AUDI HAS revealed an updated version of its flagship A8 luxury saloon featuring a mild styling refresh, upgraded tech, an improvement to its plug-in hybrid powertrains and an ultra-luxury limo version for the Chinese market.
The front end is where the majority of the restyling work has taken place as the ‘singleframe’ grille is now wider than before and the air intakes reworked. The LED matrix headlights have been upgraded too, with each unit now containing 1.3 million digital micro-mirrors, which help to project light further and more accurately in dark conditions.
At the rear, the organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) are new, and owners can customise the light signature to their preference. If another vehicle approaches a stationary A8 from behind, all the OLED segments light-up as a warning.
In addition to the new styling elements, a couple of exterior trim packages are available, including a chrome pack for extra sparkle, and for the first time on an A8, an S Line package that adds some of the sportier design cues of the S8 model without the associated 563bhp performance and price tag.
The interior’s headline feature isn’t found in the standard wheelbase A8, but in the longer A8 L. The “relaxation seat” allows those in the back to recline while having the bottoms of their feet warmed and massaged. Eighteen pneumatic cushions can deliver a back massage too, while four-zone automatic air conditioning keeps the temperature just so.
On the continuous centre console in the rear sits an infotainment system controller about the size of a smartphone; that console can be optioned with a fold-out table and a cooler for keeping drinks cold. Another luxury option for rear-seat passengers is a pair of 10.1-inch HD entertainment screens mounted on the backs of the front seats.
For those who would prefer to drive their own A8 rather than being chauffeured, the cockpit is almost totally digital with both a screen for the instrument cluster and another two screens for the infotainment and interior controls.
As before, powering the A8 is a range of petrol, diesel and hybrid powertrains.
A pair of turbocharged 3-litre V6 petrol and diesel engines form the foundation of the engine options while a 4-litre petrol V8 is available in other A8 and S8 models.
In the S8, that 4-litre twin-turbo engine has been tuned to send 563bhp to all four wheels, allowing it sprint from 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds. While the S8 is available in Europe in short wheelbase form, the only S8 sold in markets such as the United States, China and South Korea will be a long wheelbase (the front and rear axles are pushed further apart) version. As the crown of the A8 line-up, it gets enhanced mechanicals such as active suspension, a sport differential and all-wheel steering as standard.
While all the engines use 48V mild-hybrid technology, two plug-in hybrid versions are also available. The A8 60 TFSI e quattro and the A8 L 60 TFSI e quattro both combine a 3-litre petrol engine with an electric motor and 14.4kWh battery pack to deliver 456bhp, which is more capacity and power than in previous A8 plug-in hybrid models.
Audi hasn’t yet given a battery-only range figure for the A8 plug-in hybrid but given the improvements to the system it’s expected to be more than the previous version’s 30 miles or so. Maximum AC charging speed is 7.4kW, which is roughly what most home wallboxes deliver.
With the latest A8 revealed a few days before this month’s Guangzhou Auto Show, it’s clear that Audi sees a sizeable portion of its A8 output being sold in China. Notwithstanding the larger grille — preferred in Asian markets — Audi has also announced an ultra-luxury China-only Horch version of the A8, named after August Horch, Audi’s founder. The Horch gets an even more imposing grille and more exterior chrome detailing while inside thicker pile carpets and quilted leather seats provide an extra touch of exclusivity. The “relaxation seat” is, of course, standard.
The upgraded A8 goes on sale in the UK on December 2, with a starting price of £73,375.
- After reading that Audi reveals updated A8 with styling refresh, upgraded tech and improved hybrid powertrains, you might be interested to hear about a new entry-level Audi R8 V10 Performance RWD gets 562bhp and £126,885 price tag
- Watch Ken Block’s first job with Audi is to drive the 700bhp RS 002 secret rally prototype
- Or check out the elegant Audi Grandsphere concept car that previews self-driving future, with 711bhp
- And take a look at our review of the A8’s chief rival, the new Mercedes S-Class