Longer and Safer, With Another Engine Tweak
Judging by the refreshed 2015 Audi A8, the folks at Ingolstadt are obsessed with what’s under the hood of their large flagship. Audi has made countless revisions to the current-gen A8’s engine lineup, so it’s no surprise that the updated sedan will arrive with a more powerful V-8. And no, it will not come from the automaker’s RS division. (Besides, wasn’t the S8 enough?) Instead, the mid-range, 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 gets a few more horses to help set it further apart from the available six-cylinder mills.
But aside from the V-8’s slight power bump, a new LED lighting system, and more safety tech, the 2015 A8 is modestly updated.
The 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 entered the lineup in model year 2013, providing a healthy 420 hp and 444 lb-ft of torque. The updated version gets 9 more horses (new torque figures weren’t available), so we don’t expect a drastic change in the 4.2-second 0-60 mph time we achieved in a 2013 Audi A8 L 4.0. The base model’s 333-hp, 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 will carry over, as will the diesel-powered A8 L TDI and its 3.0-liter turbodiesel making 240 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. Audi still has no plans to bring the hybrid-powered A8 to the States, which means the diesel, which is EPA rated at 36 mpg highway, remains the only eco-friendly version for America. Audi says all engines are slightly more efficient thanks to “friction-reducing measures” that shave consumption by up to 10 percent.
The extreme end of the powertrain spectrum is still occupied by two 500-plus-hp beasts. First is the range-topping, 12-cylinder, 500-hp A8 L W12. The other is the lightning-quick S8 and its twin-turbo 4.0-liter eight-cylinder that will still be advertised at 520 hp and 481 lb-ft. With the S8’s 0-60 mph time of 3.5 seconds, Audi’s flagship remains one of the quickest cars we’ve ever tested.
The cabin is still one of the most luxurious we’ve sat in. The interior design hasn’t changed, but the A8 still coddles passengers with a dizzying array of luxury packages and options, including an Executive Rear Seat Comfort Package that includes a cooler box and a passenger-side rear-seat footrest. Among the new interior finishes offered for the 2015 Audi A8 are silver-hued wood accents and leather surfaces.
Passengers riding in the A8 L long-wheelbase model should enjoy more room, too, thanks to an increase in dimensions. The wheelbase and overall length are both stretched by 5.1 inches to 128 and 212.1 inches, respectively. Audi didn’t provide new interior dimensions, but the current A8 L provides an already generous 42.9 inches of rear legroom. The standard-wheelbase A8 will continue with the same dimensions.
Exterior updates are minimal, but there’s just enough to differentiate the 2015. Out back, a new chrome stripe connects the taillights, which have been narrowed. The exhaust pipes are restyled for all models except the S8, which retains its signature quad-tip design. The sides are essentially untouched, but the front sports a number of changes, including a new lower bumper design and thinner headlight housings.
Speaking of which, the A8 features Audi’s first application of its Matrix LED lighting system, an optional item that constantly adjusts illumination intensity and direction. Each headlamp unit contains 25 LEDs and is controlled by an intelligent cornering light system. The system will also make adjustments based on route information gathered from the navigation unit.
In addition to the advanced lighting system, the 2015 A8 gains a new active lane system that will make steering adjustments. The night-vision system has been updated to recognize large animals in addition to pedestrians. And parking assistance joins the lineup. Finally, customers can also opt for a new head-up display that projects essential data on the windshield.
Sales of the A8 have been up this year compared to 2012 and the updated model should help the flagship continue that trend. The 2015 Audi A8 is scheduled to arrive in German showrooms this November, so expect it in American showrooms some time next year.