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New Audi A8 update unveiled with more tech and fresh styling

An all-new Audi A8 replacement has already been previewed in the shape of the Grandsphere concept, however the German brand has now updated its current luxury saloon with revised infotainment and styling. 

As before, the Mercedes S-Class rival is available in both standard and long-wheelbase versions, and there’s an updated performance-focused S8 model sitting at the top of the line-up.

The updated car will be available to order in Europe from December, but Audi is yet to confirm whether UK models will go on sale at the same point. In its home market of Germany, the saloon has a starting price of €99,500 (around £84,000).

Styling revisions for the facelifted A8 are fairly restrained. Audi’s biggest change is a new radiator grille, which is larger than the unit fitted to the old car. However, there’s also a slightly tweaked front bumper, new side skirts and a new lower valance at the rear.

The LED headlights are another new design feature, and they can be upgraded to Audi’s new Digital Matrix LED units as an optional extra. The light units contain 1.3 million micromirrors, which the brand says can adjust the beam pattern with millimetric precision to help illuminate dark patches in the road and improve the driver’s visibility.

They’re fitted with the usual cornering and adaptive high-beam functions, but the system can also emit a concentrated beam between the white lines on the road to help the driver better position the car in its lane. 

The new headlights are backed-up by revised tail-lights, which have a built-in proximity that means if a car drives too close to the rear of the A8 when it’s stationary, all of the rear lights will activate to warn the driver of the following car to back away.

As before, the infotainment system consists of two displays – a 10.1-inch screen for the car’s media functions and an 8.6-inch unit that’s just for the climate controls. The 12.3-inch digital dash is retained, although the system running all three is now based on new software.

Rear-seat passengers benefit from more tech, too. Audi now offers a pair of new 10.1-inch screens as an optional extra, which can be linked to the occupants’ smartphones to receive content from video and audio streaming services.

Other options include a 23-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system, four-zone climate control, massaging seats and a refrigerator. There’s also a heated and massaging footrest, which is fitted to the rear of the front passenger seat in the extended wheelbase Audi A8 L.

S line trim adds a sporty body kit similar to the S8 flagship without the thirsty V8 engine. There’s another new radiator grille for this trim level, along with model-specific bumpers and lower side skirts.

The S line tweaks aren’t just limited to the exterior, though. Inside. There are S line sports seats, a sports steering wheel and some piano black trim for the dashboard, although this latter feature can be swapped for carbon fibre as an optional extra.

New Audi A8: engines and drivetrains

Buyers have a choice of five powertrains – one diesel, three petrols and a plug-in hybrid system. All conventional combustion (non-PHEV) engines in the A8 line-up are boosted by a 48-volt mild-hybrid system. Also, every model comes with Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system and an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

The diesel is Audi’s familiar 3.0-litre V6 unit, which produces 282bhp and 600Nm of torque for a 0-62mph time of 5.9 seconds and a top speed of 155mph.

The cheaper petrol found in the A8 55 TFSI offers 335bhp and 500Nm of torque from its 3.0-litre turbo V6, with the 0-62mph time dropping to 5.6 seconds. Top speed remains the same at 155mph.

Audi also offers a 4.0-litre V8 engine in two states of tune. In the A8 60 TFSI, it generates 454bhp and 660Nm of torque, while the flagship S8 model has 563bhp and 800Nm of torque. The former version has a 0-62mph time of 4.4 seconds, while the S8 can dispatch the same sprint in 3.8 seconds.

To help deploy this extra performance the S8 also gets a sport differential, bigger brakes and all-wheel steering, as well as some sporty cosmetic tweaks to set it apart from its peers. Audi’s predictive active suspension system is also included as standard, which can counteract body roll through the corners.

The powertrain in the plug-in hybrid A8 60 TFSI e is based on the same 3.0-litre V6 as the A8 55 TFSI, but it’s supported by an electric motor that boosts the powertrain’s output to 456bhp and 700Nm of torque – enough to push the saloon from 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds.

The electric motor is fed by a new 17.9kWh battery pack, larger than the 14.1kWh unit fitted to the previous model. Audi is yet to confirm how much of an impact the new battery pack has on the A8’s electric-only range, but we expect it’ll offer more zero-emissions range than its predecessor’s 29 miles. 

Click here to read about the Audi concept that will eventually morph into the replacement for the A8 – the pure-electric Grandsphere… 

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