Measuring 130mm longer than the A8 L, the Horch is a love letter to Audi’s loyal Chinese customers and hints at a potential future ultra-luxury nameplate for its future models
Audi has unveiled the A8 L Horch that will be available exclusively in the Chinese market and hints at a potential ultra-luxurious sub-brand to compete with Stuttgart’s Mercedes-Maybach division.
The Chinese market has made up over 60 percent of the sales for the fourth-generation A8, prompting Audi to build a separate variant more targeted at this audience.
At 5450mm long the Horch stretches 130mm further than the long-wheelbase A8 – known as the A8 L – that translates directly into more legroom in the two rear seats complete with longer doors for an easier entry and egress.
Inside, designers have trimmed the interior with an expanded diamond quilting pattern and deep-pile carpet that sits just above the footwarmer.
To better suit Chinese tastes, the A8 L Horch has a modified exterior design with a unique vertical grille design along with more chrome touches on the mirrors and C pillar – that is finished with the Horch crown.
Rear occupants are able to make video calls and stream movies thanks to the dual 10.1-inch touchscreens that can be controlled via the shared touch-pad command centre on the armrest.
It builds on other luxurious touches including a unique wheel design, two-tone colour choice, panoramic sunroof and a fridge between the rear seats.
Unlike key rivals such as the Bentley Flying Spur and Mercedes-Maybach S680 the A8 is not offered with a 12-cylinder engine, and instead makes use of a range of twin-turbo V6s as well as a performance-oriented V8 option.
The name ‘Horch’ pulls from deep within Audi’s history and refers to August Horch who founded the Horch brand that carried in namesake in 1904, before he was forced out and went on to found the Audi brand in 1910.
The Horch brand was well-known for making high quality and durable vehicles – but was ultimately merged into what we know today as Audi.
At the launch of the facelifted A8 earlier this week, Audi remained tight-lipped on whether the Horch-branded model would be the first of many from the German brand.
If rolled out worldwide as a higher spec sub-brand for Audi’s flagship vehicles – such as the A8 limousine but also for the Q7 and Q8 large SUVs – it would provide Audi with a direct competitor to Mercedes’ Maybach sub-brand.
The Maybach brand was resurrected in its current form in 2015 with several vehicles based on the W222 S-Class and has now launched an expanded lineup of vehicles based on the latest W223 generation S-Class and the GLS large SUV.
While the high-tier A8 L Horch will allow Audi to capitalise on its sales momentum in China, the decision to roll it out globally could cannibalise sales of its sister brand Bentley that already offers an established line-up of cars and SUVs in the ultra-luxury segment.
Time will tell if the Horch brand is rolled out across Audi’s global range but if the aforementioned high-tier limousine is a success, it’s likely the Horch badge will expand.
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