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

Published: 14 June 2016

► Spy pictures of new Audi A8
► Caught at the Nurburgring
► Aluminium tech, hybrid know-how

Here's our best look yet at the new 2017 Audi A8 limousine, caught on test during some hot laps at the Nordschleife in Germany. Yes, the Germans even test their ultimate waftmobiles at the Nurburgring these days.

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 first spy photos capture a late prototype thrashing around a test track covered in camo. However, 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.

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.

Caught at the Nurburgring: the new 2017 Audi A8

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 2016 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. 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 2016, with full sales due to start later in the year or spring 2017.  

It certainly helps when the chairman of the supervisory board is a dedicated engineer on a mission...

The new Audi A8 codenamed D5

By Georg Kacher

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

  • We caught the new Audi A8 at the Nurburgring
  • See the new Audi A8 later in 2016
  • Camouflage hides much of the 'D5' era Audi A8
  • Aluminium-intensive platform will also sire VW Phaeton successor
  • The new Audi A8, codenamed project D5
  • Today's 2014 Audi A8. We're promised a bigger change in wardrobe from A6 to A8 this time
  • Audi's hybrid for the 2015 A8 will use a V6, not a four-pot
  • Aluminium spaceframe (ASF) continues for 2015 Audi A8
  • Expect oodles of rear legroom in new 2015 Audi A8, which will be available in a long-wheelbase version for leggy plutocrats
  • Clever headlamps, like these LED ones, have become an Audi signature