2019 Audi A8 L is more comfortable and luxurious than ever – CNET

The future-ready 2019 Audi A8 L is packed to its gills with new technology. From the upcoming autonomous features to the new infotainment to the impressive active performance tech, I’ve already dug deep and geeked out about almost everything that’s new and noteworthy. But the A8 isn’t just more high-tech than before; it’s also more comfortable and luxurious than ever.

So, I’ve rounded up six, in no particular order, of the most luxurious finishing touches that make the A8′s cabin a more pleasant place to be while you drive or are being driven.

Reclining rear seats with foot massager

Here in the States, the only A8 models we’ll get are the longer wheelbase A8 L variants. (In Europe, the A8 comes in standard and long flavors.) The extra 5.1 inches (130 millimeters) of wheelbase translates directly to an equivalent amount of extra legroom for second row passengers and larger rear door openings for easier ingress and egress.

To best take advantage of the extra space, the 2019 A8 L can be equipped with reclining rear lounge seats with heated and ventilated surfaces. With the buckets tilted back, there’s enough room to cross a leg and settle in while optional in-seat massagers with multiple programs pamper the passengers.

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A rear passenger can enjoy a warming foot rub by pressing their tootsies into the front seat back.


Audi

However, the best seat in the house is on the rear passenger side. If the front passenger seat is unoccupied, that bucket can be tilted and slid forward to open up even more room for the back seat passenger to stretch out. An ottoman folds down and out of the front seat’s back revealing a hidden and heated foot massager. Just press your feet into the seat back and aaaahhh… 

Detachable display for rear seat passengers

Rear seat passengers interact with the A8′s cabin tech, climate controls and seat adjustments with a smartphone-sized display tucked into the center armrest. From this screen, the driver can take command of the MMI infotainment and media sources up front, control the optional rear seat entertainment system if equipped and more.

The reach to that screen can be a stretch when fully reclined, so Audi made the display detachable. Simply push a small button beneath the display and the Rear Seat Remote pops out for handheld use, retaining all of its functionality via a wireless connection to the car’s MMI infotainment. Now, you can customize the level of your foot and back massages without straining.

The wireless display disables when the car is turned off and has a fairly limited connection range, so don’t go trying to use it outside the car. I’m unsure of how long it can be used remotely, but it recharges when dropped back into place.

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The rear touch display can be detached, granting reclining rear passengers control of a variety of vehicle functions without the need to reach.


Audi

Matrix LED Reading Lights

The rear seat moves forward and aft as it goes from upright to reclined. If you’re reading your Kindle or a book, your text might move outside the cast of a regular reading light. Rather than expecting its passengers to reach up and adjust their illumination like plebs, Audi took the Matrix LED technology in its most sophisticated headlamps, scaled it down and installed it in the A8 L’s ceiling.

With the HD Matrix LED Reading Lights, passengers adjust the aim of their reading by swiping around the center console touch display. You don’t even have to reach for it. And there are no moving parts; individual LEDs in a grid are dimmed and lit to adjust the direction and shape of the spot reading light.

That seems a bit excessive for a simple reading light, but it’s also very cool.

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Using the same tech as Audi’s HD Matrix LED headlamps, the reading lights can be aimed by rear passengers for optimal illumination.


Audi

Active noise cancellation

From the driver’s seat, I marveled at how quiet the Audi A8 could be. It’s powered by a smooth and quiet V6 powerplant that rarely rises above a hum when accelerating, even when heard from curbside.

The A8 further isolates passengers from unwanted road and wind noise with a combination of passive sound insulation and active noise cancellation. The latter uses microphones hidden around the body and speakers around the cabin to actively cancel out noise with inverse sound waves.

A quiet cabin is a relaxing cabin. It allows those onboard to enjoy the delicate 3D surround audio from the Bang & Olufsen audio system, plus it reduces stress and creates a better environment for foot rubs.

Haptic feedback on the MMI Touch Response screens

Up until now, I’ve focused on the back seats, but the 2019 Audi A8 L boasts a few new niceties for the driver. I particularly enjoyed the feel of the new MMI Touch Response system.

The new dual screen setup eschews most of its physical controls in favor of virtual buttons and sliders on a touch display. A few physical bits are kept around, such as the volume knob and steering wheel controls. However, I really like the feel of actual buttons. Audi somewhat compensates for this by adding haptic feedback to its touchscreens.

So, when I tapped a virtual button to activate cooling ventilation in the seats, the screen gives ever so slightly and responds with a tactile “click” from vibration motors hidden within. This not only feels good, but also lets me know my tap was registered, so I can get my eyes back on the road. It’s a small, ahem, touch that makes a big difference.

Phone unlock and start

The 2019 Audi A8 takes another small step toward the keyless car with its Audi connect phone unlock feature.

With the Audi connect app installed on a handset with NFC (near field communication), the phone becomes the car’s key. Simply tap the device to the door’s handle to unlock or lock access. Drop the handset into the center console to unlock the ignition and go. As a nice bonus, wireless Qi charging in the console makes sure your phone is juiced up along the way.

That’s just scratching the surface. Your Audi connect profile stores “over 400 parameters” about you, from your preferred driver’s seat position to air conditioning settings. Your profile includes favorite destinations and media and so much more. There should be no more fumbling with getting the car back where you like it after someone else drives it; the car will know you as soon as you tap in. (Of course, a profile can also be assigned to a more traditional key fob for those not ready to go full phone.)

Those so inclined can also temporarily share access to their A8 via the Audi connect app. For example, if a relative is coming to visit, you can grant them phone access to the car for a few days and then revoke that access remotely when they leave; and you’ll never have to worry about them misplacing your keys.

Check out our full review of the 2019 Audi A8 L for even more photos and video, driving impressions and information about its myriad of cabin and autonomous tech.

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