2011 Audi A8 in Miami

If you roll through Miami within the next few days, you’re going to see a lot of art.

If you roll through Miami within the next few days, you’re going to see a lot of art. The 20th anniversary Art Miami event is being celebrated. And Art Basel Miami Beach is also underway.

If you roll through Miami almost anytime, particularly up and down Collins Avenue, you are likely to see lots of drop-dead gorgeous skin—yes, that kind of skin, as well as the bodywork of some of the most amazing vehicles on the planet, the Lambos and the Bugattis and the like.

If you roll out your luxury flagship model, then you just might do it in Miami. Which is what Audi, a sponsor of Design Miami (yes, this is going on, too), did with its third-generation A8.

As Rupert Stadler, chairman of the board of management of Audi AG, unambiguously stated to a group of artists (including Tom Dixon), patrons of the arts (notably Don and Mera Rubell) and more than a thousand journalists from around the world (including your autofieldblogger) as he stood on the stage of the Audi Pavilion, about a block north of one of the great Miami architectural icons, the Fontainebleau Hotel, “The U.S. is and will remain one of our key markets.”

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Indeed, the U.S. market is an important one for Audi, accounting for considerable sales of its upscale products, including the amazing R8 as well as the A8, as a total percentage of those cars sold around the world. In fact, Audi is gaining market share in the U.S., and the 2011 A8, which is to go on sale late next year, should help.

 

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The A8 not only the third generation of the car, which first went on the U.S. market in 1997 (it was available in Europe in 1994), but it is the third generation of the Audi Space Frame, the aluminum technology that Audi engineers have mastered. Compared with the current generation model (the “D3” A8, which has been available since 2004), there is a 25% increase in static torsional rigidity, resulting, in part, from newly developed welding technology.

While the company doesn’t have specific weight numbers for the car right now, the vehicle is bigger in all exterior dimensions compared with the outgoing model:

(inches)

LENGTH

WIDTH

HEIGHT

WHEELBASE

2011 all-new Audi A8

202.0

76.7

57.5

117.8

2004-2010 Audi A8/S8

199.3

74.6

56.9

115.9

What’s more, the car has new features and equipment, like an eight-speed automatic transmission, standard Quattro with a new asymmetric rear-biased torque split (40/60), and more. Yet even with more amenities, things which tend to increase the mass of cars, the 2011 A8 is expected to weigh approximately what the current model does. Because of the use of aluminum, the body of the A8 at present is just 474 lb. According to Stadler, if they’d built that body with steel, it would weight 40% more.

Overall, they anticipate the car being at least 200 lb. lighter than a Mercedes S Class AWD and more than 400 lb. lighter than a BMW 7 Series AWD.

The benefit of the aluminum is said to be evident in the dynamics of the vehicle, as it is more lithe, so while it is a senior sedan in some regards, it is said to be spritely and sporty, which, presumably, the 4.2-liter FSI V8, which provides 372 hp and 328 lb-ft of torque, has more than a little something to do with it, too.

So far we’ve seen the A8, surrounded by the beauty in Miami, surrounded by art from the hands of Tom Dixon and from the Rubell Family Collection, sitting static like sculpture. And beautiful sculpture it is, indeed.