What's New for 1999
The A8's warm weather package is modified to improve electronic accessory performance, while dual-pane laminated glass replaces insulated glass. Standard on the A8 is a larger right outside mirror, a first aid kit and a CD changer. A premium leather/Alcantara trim package and a new Volcano Black exterior paint color are optional. A8 prices will remain unchanged from 1998.
The A8 just keeps getting better. Sporting senior A4 styling, sumptuous interior appointments, and the revolutionary Audi Space Frame (ASF), the A8 is lighter, tighter and more responsive than competitors such as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
The ASF employs lightweight aluminum alloy construction designed to provide superior structural rigidity, improved handling and responsiveness, better fuel efficiency and easier recycling. Two models are available: the A8 3.7, which has front-wheel drive and is powered by a 3.7-liter twin-cam aluminum-alloy V8 engine producing 230 horsepower, and the A8 4.2 Quattro, which has all-wheel drive and a 300-horsepower 4.2-liter twin-cam aluminum-alloy V8 engine under the hood. The 4.2 Quattro also comes standard with a 200-watt Audi/Bose Music System.
A8 3.7s are equipped with the same four-link front suspension design found on the A4. This setup virtually removes torque steer while providing precise, neutral steering. Both models have a fully independent rear suspension, which features passive rear-wheel steering to help stabilize the A8's handling at all speeds.
Standard Electronic Differential Locking (EDL) provides low-speed traction control operating through the antilock braking system on all A8s, while the A8 3.7 also benefits from Anti-slip Regulation (ASR), which controls wheel slippage at all speeds by modulating engine power.
Airbags are provided for all passengers. Dual front airbags are supplemented by side airbags tucked into the front seats. Rear passengers also get side airbags, mounted to the seat rather than the door panel.
Drivers will find an interior slathered in burled walnut and Nappa leather upholstery. Instrumentation is superb and features soothing red nighttime back lighting. Front seats are power adjustable in 14 different ways, and a memory feature accommodates four different settings for the driver's seat, exterior mirrors, driver's headrest height and steering wheel position. The steering wheel tilts out of the way when the key is removed from the ignition. The automatic dual-zone temperature controls employ two sunlight sensors to help maintain accuracy. A central locking system controls windows, door locks, sunroof, trunk and fuel door. All windows have a one-touch up/down function, enhanced by a pinch protection system.
For 1999, Audi modifies its warm weather package to improve the performance of electronic accessories such as garage door openers and electronic toll passes. The package no longer includes insulated glass. Standard on the 1999 A8s is a larger right outside mirror for improved visibility, a first aid kit in the center console and a CD changer. A premium leather/alcantra interior trim package and a new volcano black exterior paint color are available.
Retail prices have not changed for 1999, despite the addition of more standard equipment. You can still buy an A8 3.7 for $57,400 and a 4.2 Quattro for $65,000. Audi claims that the Quattro will get from rest to 60 mph in less than seven seconds.
Audi is on a roll lately, thanks to the excellent A4 sedan, which manages to undercut nearly all of its competition in the entry-level luxury class without sacrificing the luxury portion of the equation. Time will tell if the rather expensive A8's technological advances and standard equipment are desirable enough to bring BMW, Lexus and Benz intenders into Audi showrooms.