What do you do when you’re a car manufacturer, you’ve set a launch date for your new flagship vehicle; but you want to show off some of its more intricate details beforehand, without taking the steam out of the launch? You invite selected journalists out to a non-descript warehouse, give them an hour with the car and blindfold them, obviously…

MenStyleFashion were one of the fortunate few to be flown out to Ingolstadt in Germany and given the honour of ‘blind tasting’ Audi’s new A8 before its official launch next week. Located a stone’s throw from Audi’s Ingolstadt headquarters, the venue for the tasting was an unassuming warehouse building away from prying eyes. Electronic devices were swiftly confiscated before the car could be viewed, its headlights ablaze, under the cover of a translucent sheet. No more of the cars visual appearance would be revealed and as the blindfold was applied, the one hour blind taste commenced.

Let The Tasting Commence

With visual senses firmly blocked off; touch, smell and aural interaction were the order of the day. Audi employees from key areas were on hand to guide us through the various elements of the car, with the ‘tour’ starting at the A8’s nose. Focusing on touch to begin with, it became immediately obvious the new A8 is no soft-edged sedan, with strong, defined lines suggesting an aggressive and focused appearance. The headlamps allow themselves to be identified with a gentle warmth radiating from them. Initial impressions are of detail, and considerable attention to it.

Following the A8’s ‘quattro’ line along the side, the next stage of the tour sees us taking a seat in the back ready for our first taste of the car’s interior qualities. Legroom feels generous, and after minor adjustments the seat fits like a glove. Equipped with a new Bang & Olufsen sound system, the audio demonstration far exceeded expectations and will take some serious beating. Leaving the car without the use of sight proves a little more tricky than expected, but is made somewhat easier by the gloriously crafted handles that unlatch the doors with that gentle pop synonymous with premium German cars.

Moving Around The Car

Moving around the car, the various body lines can be felt merging into the rear, with the light cluster again feeling full of detail. The alloy wheels are large and it takes a while to figure out where the centre of the wheel is, with spokes and shapes aplenty – the temptation for a visual peek at this point is high! The tour moves on, this time into the driver’s seat; sadly this is as close as we get to driving the new A8, although that’s understandable considering the blind fold was never removed.

Yet again Audi have managed to position everything impeccably, with all the controls placed exactly where our hands fell naturally. It’s here that the touchy-feely side of things goes into overdrive, with various ‘levels’ of the dashboard and doors clad in differing materials and textures. Wood, aluminium, glass, leather and alcantara are all present and create some serious stimulation for our fingers.

One of our favourite details from the surrounding area was the different styles of stitching used for the leather and alcantara.

Courser stitching is used on the dashboard, adding greater definition and separation to the various levels, whilst parts such as the steering wheel use a softer, more subtle stitching for greater driving comfort. This is a detail which, had it not been for the removal of our sight, would (shamefully) have been lost on us, yet it’s an area Audi have clearly put considerable thought into.

The centre console and dash binnacle feel like an expansive area of glass (presumably displays), with only a small handful of buttons or control knobs distinguishable. With the Audi engineer on hand to call up the correct menu, it was possible to quite literally ‘hand’ write destination names on the glass  we can only imagine how cool this must be when visible. Another neat feature is the haptic feedback, which means the ‘glass area’ feels like it actually clicks when virtual buttons are pressed – incredibly neat and very satisfying.

Final Thoughts

Audi certainly served up a unique experience with the A8 blind tasting, and one that we enjoyed thoroughly. It’s fair to say it made us (excuse the pun) open our eyes to areas of the car we’d potentially have overlooked otherwise. If we had to summarise the experience in one word, we would return to our initial impression: detail. Audi have obviously worked extremely hard on the new A8, with the excitement and enthusiasm of their engineers audible during the experience.

All we can say is this we can’t wait to see it. Audi certainly succeeded in whetting our appetite. See you very soon #weshowyouhow in the A8.

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