Audi Planning Luxurious A8 to Rival Mercedes-Maybach, Resurrection of Horch Name: Report

audi planning luxurious a8 to rival mercedes maybach resurrection of horch name

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.

[Images: Audi]

Join the conversation
2 of 38 comments
  • Hreardon Hreardon on Sep 25, 2018

    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.

  • CincyDavid CincyDavid on Sep 26, 2018

    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.

  • MaintenanceCosts The sweet spot of this generation isn't made anymore: the SRT 392. The Scat Pack is more or less filling the same space but it lacks a lot of the goodies, including SRT suspension, brakes, and seats. The Hellcat is too much and isn't available with a manual anymore.
  • Arthur Dailey I am normally a fan of Exner's designs but by this time the front end on the Stutz like most of the rest of the vehicle is a laughable monstrosity of gauche. The interior finishes suit the rest of the vehicle. Corey please put this series out of its misery. This is one vehicle manufacturer best left on the scrap heap of history.
  • Art Vandelay I always thought what my Challenger really needed was a convertible top to make it heavier and make visability worse.
  • Dlc65688410 Please stop, we can't take anymore of this. Think about doing something on the Spanish Pegaso.
  • MaintenanceCosts A few bits of context largely missing from this article:(1) For complicated historical reasons, the feds already end up paying much of the cost of buying new transit buses of all types. It is easier legally and politically to put capital funds than operating funds into the federal budget, so the model that has developed in most US agencies is that operational costs are raised from a combination of local taxes and fares while the feds pick up much of the agencies' capital needs. So this is not really new spending but a new direction for spending that's been going on for a long time.(2) Current electric buses are range-challenged. Depending on type of service they can realistically do 100-150 miles on a charge. That's just fine for commuter service where the buses typically do one or two trips in the morning, park through the midday, and do one or two trips in the evening. It doesn't work well for all-day service. Instead of having one bus that can stay out from early in the morning until late at night (with a driver change or two) you need to bring the bus back to the garage once or twice during the day. That means you need quite a few more buses and also increases operating costs. Many agencies are saying for political reasons that they are going to go electric in this replacement cycle but the more realistic outcome is that half the buses can go electric while the other half need one more replacement cycle for battery density to improve. Once the buses can go 300 miles in all weather they will be fine for the vast majority of service.(3) With all that said, the transition to electric will be very good. Moving from straight diesel to hybrid already cut down substantially on emissions, but even reduced diesel emissions cause real public health damage in city settings. Transitioning both these buses and much of the urban truck fleet to electric will have measurable and meaningful impacts on public health.