by Noah Kravitz

I knew this would be a good trip when I was picked up from Mccarran Airport in an Audi A8 wrapped in co-branded Audi/NVIDIA graphics. Since there were three of us getting rides from the airport to our hotel, I wound up in the front passenger’s seat. Next thing I knew, I was adjusting the in-seat massage options by way of the center-stack touchscreen and side-of-seat controls. Gotta love technology, especially when I can fiddle with it while someone else drives.

NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang drove a 2011 Audi A8L onto the stage this morning to join Audi executives in their CES keynote address (The Audi folks themselves had already made their grand entrance in an eTron Spyder concept car). Huang and Audi Chariman Rupert Stadler talked about the future of in-car multimedia systems – MMI, in the German carmaker’s parlance – powered by NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 chips. While NVIDIA technology is already revving up infotainment systems in existing Audi vehicles, the tech shown off during the keynote was concept stage, including a dashboard with 3D imagery showing vital car information. Huang also talked about the current A8L’s technological prowess, including Google connectivity and mobile hotspot capabilities.

Check out mobile blogger and car geek extraordinaire Will Park’s coverage of the keynote on IntoMobile for details and photos of the eTron, A8L, and more.

The NVIDIA/Audi action at CES wasn’t limited to the lucky few onstage at keynotes and, ahem, rollin’ large down the Vegas Strip in the official show vehicles. NVIDIA’s show floor booth features an 2011 Audi A8L, the company’s flagship luxury sedan. Beyond the massaging front passenger seat and heated rear seats (I sat in the back this morning going from the hotel to convention center), the A8L is tricked out to the nines with state-of-the-art automotive tech designed to make driving better for the driver, and riding more enjoyable for the passengers. As obvious as that sounds, it’s important to remember: car technology should enhance the driver’s ability to pilot the vehicle and make the ride more entertaining for passengers, and not the other way around, right?

But back to the specs. I give you the 2011 Audi A8L:

  • Longitudinally mounted 4.2 liter DOHC V8 engine with FSI direct injection
  • 372 horsepower @ 6800 rpm
  • 328 lb-ft of torque @ 3500 rpm
  • 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds (Audi estimated)
  • Top speed: 130 mph
  • Quattro permanent all-wheel drive

And a list of standard and optional features way too long to list here. Including, is it true? – “Seat massage for rear seats.” Wait, did I miss the rear seat massage when I rode to the show this morning, or was that car a standard A8 and not an A8L? I think I’m going to have to investigate this a little more … now where’s the number for the car service?