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Audi A8 (2017): everything you need to know about the limo codenamed ‘D5’

Published: 27 December 2016

► Spy pictures of new Audi A8
► Caught on winter test in Sweden
► Aluminium tech, hybrid know-how

Here's our best look yet at the new 2017 Audi A8 limousine, caught on test during cold-weather testing in Sweden ahead of a planned debut expected at the Germans' home show in Frankfurt in the autumn.

Although still heavily disguised, it's possible to see the sharp-edged detailing and body surfacing of Ingolstadt's new aluminium-bodied flagship limousine.

The wintry scene is in stark contrast to our earlier scoops catching hot laps at the Nordschleife in Germany (below). Yes, the Germans even test their ultimate waftmobiles at the Nurburgring these days...

Caught at the Nurburgring: the new 2017 Audi A8

With something of the rakish look of the Audi Prologue concept car about it, the new A8 aims to propel Audi back to the top of the luxury car segment, as it battles newer competition in the face of the evergreen Mercedes S-class, BMW 7-series and - arguably - crossovers from all corners of the premium sector.

Audi A8 (2016): what to expect from Project D5

These latset spy photos capture a late prototype undergoing cold-weather testing covered in camo, where its standard-fit Quattro all-wheel drive will no doubt have come in handy.

CAR has tracked the gestation of the top-end Audi - and compiled an inside dossier revealing the car's progress through development. Those who regularly attend product strategy committee meetings claim that the Audi's creative director, design chief Mark Lichte, has blended British elegance with Italian sportiness and German solidity.

A procession of Audi A8s in winter testing in Sweden

Strip away the disguise, and insiders tell CAR the next A8 will allegedly be a much more progressive car with a smaller singleframe grille, a nicely tapered rear end, a more coupe-like greenhouse and sculptured, almost architectural proportions.

Six proposals made it to the finals: two by Fabrizio Giugiaro (who since left ItalDesign together with Alberto Fumagalli), one by Wolfgang Egger, one by Stefan Sielaff (when he headed up the VW group advanced design studio in Potsdam) and one by Audi's Mark Lichte and his talented sidekick Philipp Roemers.

Sielaff’s car received an honorable mention in the corridors of power at Ingolstadt, but predictably the board put Lichte in charge of the new 2017 Audi A8, codenamed D5. Not to be confused with a woofling, Volvo in-house diesel engine of yore…

Aluminium construction and engine details: all about the 2017 Audi A8

Project D5 is going to break new ground in more ways than one. It adds more modular construction to the Audi spaceframe (ASF) and fuses the architecture with the group's MLB Evo platform.

Audi A8: the new 2017 one

This brings fresh content (three levels of autonomous driving, advanced infotainment), refocuses on driving dynamics (on-demand torque vectoring, re-engineered air suspension, next-generation Drive Select), and lets Audi reinvent MMI. The multi-media control system is due to feature a large TFT display, more intuitive ergonomics, voice and gesture control - just like arch rival BMW's 7-series.

Low-friction lightweight quattro all-wheel drive and the eight-speed automatic are standard on all new Audi A8 models. As far hybrids go, the new A8 abandons the breathless four-cylinder in favour of a plug-in application featuring the 326bhp 3.0-litre TFSI V6. Other petrol engines include:

  • Audi A8 4.0-litre V8 TFSI 460bhp
  • Audi A8 6.3-litre W12 565bhp

Diesels in the new 2016 Audi A8 are expected to include:

  • Audi A8 3.0-litre V6 TDI 272bhp
  • Audi A8 4.0-litre V8 TDI 408bhp
  • Audi A8 5.0-litre V10 TDI 500bhp

We expect to see the new saloon in autumn 2017, with full sales due to start later in the year.  

The new Audi A8 codenamed D5

By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel