While the BMW 7 Series is getting ready for the next generation due in 2022, Audi updated today its A8 fullsize luxury sedan. The archrival from Ingolstadt is attacking the Bavarian flagship on all fronts by continuing to offer both standard- and long-wheelbase configurations, plus an even longer Horch opulent version exclusively for the Chinese market. In addition, the performance-oriented S8 remains part of the lineup.
All four flavors of the Audi A8 feature reshaped digital matrix LED headlights with fresh graphics in keeping with the latest premium products carrying the Four Rings. As if the front end wasn’t imposing enough, the singleframe grille is now slightly wider than before. At the back, fancy OLED taillights are part of the standard equipment and can even be had with two selectable light signatures, plus a third option for the hotter S8 model.
Audi is diversifying the lineup by introducing a first-ever S Line exterior package for the A8 versions, bringing a slightly more aggressive design derived from the S8 model. It’s the equivalent of an M Sport package, allowing customers to get the dynamic look without paying the premium that comes with stepping up to the performance version.
A multitude of fresh metallic and matte paint finishes are available for Audi’s range-topping vehicle, along with more generous use of chrome for old-fashioned people who still associate the shiny appearance with a premium design. Reserved for the top-spec S8, the quad exhaust tips are an Audi Sport signature feature reserved for the S-badged models positioned right below the full-fat RS with their dual oval tips.
The most important novelty brought by the mid-cycle refresh is the aforementioned Horch, with a name that harkens back to one of the four companies that merged into Auto Union, which itself evolved to become Audi AG. Due to be sold only in the People’s Republic, the A8 L Horch stretches at a stately 17.9 feet (5.45 meters) long, thus making it 5.1 inches (13 centimeters) longer than the A8 L.
BMW currently isn’t offering an extra-long 7 Series to combat Audi’s Horch and Maybach’s S-Class, so it will be interesting to see whether it will respond to these models with the G70 scheduled to be unveiled in 2022. The sumptuous A8 L Horch stands out thanks to its hand-applied two-tone paints, a few retro badges, bespoke wheels, distinct grille with vertical bars, and a bigger panoramic roof.
The facelifted A8 still looks just about the same on the inside as Audi has basically carried over the interior from the outgoing model. However, the Horch ups the luxury ante with more diamond quilting, deep-pile floor mats, and “Horch” logo embossed in the cushions. Naturally, being even longer than the A8 L, it offers all the rear legroom you could ever want.
The fully digital Audi Virtual Cockpit sits in front of the driver and can be complemented by an optional head-up display and even a night vision system. The center console is dominated by a pair of touchscreens, measuring 10.1 inches and 8.6 inches, while the rear seats can get their own dual 10.1-inch displays.
Depending on the market, Audi will sell the 2022 A8 with V6 gasoline and diesel engines along with a more potent V8 available in different states of tune. All send power to the standard Quattro system via an eight-speed automatic transmission and come with mild-hybrid tech, with a plug-in hybrid powertrain to follow shortly. The crown jewel is the twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 inside the more potent S8 where it pumps out 563 hp and 590 lb-ft (800 Nm), enough for a 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) sprint in 3.8 seconds.
Much like BMW has retired the 6.6-liter, twin-turbo V12 engine of the M760i, Audi is also bidding adieu to the 6.0-liter W12. Those willing to pay extra for a twelve-cylinder engine will have to step up to a Rolls-Royce or a Bentley, respectively. Alternatively, the Maybach S-Class still offers a V12, now with AWD for the first time.
Audi plans to put the A8 facelift on sale across Europe from December, with pricing starting at €99,500 for the base standard-wheelbase model whereas the more athletic S8 will retail from €144,800.