By on September 24, 2018

Audi’s fourth-generation A8 sedan is the pinnacle of the brand’s opulence, so long as you’re willing to ignore every model that begins with the letter R and the forthcoming Q8. Starting at $83,800 before destination, the A8 isn’t cheap. But it does represent a relative bargain compared to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, a model which has long been the poster child for automotive grandeur.

While the A8 is sumptuous affair, the S-Class pulls away the second Daimler tacks on the Maybach prefix and its corresponding price tag. Finding its competitive spirit, Audi is resurrecting the historic Horch name to rival Mercedes’ super-luxury flagship. Available within the next two to three years, the Horch A8 will feature additional creature comforts, palatial touches, and a much higher price tag than the car it’s based upon. 

If you’re unfamiliar with the Horch name, don’t feel ashamed. The moniker hasn’t been attached to an automotive brand since 1932, and the man from which it stems, August Horch, has been dead since 1951. Horch, who began his automotive legacy as a production manager for Karl Benz in 1899, would ultimately set out on his own to set the framework for Audi.

A dispute with his former company, Horch & Cie. Motorwagenwerke AG, resulted in the formation of August Horch Automobilwerke GmbH. However, in 1910, the company was renamed Audi Automobilwerk to avoid any legal issues surrounding use of the name. Regardless, the Horch name was synonymous with extreme luxury prior to World War II — making it a fitting name for Audi to use.

According to Automotive News, the ultra-luxury variant will be limited to high-powered A8s only. While the model comes in a long-wheelbase version, Audi apparently isn’t interested in stretching the Horch. It’s an odd choice, considering Maybach focuses so much on rear passenger comfort. We’d be gobsmacked if Audi didn’t eventually provide at least a couple regional markets (China) with a long-wheelbase variant.

From Automotive News:

The special version will get equipment beyond the regular A8, including different wheels and likely a Horch logo on the flanks or C-pillar. The Horch trim level could be available on a twin-turbocharged W12 version of the A8, if such a model comes to market. The W12 version, while market-ready, is on hold.

Sources also noted that a V8-powered Audi would also be fit to wear the Horch badge, which would help keep costs down a bit. Pricing remains a mystery, however. The Mercedes-Maybach S560 4MATIC Sedan starts at $168,600, which is roughly $80,000 more than the base Mercedes-Benz S450.

Audi will likely try to undercut that premium by quite a bit, though nothing official has been said. Despite the A8’s heaping of standard kit, Audi will have to upsize its engine while adding bling and tech to reach Horch status. Expect an announcement from the automaker within the next year or two.

audi a8 2019

[Images: Audi]

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38 Comments on “Audi Planning Luxurious A8 to Rival Mercedes-Maybach, Resurrection of Horch Name: Report...”


  • avatar
    Sub-600

    If they make another “Transporter” film Frank Martin will have to move up to the Horch if he wants an A8 with the W12.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Damn!! I was hoping they would revive the famous Zschopauer name instead. If I’m going to get screwed paying a lot extra for the privilege of adding a name that no one remembers or cares about, I at least want one that is impossible to pronounce.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      That’a a pretty nice looking sedan. Hey, Honda, THAT is what an Accord should look like!

      Their runner-up choice for the model name was the Horch P2E.

    • 0 avatar
      CincyDavid

      On the subject of pronunciation, is the “ch” at the end like “cheese” or is it a “k” sound? To me, either way it sounds harsh and not the least bit elegant to me.

      • 0 avatar
        Lockstops

        Neither. It’s not a pronunciation used in English.

        https://www.andrew.cmu.edu/user/ujf/blog/German_ch.html
        https://youtu.be/FnFQdLOjiZ4

        • 0 avatar
          CincyDavid

          Lord have mercy, that’s a recipe for disaster…you see how well FoMoCo did with the Merkur nightmare.

        • 0 avatar
          Featherston

          Agreed, for the US market I’d think they’d have to go with some sort of simplified pronunciation, a la Hyundai. Hyundai actually is really dumbed down for the States. It’s not easy (at least for me) to say it exactly like a Korean, but it’s not hard to do a 90% approximation, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0UovyM8Ni0. Oh well.

          – – –

          “The moniker hasn’t been attached to an automotive brand since 1932.” Meh, yes and no:
          – en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horch#Auto_Union
          – en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horch#Horch_models

          – – –

          Favorite Horch factoid: Rommel’s staff car was a Horch. Emphasis on “was”, because the RCAF strafed it.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    When you want a Bentley Continental but you don’t want to be associated with its typical crowd, so you buy an Audi A8 that’s just an Audi A8 but costs more

  • avatar

    Lincoln can do the same trick and come up with Continental as an answer to Horch.

    Cadillac can challenge them with Duesenberg CT6

  • avatar

    Oh forgot about Edsel. It also wants to be resurrected.

  • avatar

    Rise of Dead in other words.

  • avatar
    turbo_awd

    Competitor has a really, REALLY overpriced version of flagship sedan that’s not selling and was nearly canceled several times? Let’s do that! #thisIsMarketing

  • avatar
    redapple

    I m interested in what DW thinks about Audi.
    (I m serious)

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Audi is a brilliantly run division of TAG, that knows precisely who their key demographic is, and how to efficiently, effectively market to them, from their commercials, to the styling of their vehicles, to the dealership experience (salesperson appearance, showroom appearance, aesthetic of the design of the actual dealership building), and in getting a huge % of their customers on a repeat, cyclical lease loop.

      Audi vehicles, in reality, are for the most part, better styled (inside and out) Volkswagens, so the fact that the spread in MSRP between a VW and Audi (driven by badge appeal), is proof of marketing brilliance.

      Subaru is equally effective in knowing who their key demographic is, and how to efficiently, effectively market to them.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        “TAG” above was supposed to read “VAG,” obviously.

        Maybe TTAC will get around to fix editing function by the year 2030.

      • 0 avatar
        Lockstops

        http://s3.amazonaws.com/betches/app/uploads/2018/02/09211551/gavin.gif

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        I think that’s a fair take, DW. Am I correct in thinking that the A3/S3/RS3 is the one model that truly is a VW mechanically, whereas the A4 and up still have longitudinal engines? Like Cadillac in the ’30s-’60s or Lexus, they seem to do a prudent job sharing DNA between brands – saving money but not falling into the Roger Smith trap of blatantly insulting your different brands’ customers.

        In keeping with your comment, Audi clearly did a smart job of “managing” a late uncle of mine. He wasn’t their key demographic in that he was Silent Generation and a buyer rather than a leaser, but he owned five over the course of three decades. (Per his own admission, it really ought to have been four, but he traded in his first 5000 for a nearly identical replacement because he was in the old-school American habit of trading in his car every one-to-three years.) His second A4 (2012ish) is still giving good service to his widow. Belying the German car stereotype, I don’t think he had a serious or expensive problem with any of them. (Disclaimer: My uncle commuted by train, so his cars avoided some tough M-F miles.)

        I’ve never owned either brand, but I’ll say that in the age of overwrought styling, Audi & VW both stand out in a positive way.

        • 0 avatar
          ThomasSchiffer

          My 2007 A4 Avant 2.0 TDI managed an impressive 650,000 km (original clutch replaced at around 320,000 km) without any major issues that would have interfered with the functionality of the car. To date it’s been the best car I have owned, and I kept it for so long because it worked and was relatively cheap to operate.

        • 0 avatar
          hreardon

          The A3/Q3 models are based on the Volkswagen MQB architecture (latitudinally mounted engines).

          The A4 and up are based on the Audi developed MLB architecture for longitudinally mounted engines.

          There are rumors that the next generation A4 will move to MQB, and the next generation A6/A7/A8 will move to Porsche developed architectures.

          Considering the MLB “Evo”platform is in its infancy, we’re a solid 7-8 years before that occurs, though I find it interesting that the A4 received such a minor facelift – if I were a betting man, I would guess that the B9 model is going to be fairly short lived compared to previous generations.

          Audi has done a very good job of carving out a solid brand in the last ten years. Benz has gone a bit avant-garde luxury, Audi is going more Iron Man. BMW, I fear, is losing a clear sense of self.

          I passed on the current generation A3/S3 when it was time to replace my ’06 Sportback. Mainly because while handsome and capable, they were utterly sterile compared to their Golf GTI brother. I’ve yet to drive a new B9 A4, but from all accounts it is an excellent chassis – my problem is that Audi went hyper-conservative on the styling, reminding me of the B6 A4 (a car, that rumor has it, was so bland that Ferdinand Piech ordered a near complete dismissal of the entire Audi design team at the time).

          The new A7 and A6 are far more interesting, inside and out.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Thank you, hreardon.

            Based on what I know, you succinctly and accurately summarized the similarities and differences between VW & Audi.

            I, in addition to professing admiration for Audi highly effective marketing, am also biased towards the exterior and interior styling of Audi vehicles, particularly the A4 and A8.

            Audi has managed to avoid the extraneous and what I consider often offensive and overdone/over-aggressive styling cues that we now associate with Infiniti, Lexus, Acura, and even Mercedes, whereas BMW has had exterior aesthetic that has evolved into many bloated and portly designs (think German Buick).

            Similarly, Audi has a knack for nailing interior design in terms of materials (nice leather and high quality wood combos, along with excellent gauges and center stacks) and ergonomics. They find groove in the balance; nothing’s out of place, and everything’s a great balance in this class/price range.

            As far as mechanical reliability/durability, Audi is similar to many German makes, inasmuch as they are expensive to maintain, overall reliability can seem hit or miss (less important to the outsize % of people who lease vs purchase Audi vehicles given the excellent customer service and loaner program) – I have heard owners brag about Lexus-like reliability, and others curse them relentlessly (I believe that many problems with German vehicles fall into the electrical/electronic arena, or the inability, whether due to lack of proper maintenance and/or just poor engine design, to keep the motor from losing compression prematurely – whether due to carbon build-up and/or overly complicated/sensitive ignition system).

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            DW it seems like the current problem plaguing the Europeans (and a lot of others, namely GM) is premature timing chain wear. Everyone was giddy about saving $1k every 100k miles when the industry shifted en-masse to chain driven valvetrains, but we’re seeing now some very short lifespans on many chains, and very high costs of replacing them and their associated tensioners and guides. On many VAG vehicles, the motors are installed “backwards” with the chain drives up against the firewall.

    • 0 avatar
      SilverCoupe

      DW? I’m a Wanderer if we are going to hear from a DKW!

  • avatar
    Vanillasludge

    Since we’re dragging out obscure German luxury brand names it’s just a matter of time until we get the Ehrhardt-Szawe model BMW.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    Also known as the Straight-to-Uber edition.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    Just what I’d want, a car with a name that sounds like what you do after contracting food poisoning.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    Cue a new Lanchester or Daimler from Jaguar?

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

    Pretty sure Daimler-Benz still puts the Gottlieb Daimler signature sticker on the windshield of US market cars to protect the Daimler name rights in the US, so a Daimler-labeled Jag in the US is highly unlikely.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    The A3/Q3 models are based on the Volkswagen MQB architecture (latitudinally mounted engines).

    The A4 and up are based on the Audi developed MLB architecture for longitudinally mounted engines.

    There are rumors that the next generation A4 will move to MQB, and the next generation A6/A7/A8 will move to Porsche developed architectures.

    Considering the MLB “Evo”platform is in its infancy, we’re a solid 7-8 years before that occurs, though I find it interesting that the A4 received such a minor facelift – if I were a betting man, I would guess that the B9 model is going to be fairly short lived compared to previous generations.

    Audi has done a very good job of carving out a solid brand in the last ten years. Benz has gone a bit avant-garde luxury, Audi is going more Iron Man. BMW, I fear, is losing a clear sense of self.

    I passed on the current generation A3/S3 when it was time to replace my ’06 Sportback. Mainly because while handsome and capable, they were utterly sterile compared to their Golf GTI brother. I’ve yet to drive a new B9 A4, but from all accounts it is an excellent chassis – my problem is that Audi went hyper-conservative on the styling, reminding me of the B6 A4 (a car, that rumor has it, was so bland that Ferdinand Piech ordered a near complete dismissal of the entire Audi design team at the time).

    The new A7 and A6 are far more interesting, inside and out.

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

    Maybe Silvercar by Audi will add these to their rental fleet if they don’t sell. I’m intrigued by their business model and ever-expanding range of models available but I’m so ingrained with just using Alamo Rent A Car that I have never pulled the trigger and used their service.

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