Another mid-life facelift? What's so exciting about that?
More than you'd think, actually. Audi hasn't just tweaked the front bumper, added a couple of new colours then sent it to a photo studio (although it has done those things). It's also - wait for it - dropped a brand new engine into the inconspicuous executive's motor of choice. As you may notice from the pictures, the A8 has undergone very minor cosmetic surgery inside and out, highlights including a new grille, a fresh design of alloy and new door mirrors with integrated indicators. However, you won't see the main changes, you'll feel them.
Don't tell me, they've made it greener, right?
Er, right. But unlike Lexus's of-the-moment hybrid LS600h, the boffins at Ingolstadt have opted for good old fashioned weight and power reduction to make their flagship limo more environmentally sound. A 2.8 V6 FSI petrol motor has been introduced to make progress cleaner and more economical, so if diesel's not the oil in your lamp but you still crave the tax and conscience breaks of a low CO2 motor, this might be the solution to your big saloon woes.
Ok, so it's more economical, but won't it be a bit slow?
Well, it's no rocket, but don't forget that the A8 is made of lightweight aluminium, so it's lighter than your average big saloon at just under 1.7 tonnes. Strap an Arial Atom to the top of it and it'll still weigh less than the LS600h, and it'll give you a better return at the pumps, too. This new entry-level A8 averages 34mpg, a figure more akin to a diesel. And it's cleaner too, with only 199g/km of CO2. The 210bhp engine pushes the big A8 to 62mph in eight seconds flat, but the chances are you won't have bought this to shred tyres; its 207lb ft of torque should be ample to pull you around town in an effortless waft.
What other changes have been made to the Audi A8?
Improved adaptive air suspension has been fitted across the range, all the better to smoothe out the most minute of bumps, and the soundproofing has been optimised to cut interior noise, especially road rumble. There's also a new side warning system that will make the steering wheel vibrate if you drift into the path of another car on the motorway. Minor changes have also been made under the skin; a sharper steering set-up and revised damper settings are claimed to improve responses on the twisties. All in all, a neat facelift for one of our favourite luxury cars. We'll know if it works when we drive it later this summer.