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2011 Audi A8 (photos)

As its flagship sedan, Audi builds a lot of technology into the A8. Not only does it feature extensive and useful cabin tech, but its performance tech lets this big sedan drive like a much smaller car.

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Wayne_Cunningham.jpg

Wayne Cunningham

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1 of 28 Josh Miller/CNET
The A8 is Audi's flagship model, a luxury sedan designed to be either owner or chauffeur driven. For 2011, Audi significantly updated the car, refining the exterior, improving the cabin tech, and giving it new performance tech.
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Audi enhances the look of the A8's signature grille by decreasing the bumper and hood lines around it. The cross pieces also get a more geometrical design, making the whole piece stand out more.
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The A8 uses LED headlights, currently a rare feature in cars. These lights use less electricity than conventional lamps, and last much longer.
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The 4.2-liter direct-injection V-8 under the hood generates 372 horsepower and 328 pound-feet of torque, enough to get the car to 62 mph in 5.7 seconds.
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Audi modernized the body of the A8 by smoothing it out, limiting the contour lines. But it also added a small C pillar window behind the rear side window, which makes the rear look ready for VIP passengers.
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This car came with an air suspension, letting us adjust it between comfort and dynamic settings. Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive is standard.
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The trunk is not as spacious as we would expect, but the trunk lid is designed to allow very easy access, opening all the way up toward the rear window.
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Audi improved the cabin of the A8 immeasurably over the previous generation, decreasing hard plastic surfaces in favor of leather, metal, and wood.
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Ambient lighting strips run along the ceiling, subtle enough not to impinge on the luxury feel of this car.
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Audi uses an adjustable steering system that palpably changes in feel when the car is switched between Comfort and Dynamic modes.
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The tachometer's light-up redline changes position depending on engine temperature. The fuel and temperature gauges also use light bars to indicate their level.
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The center display shows a variety of information, including route guidance.
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With the buttons on the steering wheel and the instrument cluster display, you can choose music from a connected iPod or other music source.
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Audi calls its shifter the yacht lever, as it resembles the throttle lever on a power boat. Transmission control is completely electronic, and the shifter slides easily through its positions.
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Audi's usual MMI controller sits in the center of the console, but the company added a trackpad next to it, which can be used for radio presets or to trace letters for navigation input.
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Even with our lousy penmanship, the car recognized this as an E.
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Once the car recognizes an input, it normalizes the letter or number, and reads it back to you.
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Many of the menus in the A8 use this ellipse style menu. The main menu contains entries for the navigation, audio, and phone systems.
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Drive Select lets you choose between Comfort and Dynamic settings for the car's steering, suspension, and throttle response.
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Audi has the most detailed 3D maps of any car company, although this amount of rendering is only done in some downtown areas.
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Audi has one of the best phone systems in the business. It supports dial-by-name voice command.
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A hatch covers the CD/DVD player and two SD card slots.
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Audi offers all the digital music sources you could want, including iPod integration, an onboard hard drive, and the aforementioned SD card slots.
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The onboard hard drive, which Audi calls the Jukebox, can store about 3,000 tracks.
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The disc player can handle DVDs, showing them on the front screen when parked, or on rear screens with an optional rear-seat entertainment system.
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Audi's backup camera system includes trajectory lines and distance.
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These controls on the side of the seat activate a massage system.
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There are five different massage options.

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