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Roadshow Video Reviews
2011 Audi A8Audi's flagship raises the bar for tech in cars.
The call cars like these flagships for a reason. They represent just about everything a carmaker knows how to do and in this case, that's a lot. Let's jumping out this 2011 A8, block out a few hours and check the tech. The 2011 A8 is the third complete redesign of the big Audi and big is the first thought that comes to mind, especially with that big chrome cow catcher upfront. But work your way around the car and to my eye, this is the tidiest A8 by about a mile. Now, the 2011 A8, going forward, has the potential to reset the bar what a high tech car is. And largently, they shipped us one that is kind of devoid of some feature, but we'll use the magic romper room mirror to pretend to see them. However, a lot of stuff is standard including this crowd pleaser, the pop up screen that goes along with those pop up acoustic lenses from banging all us and if they're on the dash. This is Audi's new MMI look, this sort of rings of Saturn [unk] where you rotate around the different functions in many cases. Let's start with navigation. Great-looking map and screen, great representation of traffic, of your route, where you are, you can do 3D, you can do 2D. The detail here is tremendous on this system because they have such great rendering of cities and such. Audi has always been way out in front on that. And when she stopped owing an eye over the topography and the 3D buildings and all the great rendering of traffic. Let's look at some of the functionality. It's very interesting here. If I wanna enter an address, things are pretty routine. I can use this little wheel and I can click and turn and that's all pretty obvious. But let's see I don't wanna type any with the click wheel. I wanna write it in. I can do that right here on this pad and it'll tell what the things I wrote. Now, is that less distracting that any other interface while you're driving? I don't think so, but it sure is clever. Radio sources are AM, FM, HD radio, serious satellite radio. On the media front we've got a jukebox. You can rip music to the hard drive, not video, though. Here's my SD card selection. I have 1 in one of the 2 slots there. DVD, CD, all that playback through our single slots here. Then, we get down to the AMI. Here is why I get a real gripe with this car. It's not plugged in yet, but when you wanna use it you plug it that into that port right there. You have 1 port and you go by different pigtails from Audi that go to whatever you want. The problem is and the problem with this kind of an architecture is you've got of a proprietary Audi cable. I bet it's not cheap to replace, but for example, if I try and plug it in to this iPhone 4 with the Apple official bumper around it, guess what? It doesn't work. Now, here on the tone panel we get into a very controversial area in my mind, the banging all of sound systems, that's an option on this car, even on this car because it cost, if I'm not mistaken, $6000. That's a hell of lot of money for an Audio upgrade and I am not hearing it. Yeah, it sounds great, but so do a variety of other systems out there that are premium sound for $1000 to $2000 max. Now, Audi has got something called the Audi Parking System, which isn't really a parking system, it's a rear view camera, which is nice, but it doesn't park the car. I think in this day and age you better park the car if you're gonna call it a parking system because you're gonna look silly, otherwise. But what we have though is a nice array of sensors front rear with a very good intelligence about what they're seeing and how far away it is. You can switch between those in the rear view camera and you can switch the camera between 2 different mode whether you're coming in parallel or coming in side by side on the car and you're backing out. In this car, GPS doesn't just make the nav work; it also gets called in to adjust the highlights for curves ahead, adjust the drive train behavior for a great ahead and even help the cruise control work because it knows what the lanes are like ahead. Speaking of magic out of thin air, this car offers factory access to the club, a built-in 3G radio and wi-fi hotspot will be on the option sheet, which has never been offered from a factory on a car sold in the U.S. until now. Now, after all those blockbusters, the available dual 10-inch rear seat entertainment system seems almost pedestrian. Okay, to the engine bay. Now, by today's standard, this is actually fairly garden variety stuff; a 4.2 liter dual overhead cam direct injection. How on earth do they make it that smooth V8? 372 horsepower, 328 foot pounds of torque, 0 to 60 [unk] and 5.7 seconds. This car weighs 4400-or-so pounds. The fuel economy is actually quite good; 17-city, but 27-highway, again, for a big car moving at a good clip. That characteristic clicking you hear there doesn't get into the engine bay that is the direct injection injectors doing their things. This big boy drives exactly the way I wanted to: smooth, tout, and forceful, not crazy with sporting pretensions, silent and smooth like a tomb. Only Audi can nail that just right. With ample power, good instincts, but literally known noise vibrational harshness and this or any of their cars, I mean thy own that whole silky smooth dialed-in thing. This car is super comfortable, I don't know if I mention 22-way adjustable seats. In the 3 days I have this car, I don't think I found more than 12 ways to adjust them, so there is ample stuff to play with including multiple massage mode. If I to choose between an LS from Lexus, the 7 Series, an S Class, or an A8, I would go with the A8. It's the right balance of luxury, sports, understated looks and elegance, good cabin technology, and the price is about where everybody is in this class. Now, the new 88 does not arrive in showrooms until November of 2010, so pricing is not set as of our shoot today. Now, if you wanna go full CNET style here are the tech toys, you can go over that [unk] those sound systems if you wanna be a sucker $6000 is likely to be price and I just don't get it. There is a solar sunroof option that will run blowers and ventilation to keep the car cool when it's park. Rear seat entertainment is another all a cart option. Beyond that, this guy comes pretty much equipped as we've shown it. A lot of tech here and you can have a lot more.