Automakers are breaking with tradition these days. Where you might have once expected to see Audi unveil its next-generation flagship at a major auto show, the luxury brand is planning to reveal the all-new, 2018 A8 on the silver screen.
The automaker has already begun teasing the new sedan in a series of digital shorts, including one titled “Driver’s test,” but those who want a closer look at the A8 will have to pick up tickets for “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” the latest take on the classic Marvel comic, which web-swings into U.S. theaters on July 7th.
The 2018 Audi A8 will be a critical entry for Volkswagen AG’s luxury brand. It is the first product to feature the full new design language developed under Marc Lichte, the styling chief who joined the marque in 2014. The big sedan also introduces an assortment of new technologies, including the new Audi AI traffic jam pilot.
We get an advance look at that other A8 safety systems in the short features, including “Driver’s Test,” which features both comedian J.B. Smoove, and Tom Holland, the actor who portrays both Spider-Man and his alter ego, Peter Parker.
The Audi technologies are expected to take a step forward from current autopilot systems, like those offered in the BMW 7-Series and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. But Mercedes is also upping its game with the mid-cycle update of the big S-Class sedan coming to market later this year.
As for the look of the new A8, a teaser image sent out by Audi actually shows Spider-Man and a TT Roadster, not the new luxury sedan. But we’ve gotten some hints as to what’s coming from the two digital shorts and from a couple other recent Audi introductions.
That began with the debut of the aggressively sculpted Prologue Concept nearly two years ago, as well as the Q8 Concept that debuted at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier this year. A preview of the flagship SUV expected to debut for 2019, the Q8 Concept featured what Audi described as an “organically integrated” version of its familiar Singleframe grille. It’s both lower and, Audi points out, “considerably wider” than what’s featured on current models. The grille, meanwhile, is framed by a pair of slit-like LED headlamps.
A brief shot from “Driver’s Test” shows the A8 grille is in line with what we saw on the Q8.
(Click Here for a look at the electrifying Audi e-Tron Sportback.)
The new digital shorts, meanwhile, give a good hint of the next-generation Audi interior design language Lichte and his team have been working on. The German maker will adopt even more upscale materials and shift even more towards digital controls with relatively few conventional knobs and buttons. Like the Q8 Concept, expect to see a large head-up display system and a larger and more well-integrated central infotainment display system.
Known internally as the D5, the 2018 Audi A8 is based on a mostly aluminum version of Audi’s modular-longitudinal MLB Evo architecture.
As for powertrain options, there’ll be plenty of them, depending upon where in the world you live. Audi is set to go with everything from a turbocharged-four to a fully electric drivetrain – part of the big push by the luxury marque into alternative powertrain technologies. As for American buyers, there will be a base twin-turbo V-6, two turbocharged V-8s and a top-line twin-turbo package using the unusual Audi W-12 engine.
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We might yet see a diesel, as Audi’s U.S. brand boss, Scott Keogh, has not ruled out offering a few oil-burners in the States, unlike the Volkswagen brand which is walking away from that technology in the wake of its diesel emissions scandal. The electric package might also make it across the Atlantic at some point.
Audi will face some significant challenges with the new A8, including the updated Mercedes S-Class. But it also has to face dramatic shifts in the luxury market, buyers increasingly opting for SUVs and CUVs, just like mainstream customers. That’s why Audi is rushing to bring out the production version of the Q8 which, many analysts believe, could wind up outselling the A8 sedan.
(New 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class adding lots of new autonomous technology. Click Here for the story.)