Exclusive, ultra-luxurious and cutting edge: these are all terms easily applied to Audi’s flagship A8, and the latest update seeks to refine a proven formula
Audi has revealed its reinvigorated fourth-generation A8 large sedan that is set to arrive in Australia halfway through 2022.
Known internally as the ‘D5’, the current A8 remains the flagship vehicle of the Audi brand and the facelift seeks to improve in key areas such as comfort, entertainment and safety technology.
While Audi is yet to release the Australian specification for the A8, it is expected to return in both standard- and long-wheelbase form as well as the muscular S8 variant.
In the first major update seen since it was launched in 2017, the A8 has undergone subtle exterior changes including a new take on Audi’s Singleframe grille design that is widened and pushes out the lower corners for a more aggressive look.
It’s flanked by redesigned side air intakes and the digital Matrix LED headlights that are now more precise with 1.3 million micromirrors that allow, for example, the A8 to illuminate the lane in front of the driver without blinding construction workers on the side road.
Audi has fitted a new diffuser to the rear bumper design with a chrome lower design that imitates the exhaust pipes but without actually showing them.
Further up is the OLED tail-lights that feature two switchable designs and a third dynamic-focused appearance if you opt for the S8.
Along with a new look, the A8’s tail-light alert inattentive drivers by flashing quickly when another car comes within two metres of the A8 when stationary.
The rest of the exterior remains largely the same with the wheel choices offered from 18- to 21-inches in size with six new designs to pick from globally.
Audi has stretched the A8 18mm longer and now measures 5190mm, with the width (1950mm) height (1470mm) and wheelbase (3000mm) remaining roughly the same.
The dividends of this are paid in the seating comfort with the A8 L taking this sense of space further – measuring 140mm longer than the regular A8.
Buyers can option the relaxation seat package that adds a back massage function with 18 pneumatic cushions in the outboard seat with a foot warmer and an optional centre control console and even a fold-out table to help get work done on the fly.
Audi also includes dual 10.1-inch HD displays mounted on the back of the front seats that can be used for video calls, streaming a movie or playing music through the 23-speaker Bang and Olufsen sound system.
In the centre of the dash, Audi has stacked two displays measuring 10.1- and 8.6-inches in size with the driver looking onto a separate digital instrument cluster and a heads up display.
As standard, the interior is trimmed in Valcona leather but Audi has a wide range of options to choose from.
Audi is also now offering the A8 with the S Line pack that adds a unique grille design and lower air intakes, matched with sportier seats and a three-spoke steering wheel. The pre-facelift A8 was offered in Australia with an optional Sport package rather than the brand’s better-known S Line aesthetic.
Providing the limousine quality ride is the standard air suspension that works with the predictive active suspension system to control how much the car rolls and dips by adjusting each wheel with an electric motor.
The air suspension also raises the height of the A8 by up to 50mm to help people get in and out.
Audi has included a long list of safety features on the A8, including night vision function, a 360-degree camera, AEB with junction detection and safe exit assist to name a few.
With around 60 per cent of all A8s purchased in China, Audi said it was logical to design an A8 variant specifically for that market.
Audi has dressed the A8 L Horch in a distinctive appearance with a two-tone design, ‘H-crown’ rim design, a unique front grille and completed it with a Horch logo on the C pillar.
At 5450mm long the A8 L Horch is 130mm longer than the ‘regular’ A8 L with the majority of that room found in the rear seats, where Chinese buyers will find diamond-pattern leather seats and deep pile carpet.
The A8 and A8 L are available globally with a wide selection of largely twin-turbo V6-powered engine options paired with 48-volt mild-hybrid assistance.
Regardless of which option is selected, Audi pairs the engine to an eight-speed torque-converter automatic that feeds power through to the quattro all-wheel-drive system.
The A8 50 TDI, that is currently sold in Australia, continues to be powered by a 3.0-litre twin-turbo diesel V6 that produces an unchanged 210kW of power and 600Nm of torque.
Audi also offers the A8 55 TFSI that uses a twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 petrol producing 250kW/500Nm that can also be had as a plug-in hybrid, known as the A8 50 TFSI e, that adds an electric motor to boost outputs to 340kW/700N.
The manufacturer has yet to state an electric range claim, but the lithium-ion battery has grown to 14.4kWh of usable size, and should best its previous WLTP electric range claim of up to 47km.
As per tradition, the S8 takes the level of performance up a notch with a twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine making an unchanged 420kW/800Nm, and is capable of launching from 0-100km/h in 3.8 seconds despite its sheer size.
The S8 comes with a variable exhaust to dial up the sound when desired and all-wheel steering to make it more nimble. Buyers can also option ceramic brakes if they feel the need.
Engineers have stretched the S8 in both length and height to allow for more cabin space and the S8 is expected to echo similar styling changes to the A8.
The pre-facelift Audi S8 became one of a small number of vehicles to score 9.5/10 in rigorous Chasing Cars testing last year.
Official information on pricing and specification will be available midway through next year when the A8 is slated to launch.
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