New Audi A8: facelifted limo introduces Horch spec for China

Published: 02 November 2021

► Refreshed A8 limo adds some new tech
► Mild facelift includes new S Line model
► Audi also brings Horch back from the dead

Audi’s A8 has received the lightest of light facelifts to help keep it fresh. Along with a few visual tweaks and tech additions, the biggest news is the addition of a flagship A8 L Horch model for the Chinese market.

As well as the standard and long-wheelbase A8 versions, the refresh includes the rather excellent, V8-powered S8. Audi says the facelifted A8 range will go on sale in Europe in December 2021.

Horch? That’s an old name…

Indeed, and one Audi’s bringing back as a rival to the flashiest S-Class Maybach models. Audi says it’s strictly for China only, with senior Audi execs saying they don’t see the demand for it elsewhere just yet.

a8 horch front

The A8 L Horch model is 5.1-inches longer than an A8 L, comes with a bespoke set of trimmings on the outside (including a unique grille design, big monobloc wheels and a load of Horch badges) and it debuts in quite a bespoke olive colour. Inside, every seat is diamond quilted, with fat cushions and deep pile carpets.

And for the rest of us lesser captains of industry?

It’s mild tweaks inside and out. The headlights now have digital matrix LED technology that was first pioneered by the e-Tron Sportback (it projects messages and road lane guidance markings to help you out at night) and tweaked digital OLED rear lights.

Audi Digital Matrix LED lights: do they work?

There’s a new S line model with some more sporty details, and the hotter S8 version benefits from these facelift changes, too.

a8 sline rear

Speaking of the S8, its clever Predictive Active Suspension system (which raises the ride height over speed bumps and if you open the door to get in and out, and tilt into corners) can now be specified on the ‘standard’ A8 models.

Audi Predictive Active Suspension: does it work?

Any engine changes?

Not really. There are the usual 282bhp 3.0-litre diesel and 335bhp 3.0-litre petrol V6 options and a 442bhp TFSIe plug-in hybrid model with a 17.9kWh battery pack claiming around 30 miles.

Audi says there’s also an A8 V8 model, though it’s unlikely that it won’t make it to the UK. The S8, meanwhile, still does and still will; 563bhp, 590lb ft and a supercar-baiting 3.9sec 0-62mph sprint time.

s8 front tracking

As for an electric A8? Not gonna happen in this current generation. The GrandSphere concept is designed to preview an all-electric A8 replacement for its next generation, with a production version due from 2023 onwards.

By Jake Groves

CAR's deputy news editor, office Geordie, gamer, lover of hot hatches

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