Edmunds.com's 2011 Technology Breakthrough Award

Audi's Flagship A8 Sedan Wins Annual Award

Audi's flagship 2011 A8 sedan is the winner of the 2011 Edmunds.com Breakthrough Technology Award. Edmunds gives the award each year to a vehicle that sets the standard for intuitive, practical and affordable technology that enhances safety and convenience for drivers and passengers. Any new vehicle available for sale in the U.S. within the last year is eligible. The 2010 Ford Taurus was the previous winner, when the award was first launched.

The 2011 Audi A8 stands out because of two innovative technologies: MMI Touch and Google Earth mapping. MMI Touch, the first automotive touchpad application, allows drivers to input characters for navigation destinations or access contacts in a connected Bluetooth phone by tracing them with a finger. The interface is also backed with voice recognition for those who prefer not to input this information digitally. The Audi A8 is also the first car to use Google Earth for navigation system mapping to give drivers a more realistic view of their surroundings.

In addition to these two technologies, the A8 is packed with other electronics that make it stand out even among large luxury sedans, where bells and whistles are the norm. These include a 1,400-watt, 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen advanced sound system with B&O trademark Acoustic Lens tweeters that pop up out of the dash and 10.2-inch video monitors attached to the back of the front seats that are part of an optional rear-seat entertainment system.

The Audi A8 also debuted with several safety technology firsts. The navigation system will scout out a route and make adjustments to the adaptive cruise control and adaptive headlights according to what the car encounters on the road. The A8 is also the first car with a rear collision-warning system.

For more on the 2011 Audi A8's tech arsenal, check out Inside Line's full Tech Review of the car.