Back in November, Audi took the wraps off its third-generation Audi A8, and then in April the extended-wheelbase Audi A8 L made its debut at the Beijing Motor Show. With the car still not due out until this fall, Audi has released more information for its long-wheel base luxury sedan including the five different engines that will be available and an abundance of high-tech cabin features. The A8 and the A8 L will both compete against top luxury sedans in the segment including the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and the BMW 7 Series.
For its top luxury sedan, Audi stretched the A8's wheelbase by 5.12 inches giving the car an imposing overall length of just over 17 feet. All of the extra length went into making the rear seat a more inviting place for the lucky members of society who don't have to drive themselves around.Â Just likeÂ the standard-length A8, the A8 L has a three-passenger rear bench seat that has aÂ centerÂ section designed to easily fold down to create a first-classÂ atmosphere for the rear passengers with two outboard seats that are eachÂ power adjustable and heated. There are also plenty of rear-seat options available to the A8 including ventilated and massaged seats, a folding table and refrigerator (called a cool box). The Audi A8 L can be equipped with a myriad of cabin technology such as a premium Bang & Olufsen audio system and an integrated WLAN hotspot that allows occupants to easily connect to the Internet.
During last year's debut, the Audi A8 was only confirmed with two engines (a pair of V-8s), but the car will be equipped with a choice of five engines including three gasoline engines and two diesels. The North American A8 is not likely to offer either the 3.0-liter V-6 TDI or the 4.2-liter V-8 TDI, but the current model's 4.2-liter V-8 is likely to be joined by a fuel-efficient 3.0-liter gasoline V-6 as well as the monstrous 6.3-liter W-12.
The base model A8 will use the same supercharged TFSI engine that is used in the new Audi S4, while the V-8 has been updated to offer improved power and fuel economy. This engine is shared with many other Audi models, and it receives a slight bump in power output from 350 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque up to 372 horsepower and 328 lb-ft of torque thanks to direct injection and variable intake valve lift. Despite this increase in power, Audi also claims that the 2011 A8 4.2 FSI will have a 15 percent improvement in fuel consumption compared to the current model although specific EPA figures were not mentioned. Upon launch, the range-topping model will be the Audi A8 L W-12 which produces 500 horsepower, but Audi is also planning to offer a hybrid version that would compete against the Mercedes-Benz S400 BlueHybrid and the BMW ActiveHybrid 7.
To achieve improve fuel economy as well vehicle responsiveness and driving comfort, the Audi A8 will replace the current model's six-speed automatic transmission with an eight-speed automatic. All A8 models will pair up with Audi's quattroÂ® permanent all-wheel drive system which features a 40/60 rear-biased torque split. Despite its big size, the A8 L will feature a relatively low curb weight thanks to the Aluminum Space Frame (ASF) which also contributes to increased vehicle rigidity for improved handling and ride quality.
Pricing for the 2011 Audi A8 or A8 L has yet to be released, but the starting prices are likely to remain very close to the 2010 models; the 2010 Audi A8 has a starting MSRP of $76,000, while the extended 2010 Audi A8 L starts at $79,900.