfully demonstrated by the

Audi allroad quattro, combining the dynamism of a sports wagon with the capability of

an off-road vehicle. The adaptive air suspension of the 2004 A8 L, however, is

completely new.

A key development target of the all-new A8 L was to resolve the conflict between

superior handling and a level of ride comfort befitting a vehicle of this class, while

maintaining driving dynamics and qualities that are entirely in keeping with the sporting

character of the A8 L.

With the technically advanced adaptive air suspension, a powerful V8 engine,

new six-speed Tiptronic® transmission, a low-weight aluminum body, Audi’s legendary

quattro® permanent four-wheel drive system and advanced aluminum running gear, the

2004 A8 L offers unrivaled comfort, handling and safety in a world-class luxury car.


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