Being that the world just saw its first glimpse of the new 2018 Audi A8, we can’t speculate on how it drives. No one can, as no one has driven it yet. So there’s simply no way of knowing whether or not it’s good enough to take on its main competitors, the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. However, we can talk about its looks and its cabin design and how they compare to its closest rivals. While the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is the segment leader in sales, the BMW 7 Series is the next newest car in the segment, so we figured it most fair to start there.
In terms of exterior design, the Audi A8 is certainly the more understated of the two cars. With its crisp lines and subtle curves, it’s more modern and minimalist than the BMW 7 Series. By comparison, the Bimmer is muscular and aggressive, despite those not being the first two adjectives that would otherwise come to mind about the 7 Series. But compared to the A8, the 7 Series is damn-near exotic. That’s not to say the A8 is bad but it is very simple and modern looking. The 7 Series is more visually interesting.
From the front, though, I personally like the Audi A8 better. It’s sharper headlights and massive grille make it a bit more imposing and aggressive looking than the 7 Series. I’m still not sold on the new 7er’s headlight design and its grilles are awkwardly large without looking stately. The Audi A8 looks sharp and high-tech while the 7 Series just looks a bit “bleh”. That’s about where the A8’s exterior victories end, though.
From the rear, it’s a bit tough for me, personally, as I’m not in love with either. The Audi A8’s new light-bar is kind of cool but the way the headlights droop down from it make it seem as if it’s melting. Plus, it sort of looks like a Lincoln Continental. But the Bimmer’s bottom is not much better, to be fair. Those taillights look a bit messy and the way the rear deck sort of drops off just looks a bit off to me. I can’t really pick one I like more because both cars look their worst from behind. But if I had to, it’d be the BMW.
On the inside, I like the Audi A8. It’s design is fresh, modern and high-tech. It looks like something out of Minority Report and that’s cool. There’s just something slick and advanced about it, even without its fancy touchscreens. The horizontal lines, that funky steering wheel and the lovely open-pore wood look cool, to these eyes at least. The 7 Series’ cabin is a very nice place to be, with incredibly rich materials, superb seats and superb build quality. But because we can’t tell what the Audi A8 is like to sit in just yet, we can only go off of design, here. And the 7 Series’ unfortunately, is quite bland. Sure, its iDrive system is absolutely brilliant and we don’t know if Audi’s new touchscreens will work well, but we’re just factoring in design aesthetics.
In the back seats, I’m also taking the Audi and really only for one reason — the touchscreen tablet controller. Both have incredibly opulent rear seats with screens and many fancy toys. They both even look pretty similar. So the deciding factor here is the that cool touchscreen tablet that tilts upward toward the driver in the Audi A8. It looks more premium and far more interesting than BMW’s setup, as good as it is.
Overall, I think the Audi A8 is the better looking car, despite the 7 Series probably being better looking in most exterior areas, especially in M Sport trim. But the Audi A8 has a nicer looking cabin, front to back, and its face is a bit better looking. The 7er is better looking in profile and probably has the better looking rear end but that’s where its victories end. So the Audi A8 takes the win, here.