When the all-new fourth-generation Audi A8 makes its global debut at the Audi summit in Barcelona on July 11, it will be the first flagship car in the company's history to come in hybrid form as standard.
In the weeks leading up to the car's reveal, Audi has already confirmed that its new car will boast industry-leading semi-autonomous driving capabilities and that it will be overflowing with connected services, hence selecting Barcelona -- Europe's most connected and 'smartest' city -- as the venue for its introduction.
But now we also know that the car will boast an innovative 48-volt mild hybrid system as standard, regardless of engine choice.
This might not sound like a particularly electrifying piece of news, but the system will automatically remove bottom- and top-end strain from the engine -- ie when starting up the car in the morning or when quickly standing on the accelerator -- as the electric motor will be stepping in in those instances and turning the engine over directly.
It will also be able to coast -- with the engine shut off completely -- at speeds of up to 160km/h for up to 40 seconds at a time, meaning that it will be traveling at highway speeds but without consuming any fuel, as the hybrid's batteries will be keeping the car's critical systems running without needing to draw engine power.
The hybrid system also works in concert with the car's proximity sensors and its fuel-saving stop-start function so that it knows when it can cut the engine (for example when rolling up to traffic lights on red, even at speeds of up to 22km/h) and how quickly and smoothly it should restart. If the car in front is very close, then the engine fires up slowly and gently, but if the coast is clear, things come on line much more rapidly.
But the most impressive thing about the system is that all of these little economizing features when added together shave an average of 0.7l/100km/h off the car's fuel consumption. And when one considers that the A8 is usually specified with an eight- or 12-cylinder engine, that's a potentially huge fuel savings and reduction in emissions.