Audi announced revisions to its flagship A8 sedan Tuesday, with styling updates and model revisions. While the changes are the sort one would expect, none are radical enough to pull the model out of the sales cellar.
Audi did not say when the car would reach the U.S. market, nor did it announce pricing.
Full year U.S. sales of the Audi A8 amounted to 2,376 units in 2020, compared to 8,589 units for the S-Class and 6,443 for the BMW 7 Series. Even VW-owned Bentley came close to outselling it, having sold 2,058 units of their cars at a far higher price point.
A new design for Audi’s flagship
The A8’s new look features a bolder wider front grille, with more chrome and more upright side air intakes. The roof is flatter than before. The side detailing emphasizes the car’s length, with a concave rocker panel that seems to point to the road ahead.
Audi will offer the A8 with an optional chrome exterior package and, for the first time in the A8, a new S line exterior package. A black appearance package will also be available.
The new A8 is also being fitted with Digital Matrix LED headlights fitted with approximately 1.3 million micro-mirrors, which allows Audi to precisely control the light they produce and can be tilted up to 5,000 times per second. This makes it ideal for redirecting light as the road changes direction.
In the rear new digital OLED (organic light emitting diode) lights are now standard. Each OLED unit varies in their brightness, allowing designers to change their look fairly easily, with the A8 offering two different rear lighting signatures.
Yes, you can now get your feet massaged
Inside, Audi has designed the cabin to emphasize its width, which is accentuated by ambient lighting. The back seat seat is filled with the usual luxury amenities, including optional fold-out tables, four-zone deluxe automatic air conditioning, and a small refrigerator with a bar compartment.
One new feature is what Audi terms the relaxation seat, which not only offers the usual myriad of adjustments, including seats that offer a back massage with 18 pneumatic cushions, it can warm and massage the bottoms of your feet, according to Audi.
Technology wise, the updated A8 uses MMI navigation plus, which features an LTE-enabled Wi-Fi hotspot and the MIB 3 infotainment interface. Audi says the system will include Audi Connect online service, which will include traffic data, navigation with Google Earth, online radio, hybrid radio, and the Amazon Alexa voice assistant.
Another package will include Car-to-X services that can warn the driver about hazards such as road ice and locate free parking spots or allow them to communicate with traffic lights — although what they have to say remains unknown. In addition, two 10.1-inch HD screens are fitted in the back to keep everyone entertained.
A 1,920-watt, 23-speaker Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System is standard.
What’s under the hood
The engine line-up remains unchanged.
Currently, the Audi A8 is offered in long wheelbase A8 L form, powered by a standard 335-horsepower 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 engine, or an available 3.0-liter plug-in hybrid and a 453-hp 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 engine. The V-8 engine can be found on the S8, which benefits from predictive active suspension, sport differential, and all-wheel steering (optional on other models.). Foreign markets will also have the choice of a diesel engine, and the 6- and 8-cylinder versions are 48-volt mild hybrids, and 8-cylinder models do come with displacement on demand, shutting off four cylinders when they’re not in use.
An 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission is standard, as is Quattro all-wheel drive. A self-locking center differential is standard, a sport differential is optional and standard in the S8. Given the sensitive posteriors of Audi A8 clients, an adaptive air suspension with controlled damping is standard. The S8’s standard predictive active suspension can power each wheel individually using an electric motor to enhance driving precision. Wheel sizes range from 18 to 21 inches. Carbon fiber ceramic brake disks are optional.
A new model for the Chinese market
Audi will offer a model specifically for the Chinese market: the Audi A8 L Horch. Measuring 17.9 ft. long, it’s 5.1 inches longer than the Audi A8 L, with populist interior with the requisite diamond quilted stitching, deep pile carpets and an exterior festooned with a Horch badge, named for the man who founded Audi after leaving the eponymous company he founded previously.