INGOLSTADT -- Audi will unveil its new A8 flagship in Spain in the summer ahead of its sales launch later this year. The sedan will have advanced autonomous driving technology and will mark the start of a new styling direction for the brand.
The A8's Level 3 autonomous function will let the car take over driving in heavy traffic on highways at speeds of up to 60 kph (37 mph).
The A8 will be able to drive autonomously in countries where it is legally allowed, CEO Rupert Stadler told journalists here last month.
The A8's Level 3 feature, called "conditional automation" by the Society of Automotive Engineers, means drivers can take their eyes off the road to do other tasks but must still be prepared to take control when needed.
Other advanced features on the sedan will be a new operating system that Audi says will be highly intuitive and use "ground-breaking" computing power.
The A8's central driver assistance controller, known as zFAS and supplied by Delphi following development with Audi will be the brains behind all the driver control functions and enable the automated driving. It will also eventually wirelessly send information about driving styles to a cloud server to help Audi improve the automated functions.
The new A8 will mark the beginning of a new styling direction that was primarily shaped by Audi design chief Marc Lichte, Audi said in its 2016 annual report released last month. It will borrow design cues from the Prologue concept first seen at the 2014 Los Angeles auto show.
Audi will continue to build the A8 at its factory in Neckarsulm, Germany. The company has installed new halls for parts assembly and a new body shop for the sedan.
The A8's body shell will comprise four different materials - steel, aluminum, magnesium and carbon fiber - for the first time, Audi said in a statement. Despite the use lightweight components, the sedan's weight will increase because of its new technology, reports said. Audi did not give details of the new A8's weight.