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Frankfurt show: Audi updates A8 limo

Limo beast: Audi Australia will bring the S8 from early 2014 - all 380kW of it.

Facelifted Audi A8 surfaces, Australia in line for 380kW S8 flagship from early 2014


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21 Aug 2013

AUDI has given its flagship A8 limo a mid-life upgrade to counter Mercedes and its all-new S-Class. The range will hit Australia in the second quarter of 2014, headlined by the potent S8.

Chief among the changes are more powerful and efficient petrol and diesel engines, extra active safety technology and optional new LED headlights.

Most of the fundamentals stay the same. The car still weighs as little as 1830kg – featherweight for this class – thanks to its 231kg aluminium bodyshell. The outline remains familiar, but Audi has tweaked the grille, front bumper and bonnet design.

The new headlights are called Matrix LEDs. High-beam comprises 25 individual diodes per unit that can be dimmed individually, and the units can curve around corners and – by syncing with the navigation system – use predictive data to alter light distribution for the road ahead.

A familiar quartet of petrol or diesel engines remain, although all have been fettled. Audi Australia currently offers an all-diesel line-up, and – with the exception of the generation-first petrol S8 – this will continue with the facelift.

The 3.0 TDI six-cylinder diesel, which previously made 184kW and 550Nm now produces 190kW (torque isn’t listed) but consumes only 5.9 litres per 100km/h, down 10 per cent. The larger 4.2 TDI V8 jumps from 258kW and 800Nm to an even more gargantuan 283kW/850Nm.

The quattro all-wheel-drive S8 sports a 4.0 TFSI V8 engine with 380kW sent to all four wheels via an eight-speed conventional automatic transmission. A sports differential on the rear axle distributes torque where it’s most needed, improving road-holding.

Audi says fuel consumption is kept to a low 10.1 litres per 100km thanks to efficiency technology such as cylinder de-activation. When the car is running on four cylinders, ‘antiphase’ noise similar to what’s used on noise-cancelling headphones is piped through the cabin.

Overseas markets will get a 228kW 3.0 TFSI six-cylinder and a twin-turbo, 320kW 4.0 TFSI that can dispatch the zero to 100km/h dash in 4.5 seconds, only three-tenths slower than the S8.

A petrol-electric hybrid that combines a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine and a small electric motor and lithium-ion battery to produce 180kW and 480Nm but consume 6.3 litres per 100km was earmarked for Australia at one stage, but has now been put on the backburner.

All versions get Audi Drive Select, which changes the tune of the air suspension with adaptive damping. Electric steering weight adjustment is an option only.

In terms of new safety technology, Audi has given the adaptive cruise control an expanded pre-crash autonomous braking system, added active lane assist that adjusts steering to keep between the white lines, given the park assist system a 360-degree display, fitted a new heads-up display and tweaked the night vision assistant to recognise road-going animals as well as people in the murky night.

Interior specification again includes the works – rear seat screen with Bluetooth headphones, an MMI central touchpad control, massaging seats and a power-assisted door closing funcion to name a few – and retain its “hand-built” character. New leather colours and wood trim highlights feature.

Australian pricing currently kicks off at $188,000 for the 3.0 TDI and climbs to $238,000 for the regular 4.2 TDI. LWB versions of both retail for $199,900 and $248,700 respectively. We wouldn’t bet on any major changes to this, and would predict an S8 pricetag somewhere between $250k and $300k.

Audi has sold 36 A8s in Australia this year so far, down 29.4 per cent and fewer than all key rivals including the BMW 7 Series (75), the S-Class (62), Porsche Panamera (57), Lexus LS (53) and Jaguar XJ (40).

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