Rare Rides has featured the predecessor of today’s sedan previously, in a very pearly 1990 V8 Quattro. After Audi spent a few years unsuccessfully trying to sell its first-ever attempt at a flagship full-size sedan, it took the lessons learned from the D1 and developed the D2 A8 and S8.
Last December, we reported that a team piloting a 2015 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG obliterated the standing Cannonball record between New York City and Los Angeles. In March, we also noted that traffic density has declined immensely as a result of the viral pandemic currently gripping the nation — with those two cities seeing larger declines than the already low national averages. You can probably guess where this is going.
Rumors are circulating that a 2019 Audi A8 was prepped to capitalize on the moment, setting a new Cannonball benchmark while (almost) no one was watching. According to Road & Track, a team of at least three equipped a white sedan with auxiliary fuel tanks and set out from NYC’s Red Ball Garage on the night of April 4th. They arrived at the Redondo Beach finish line less than 27 hours later — beating the old record with time to spare.
It’s the end of an era. Earlier this year, Mercedes-Benz announced the death of the SLC (formerly SLK) roadster, and today Audi announced it will do the same to its own two-seat roadster and four-place coupe.
The TT first appeared in late 1998, bringing youthful excitement and distinctive design to the brand’s sedan-heavy lineup. It also served as an excellent rival to the SLK, which bowed a couple of years earlier. Thanks to dwindling sales and Audi’s push for electrification, the recently refreshed TT is now doomed.
It’s not the only gas-powered model that could disappear from the lineup, either.
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.
The luxury segment has a softball-sized bug up its butt right now. Sport utility vehicles and crossovers have proven to be exceptionally lucrative as consumer interest in sedans tapers off. Weirdly, building variants that are more like cars has also become increasingly popular — especially in the luxury segment.
BMW launched the X6 as the sporting alternative to the X5 way back in 2008. Rival luxury brands quickly took notice. Mercedes-Benz now has the GLE and GLC Coupe while Audi recently showcased the Q8 as a non-car alternative to the Q7.
It’s a strange group. Purchasing one means sacrificing a lot of the practicality of an SUV or crossover to get something with dynamics and styling approaching that of a sedan. It also means you didn’t think to just buy a sedan or station wagon. Are these automobiles bridging a necessary gap in the market or are they a passing fad for those of us with questionable taste in cars and more money than sense?
The answer really doesn’t matter, as they’re currently selling well enough to rationalize their existence — and there’s another contender is about to be added to the mix. Starting in 2019, Porsche will append a “Cayenne Coupé” to its automotive portfolio.
Audi recently announced pricing for the V6-equipped A8, arriving in dealerships this fall for the rock-bottom price of $83,800. Alright, so that’s not exactly chump change, but Audi promised tech that would embarrass practically everything else on the road — including the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
In some markets, it seems as if the brand will deliver on those promises. The sedan is practically dripping with technology, including the impressive-sounding Traffic Jam Pilot. The system offers a claimed hands-free experience at speeds below 37 mph, as the vehicle can crawl in heavy traffic without the need of a driver. You’ll still need to turn it off and take over in urban environments but, so long as it’s a relatively straight shot, the car will do all the work.
Unfortunately, Audi seemed to have axed its availability for the United States.
Audi will continue offering a big W12 engine as an option on the 2019 A8, but it also confirmed the current generation will serve as the motor’s swan song. Afterward, none of its models will boast 12 cylinders, at least for the foreseeable future.
While the matter is less pertinent for North America, as the largest powerplant currently available for the sedan stateside is the 4.0-liter TFSI, it’s always sad to see downsizing. But it doesn’t make much sense for Audi to stick with the Bentley Bentayga-sourced 6.0-liter W12 when it isn’t a big money maker for the brand.
Prospects don’t look particularly good for Audi’s V10, either. As the brand presses deeper into electrification, engine size will take a backseat to kilowatt hours and hybridization. In fact, the R8 already has a twin-turbocharged V6 in the works. That motor could end up be a replacement, rather than an option.
Today we have a dual-function Question of the Day. The primary function will be informative; detailing an upcoming new series here at TTAC and explaining how it all works. The secondary function is to solicit ideas from you, our dear readers, for said new series.
By now you’re undoubtedly intrigued, so keep on reading.
Audi is recalling around 5,000 European A8s after discovering they were releasing excessive nitrogen oxide emissions. The vehicles in question appear to be holdovers from Volkswagen Group’s dieselgate, even though no one has said so officially. But the modus operandi seems to fit here.
It’s the same NOx gas that got VW into trouble back in 2015, it involves the vehicle’s software, and Audi went out of its way to report the cars to Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority before saying it was concerned about the “possible illegal manipulation of emission levels.”
My Dodge Dart awareness is not what it should be. I’m not fully up to speed on the Dodge Darts of yore. Despite my parents’ ownership of a Dart, the 1960-1976 period was not an era in which I was a sentient being.
As for the newer Alfa Romeo Giulietta-based Darts, I’m not fully on board with America’s rejection of the car. By the end of its second full year, nearly 200,000 Dodge Darts had been sold. Sales increased yet again in 2015. But without factory support, real demand was rather limited. Only 43,402 Darts were sold in the United States in 2016, the year Dart production came to a premature end.
Man, I loved that car. Oh, I don’t mean the way it drove, and certainly not the way it shifted. I’m not talking about interior packaging or its engine lineup or its interior quality. Whatever. Pfft. Who cares. I just genuinely liked the way it looked: the proudly Dodge front end, those completely wheel-filled arches, and especially that distinctive rear end.
I’m therefore pleased to see Audi resurrecting that look for the fourth-generation 2018 Audi A8, the brand’s flagship sedan.
For years, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class represented all the cutting-edge automotive wizardly you could hope to see trickle down into plebeian cars. That honor now belongs to the Audi A8. While Mercedes recently revamped the S-Class to better compete with Audi, the A8 is back with a vengeance — proclaiming itself, once again, to be the future of automobiles.
Now that “luxury car” really means “technology buffet,” Audi has adorned the 2019 A8 with the very best it can offer, hoping to find its way back into the premium vehicle market’s good graces.
There’s a bit of an automotive renaissance occurring just below the radar. While pure electrics and plug-in hybrids garner endless headlines, several luxury brands are sneaking more mild hybrid arrangements under their vehicles’ hoods via a 48-volt electrical system.
Audi is a firm believer in the technology and is making moves to implement the system in numerous vehicles in its lineup, starting with the fourth-generation A8 arriving later this year. Combining regenerative braking with a small lithium battery and belt-driven alternator, the system harnesses wasted energy and is a more affordable way to tap into the benefits of hybridization. So affordable, automakers are using the KERS-like system on models as standard equipment, not a optional extra.
In this regard, Audi’s A8 is no different. The next generations of the A6 and A7 will also use the technology.
After pumping out a respectable range of luxury sedans, coupes and SUVs for years, Audi now finds itself scrambling to counter an onslaught of high-end boutique models from Mercedes-Benz.
In recent years, Mercedes stretched its S-Class six ways to Sunday, yielding ultra-lux models like the Mercedes-Maybach S600 and Pullman, as well as a full-size convertible. In contrast, Audi doesn’t have any half-block-long versions to offer — just its A8 and slightly stretched (by five or so inches) A8L.
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