From the first lozenge-shaped A8 that hit American shores in 1997, Audi's flagship sedan has slowly been asserting itself more and more. The current A8 W12 is almost always given credit for its beautiful-yet-subtle design and a glorious interior. American buyers, however, haven't thrown money at it like they do the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S Class. Audi is out to change that with the 2011 A8.
Among the changes, Audi is trumpeting improvements to the car's handling, the area in which it has traditionally lost ground to its European luxo-sedan brethren. The rear-biased quattro system will also be enhanced with Audi's "sport differential" torque-vectoring system, and if other markets clamors for it, Audi will offer the front-drive A8 outside of Europe. Inside, expect a raft of changes to the interior and a "more innovative" MMI system.
As before, the A8 will come in regular and long wheelbase versions, and provide a wide range of engines for world markets, from a 3.0-liter V6 turbodiesel through to the S8's V10. The transmission will be the same 8-speed ZF unit used by the 2009 BMW 7 Series.
All of it will be wrapped in sheetmetal that Audi says will be "stronger, shaper, more precise," a design that will make efforts to highlight the car's aluminum build technology. Said head designer Stefan Sielaff, the car will present "a strong three-dimensional theme," and be "the first of a new styling language at Audi." We can't wait to see it. Thanks for the tip, Other Man!
Audi's new S5 and A5 cabriolets eschew the retractable-hardtop trend in favor of a fabric roof. The new Audi two-doors replace the A4/S4 convertibles and go on sale this spring starting at an estimated $55,000 for the A5 and $65,000 for the V-8–powered S5 ragtop.
The current Audi A8 has been on sale since 2003 and since that time has only received a minor facelift to keep it fresh alongside the Mercedes Benz S-Class, Lexus LS and recently revealed BMW 7-series. The minor styling changes implemented during the recent facelift will have to soldier on for a few more years as the next-generation 'D4' A8 is, according to latest reports, is expected to arrive in the second half of next year, following a debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. A prototype for the car has already been spotted undergoing cold weather testing, hidden beneath the current D3 body.