In the wake of an all-new Mercedes S-class, the facelifted Audi A8 will be shown at Frankfurt motor show as the luxury saloon celebrates its twentieth birthday. The A8’s body has been given a nip and tuck, with more power and improved fuel efficiency, too, as it battles the new S-class and the BMW 7-series.
>> Click here for CAR's A-Z guide to the 2013 Frankfurt motor show
How is it different to the current A8?
It’s all in the visuals: the A8’s overall dimensions are identical to the outgoing model (this is only a facelift) meaning it’s still more than 5m long with a 2.9m wheelbase for the standard version. The A8 L has a 13cm longer wheelbase so that backseat passengers can really stretch out, but all come with a more striking exterior to keep up with fresher rivals.
The A8’s body sees changes to the bonnet, single-frame grille and front bumper backed-up by sharper, more angular edges along the bottom of the headlights. While the standard headlights come with 18 LEDs, optional ‘Matrixbeam’ LEDs are now available, which comprise of 25 LEDs that can be dimmed or turned off completely so as not to dazzle oncoming traffic. This still means that the A8 loses the bling battle with the S-class, which has up to 56 LEDs in its headlights, but the Audi now comes with intelligent cornering lighting and a ‘dynamic’ turn signals to show off instead.
Around the back, the dual trapezoidal exhausts and tail lights have been flattened for a sharper look on all models apart from the sporting flagship, the S8, but every version has a smart chrome strip that links up the rear LEDs. The A8 now rolls on wheels up to 21in, too, with carbon ceramic brakes optional on the V8 and W12 models.
Can it match the S-class for technology?
The A8 can’t brag as loudly about its technological arsenal, but it’s not lacking the odd showpiece with a host of new technological add-ons available. While it won’t change lanes on its own like the Mercedes, the A8 comes with Audi active lane assist, which it claims makes ‘slight steering adjustments when necessary’, while there’s also a 360-degree auto-parking system, a new head-up instrument display and upgraded ‘night vision assistant’ that now recognises large animals as well as pedestrians.
The WLAN that made its debut on the current car – part of Audi connect, which hooks the A8 up to the Internet –remains an option, while buyers can choose from more colours, textures and materials both in and out to decorate their new limo. There’s four-zone automatic air-conditioning and electronically adjustable, individual rear seats as well to ensure Sir or Madam is comfortable.
What about beneath the skin?
The A8’s range of seven engines has been honed to boost power and cut emissions. The petrol engines all have more power, with the 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 up from 286bhp to 306bhp and the twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 now with 429bhp (a 15bhp jump) – giving it a 0-62mph time of 4.5sec. The S8 is the fastest and most potent, though, with its 4.2sec time, but the regal W12 makes its pitch with 493bhp from its 6.3-litres. Not so keen on petrol stations? Try the 2.0-litre hybrid with its 44.8mpg, or one of the diesels – the 254bhp 3.0-litre or the 4.2-litre with 380bhp and a monster 627lb ft of torque. All A8s, apart from the front-wheel drive hybrid, now come with an eight-speed automatic and quattro all-wheel drive.
How much will it cost and when can I get one?
You can expect to see the new Audi A8 arriving in UK showrooms at the beginning of next year, with prices expected to start from around £55K.