Audi Resurrects Historical Horch Nameplate, Creates New Luxurious Rare Ride

audi resurrects historical horch nameplate creates new luxurious rare ride

Audi recently announced a new, super luxurious version of its largest sedan, and it’ll wear some branding not seen in a very long time. Wake up Horch, it’s 2022.

Horch was founded in 1904 as a luxury car manufacturer in Germany, by one August Horch. It manufactured only luxury cars and was the first to put eight-cylinder engines into mass production in 1923. The brand was independent only through 1932, at which time it merged with Audi, Wanderer, and DKW to form the Auto Union. Shortly thereafter, Horch became the vehicle of choice for Nazi forces in Germany. The company was effectively closed by the conclusion of WWII, as post-war Germans had no money for large eight-cylinder Horch automobiles.

There was a singular Fifties Horch model, the P240 of 1955 through 1958. The small sedan was produced by VEB Sachsenring, the East German manufacturer better known for the decidedly non-luxurious Trabant. Sachsenring became an auto manufacturer after WWII, located in Saxony right where Horch cars were produced. At the time the region was a part of Soviet-occupied Germany. Horch factories turned out the P240 until Horch and Audi were legally reconsolidated 1958. VEB Sachsenring became HQM Sachsenring and continued to produce the P240 for a few more years under its own brand.

Later as a dormant marque, the Horch name fell into the possession of Daimler-Benz. In 1964 Auto Union was purchased by Volkswagen AG, and since it was the only name available Audi returned as the company’s luxury offering. Horch remained separated from its Auto Union brethren until the middle of the Eighties when Daimler handed over rights to Audi. In return, Audi signed a waiver stating it would not call any of its race cars Silver Arrow.

Fast forward to the present day, and Audi has no competition for that most luxurious of Mercedes-Benz trims, Maybach. Audi plans to fix that with the introduction of the new 2022 A8 L Horch at the Guangzhou Auto Show on November 19th. As the grantor of the Horch name to Audi, I’m sure the irony is not lost on Mercedes here. The new high-lux A8 coincides with a 2022 facelift, and is applied only to the long-wheelbase A8 L. L adds five inches to the standard sedan’s wheelbase and expands rear passenger area, as it has done for many years. The Horch adds another five inches to the wheelbase, which is mirrored in overall length (213.5″).

Notable features of the Horch not found on the standard A8 L include (most importantly) prominent Horch badging on the body. A unique set of 20-inch wheels also wears the Horch logo and calls back to the “full” alloy look of the A8 W12 of two decades ago. All the new badging is set off by a unique grille design, standard LED lamps and OLED tail lamps, and a special shade of green reserved solely for the Horch.

Inside are the finest materials Audi has available, with more Horch badges scattered here and there, and diamond pattern perforation across the high-quality hides. Said seating comes with a standard eight-way massage at the front, and two luxurious thrones in the rear. Also standard is the most expensive Bang & Olufsen 3-D stereo system.

At this time the Horch is limited in its scope to the Chinese market, where long-wheelbase sedans are still seen as a status symbol. But China is a market that applies a heavy tax to any engines over three liters in displacement. Accordingly, Audi has restrained its engine offering: The Horch uses a turbocharged 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 and adds a 48-volt mild hybrid system to the party for a total of 340 horsepower.

If all goes well for the Horch, Audi is open to an offering in the European market. While some sources indicate such a car outside China might offer a W12 engine, there is not presently an engine of 12 cylinders on offer in the A8; Audi ended its W12 production in 2017. Given the EU is consistently more unfriendly to displacement and carbon dioxides by the day, don’t hold your breath on the return of a W12. Meantime, enjoy some forbidden Germanic fruit.

[Images: Audi]

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  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Nov 02, 2021

    "don’t hold your breath on the return of a W12" Audi is working furiously on a new W4. (Quad-turbo?)

    • See 2 previous
    • Slavuta Slavuta on Nov 05, 2021

      @ToolGuy you can always go to web archive and see how looked in 1998

  • Socrates77 Socrates77 on Nov 02, 2021

    This should've been the first electric full size luxury car, Audi just missed the boat.

  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • FreedMike It's not that consumers wouldn't want this tech in theory - I think they would. Honestly, the idea of a car that can take over the truly tedious driving stuff that drives me bonkers - like sitting in traffic - appeals to me. But there's no way I'd put my property and my life in the hands of tech that's clearly not ready for prime time, and neither would the majority of other drivers. If they want this tech to sell, they need to get it right.
  • TitaniumZ Of course they are starting to "sour" on the idea. That's what happens when cars start to drive better than people. Humanpilots mostly suck and make bad decisions.
  • Inside Looking Out Why not buy Bronco and call it Defender? Who will notice?