Audi to Go After S Klasse and 7 Series More Directly With Next A8
Bloomberg is reporting that Audi will reveal the next A8 sedan at the upcoming Frankfurt auto show in September and that Ingolstadt’s flagship will more get upgrades so it can more effectively compete with the next generation S Class from Mercedes-Benz, which is currently being launched.
While Mercedes-Benz may be the target of the new A8, it is BMW that Audi has set its overall sights upon, seeking to supplant the Bavarian luxury car maker as the #1 marque in that segment. Audi says that it will sell more than 1.5 million vehicles globally in 2013, a benchmark the company originally expected to reach two years from now.
Though Audi has seemingly gone from strength to strength and is in second place among luxury brands, it’s still lagging behind M-B and BMW at the top of the luxury sedan segment, selling 38,600 A8s last year while BMW sold over 59,000 7-Series cars and Mercedes sold a bit over 80,000 of its S Class.
A 7 is imposing; an S-Class looks like no other MB sedan on the road. The A8 looks like a bloated A6 that's been left out in the sun too long.
Pointed the A8 out to wife. By chance (north Jersey) it was immediately followed by an XJ. She said had trouble getting over how sad the Audi looked in comparison. I agree. The A7 looks more the Audi flagship. Should not be the case.
The current A8 looks too much like the last car, both outside and in. The interior is fine, but IMO nothing spectacular. Audi's days of dominating Munich and Stuttgart on interior design and quality are long over. Go back and look at the interiors of Audi's groundbreaking cars like the '96 B5 A4 and '98 C5 A6. Then look at the interiors of then competing BMWs and M-Bs. Audi blew them out of the water. Now look at them. The B8 A4 is no nicer inside than a C-class or BMW 3. I would argue that it's worse with its black plastic center stack and cheap switchgear. The new A6 interior is worse than the 5 series, and no better than the 2014 update E-class, arguably worse. The 7 series basically has the same interior as the 5 series, but the new S-class is far better than the A8. The largest contrast though is with the A7, CLS, and BMW 6 GC. The BMW and Benz both have gorgeous interiors that are bespoke to those models. The A7 is 99% the same as the A6. The AWD thing doesn't really apply anymore, if you want AWD on your Mercedes or BMW they are happy to sell that to you. So the reason to buy an Audi has to come down to style and design. They've been failing on the style front, every new car that comes out is just a subtle tweak on the last one with slightly different headlights. Try to tell the new A3 apart from the old A3. They've also been failing in design. The lower center console in the A6 around the cup holder is dirt cheap, rock hard plastic, and of course the A7 has the same thing. You will not find that in the 5 series and E class, and certainly not in the CLS and 6 series. Look at Audi's door panels going all the way up to the S7. They are all bland, featureless expanses without an ounce of real design, and everything you touch is either hard plastic or vinyl. Audi needs to get their act together, and so does Quattro. The reviews of every new RS car have been one disappointment after the next.
It must be difficult/impossible to be a luxury car designer. Some markets wants the new model to look almost like the old model, and other markets wants it to look completely new. Some markets wants brand recognition in all models, and other markets wants the top end car to look nothing like lesser models. Some wants the new model to look imposing while other wants beautiful lines etc. The big 3 has solved some of the problems by having more luxury models like the addition of 4 door coupes.