When Audi calls its refreshed A8 the ‘new generation A8′, don’t be misled.
It may be getting more and more difficult to discern differences from one generation of Audi model to the next, but even non enthusiasts can see that Audi’s latest A8 amounts to a subtle facelift and some extra kit.
That’s not to downplay the importance of all that equipment though – technology appearing on the revised A8 when it makes its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month will eventually filter down through Audi’s range to cars like the A1 and A3.
So what’s new? More power and more efficiency across the range, for a start. From the smallest 3.0-litre TFSI and TDI petrol and diesel units to the enormous 6.3-litre W12 quattro, all engines have been tweaked to save a little fuel and boost speed.
The supercharged 3.0 TFSI climbs 20 PS to 310, the twin-turbo 4.0 TFSI from 420 PS to 435, the 3.0 TDI from 250 to 258 and the 4.2 V8 TDI from 350 to 385 PS. A torque boost to the latter now provides a veritable Everest of shove, at 627 lb-ft.
Economy and performance have increased as a result of the revisions, the most efficient 3.0 TDI now capable of 47.9 mpg and 155 g/km of CO2. That’s an improvement of around 4 mpg and a drop of 14 g/km on the carbon front. Even the W12, a car that drinks like a particularly thirsty whale, has jumped from 23.7 to 24.1 mpg and dropped 7 grams of CO2 for every kilometre thanks to cylinder deactivation technology.
All engines also meet the latest Euro 6 emissions regulations, so they’re cleaner too.
Audi has introduced a few new features on the A8, many of which are sure to be on your humble A3 some time over the next four or five years.
Already a tech-fest with its aluminium body and adaptive headlamps, Audi has introduced new MatrixBeam LED headlights. These use 25 individual LEDs which can be switched on and off (or dimmed) individually, allowing precise control over the beam pattern ahead.
They’re able to provide maximum illumination at night in all situations, selectively dipping as other cars pass to avoid dazzling other drivers. That means maximum brightness can be devoted to all sections of the road at all times, in all conditions. Better still, lighting can react to data from the navigation system – giving you a longer beam on motorways, or a wider one in town, for example.
The light show doesn’t stop there. Audi has given the A8 ‘dynamic indicators’, using a strip of LEDs, arranged into blocks at both front and rear. When indicating, the blocks are illuminated and dimmed in sequence, providing other drivers with even greater clue to your direction of travel.
Naturally, Audi has also taken the opportunity to revise its familiar LED daytime running lights, as well as some new interior finishes to its luxurious cabin and the slightest of tweaks to exterior styling.
Tech has improved further with revisions to the A8’s assistance systems. Lane and parking assist join the range, as does a head-up display. Night vision assistant has been tuned to recognise “larger animals” as well as people. Audi connect wireless internet is now an option with MMI navigation plus, and audiophiles will enjoy the Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System.
Priced from: Not yet announced
Available from: January 2014
Few existing A8 owners will be disappointed in the light facelift, but most should be pleased with the new technology – the LED lighting in particular is a highlight. Improvements to the engines too will be appreciated, and should keep the A8 popular with limousine fleets and the like as the car’s running costs improve.
Whether it will allow the A8 to compete with the new Mercedes-Benz S Class, hitting the UK soon, is a different matter. The Mercedes, an all-new model, looks to have really moved the game on.
For more information, check out our full summary of the Audi A8 alongside reviews, stats, photos and videos.