Driving Aids, LED Lights, And Camera Assistance
In addition to all of the luxury inside of Audi's A8L, our test car also came equipped with the Driver Assistance package that includes adaptive cruise control with stop & go, side assist, lane assist, and pre sense plus technologies. The adaptive cruise control with stop & go automatically maintains a safe following distance behind the car in front of you. It relies on two radar sensors installed where you typically find fog lights, and a camera mounted in front of the rear-view mirror.
As its name suggests, the system can take Audi's A8L to a complete stop and accelerate again with the press of a button or the gas pedal. Adaptive cruise control is one of our favorite technologies, and Audi's implementation works just the way it should, making stop-and-go traffic far less stressful. We consider this a must-have feature.
Audi calls its blind spot monitoring technology side assist, but it’s no different than competing systems. There are radar sensors mounted on the back of the car that detect vehicles up to about 230 feet away. The A8L’s warning system is the best we’ve seen, though. Rather than utilizing a small indicator in the side mirror, Audi installs a cluster of LEDs inside its side mirrors. When the system detects a car in the blind spot, it flashes a quick blink that isn’t even noticeable unless you look for it. When you put on your turn signal and a vehicle is detected, however, the light flashes very brightly to catch your attention. It'd be pretty hard to miss in that case, even if you weren't looking.
We typically don't like lane departure warning systems because they're frankly obnoxious with the random dings and beeps. Fortunately, the A8L's lane assist technology is the least-obnoxious one we've ever tested. It relies on a camera mounted in front of the rear-view mirror to read lane markings. When you start to drift, the steering wheel vibrates a bit to warn you. Only the driver is alerted, and your passengers aren't left wondering why the vehicle is beeping. Despite this more subtle approach, I still don't like warning systems very much. I'd rather have an active system that automatically keeps the A8L in its lane. Audi has such a technology, but only offers it on the A6, A7, and flagship A8L W12.
The last feature in Audi's driver assistance package is the pre sense system, which is used for accident prevention. Audi implements three tiers of pre sense: front, rear, and plus. Our A8L came with the full pre sense plus system that does any and everything to prevent an accident or limit injury.
Say you're driving on snow or ice and slam on the brakes. There's no traction, so the vehicle skids and the stability control sensors are going crazy. Audi's pre sense system evaluates the situation and can turn on the hazard lights, roll up the window, close the sunroof, and apply tension to the seat belts before engaging the brakes to stop the car safely or slow it down enough to turn a major event into something less severe. I managed to trigger the pre sense warning systems a couple of times during my week with the A8L, but never tried pushing it to the point where it'd fully activate. This is one of those features you want to assume works the way Audi says.
The A8L's LED headlights are simply amazing. They're odd-looking if you're accustomed to projector or halogen lamps, but they perform fantastically. Audi employs an array of 10 LEDs, each with its own projector. As a result, you get one of the brightest headlights we've ever used. A sharp cut-off keeps drivers ahead of you from being blinded, too. Audi charges $1300 for its LED headlight option, and I say this is something you absolutely have to add.
Camera Assistance Package
We love 360-degree camera systems, and the A8L delivers. This is a big car, and I appreciated a top-down view as I tried to park it. The stitched picture employs multiple cameras placed around the car, and there's a curb view as well. Parking sensors further facilitate pro parking jobs with warning beeps to indicate proximity. This is another feature that every large luxury car should include standard. Audi charges $750 for the option, and I consider it to be worth every penny.