Cold Weather Test Mule: Next Generation Audi A8
Although the R8 is capturing a good deal of Audi-related press right now and the big S6 and S8 sedans also do a good job of representing Audis top end, the A8 remains the everyday flagship for the company. As such Audi is busy developing its next generation A8 expected to debut in 2009.
The A8 was the first to receive Audis corporate grille re-styling, sporting the single-frame grille way back in 2003 on the A8 L 6.0 quattro, and later on throughout the model line-up.
While the vehicle has received many rave reviews for comfort and styling, perhaps the one weak spot has remained mediocre handling and steering feel. This is one area which will be addressed head on in the D4 A8 with a 40/60 percent front/rear torque split, better distribution of weight and Audis MLP (Modular Longitudinal Platform) which it will share with the A4, A5, Q5 and A6.
From a powerplant perspective the horsepower wars will continue. Expect to see the V12 TDI engine which recently debuted in the Q7 V12 TDI make its way to the A8 lineup, as well as new gasoline variants.
Spy photographers in Scandinavia have been busy snapping photos of the next generation Audi A8 test mule during cold winter testing there. Notice the considerably wider fenders and slightly longer body.
The D4 A8 will undoubtedly raise the bar yet again, however it will face ongoing competition from BMWs 7-series which is also set for a 2009 redesign. The long awaited four-door Porsche Panamera could also eat into A8 marketing share should it become available on the market by 2009.