May 18, 2022

350lachine

Automotive pure lust

2022 Audi A8/S8 Gets Eleventh-Hour Tweaks

The Audi A8 and its S8 sibling are entering their final stage with a facelift of the fourth-generation model, internally called B5. Basically, Audi went through the motions of a mid-cycle facelift with changes as minor as they can be. The big news, literally, is the massive front grille, proving wrong everyone who (understandably) thought it wasn’t possible to graft a bigger front opening onto a luxury sedan than Audi had managed pre-facelift.

Clearly designed to humble the bloated kidneys of BMW’s 7-series and the oversized spindle on the Lexus LS, the elevated snout of the new A8 has no functional advantages, so it’s purely a matter of taste. The same goes for the relatively minor changes in the rear, where the taillights are now visually broken up by a new segmentation of the LED units. The A8 now comes standard with the S line package, and the S8 is differentiated by its specific grille texture, four visible tailpipes, and aluminum-trimmed side mirrors.

The real news for this final A8 is the advent of a Horch version, designed to take on the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class. It comes with a number of unique luxury features and a slightly stretched wheelbase, but it will be sold in China only.

We got a chance to sample the German-market A8 60 TFSI and the S8 in their homeland. In the United States, however, the A8 will be sold exclusively as the A8 L 55 TFSI powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 with 335 horsepower and 369 pound-feet rather than the 60 TFSI’s 453-hp 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-8. In either market, the S8 gets a higher-output version of that V-8 with 563 horsepower and 590 pound-feet.

The A8 is a pleasant, quiet, and fast autobahn cruiser, but it can play along when you want to hustle on twisty roads as well. The air suspension stiffens, the steering becomes slightly firmer, and the limits of adhesion prove to be high enough that you can dice with VW GTIs all day. The A8 cockpit is virtually unchanged from the pre-facelift version, which is no bad thing. And, unlike before, you can now select a futuristic bar-graph instrumentation that was previously only available in the S8.

Stepping from the A8 into the S8 is a most pleasant upgrade. The V-8’s pleasant growl leaves no doubt as to the nature of the powerplant lurking behind that behemoth of a grille, and its performance is impressive whether driving at around-town speeds or at autobahn velocities that North American owners are unlikely to experience on a regular basis. The S8’s chassis features a sport-tuned version of the A8’s adaptive suspension, a Sport rear differential, and all-wheel steering. This is a very comfortable car with high performance limits but is still more luxury car than sports car. It’s a far cry from the ultra-precise and stiff RS6 Avant and RS7 models, which can tangle with supercars.

One model that falls by the wayside in the U.S. is the V-6 plug-in hybrid. Sales of the portly hybrid were so abysmal that Audi dropped it from the order menu in North America. We won’t miss the plug-in hybrid, but the torquey and efficient diesel, which still accounts for about half of the A8’s sales in Europe, is another story. A W-12 biturbo was also in the works but was killed off at the last minute because, according to Audi, “it doesn’t fit the times.”

We might soon be lamenting the end of the gasoline engine in the A8 as well. The successor of this model, previewed by the 2021 Audi Grandsphere concept, will be a fully electric luxury sedan. The A8 as we know it—designed by Ferdinand Piëch to take on the top BMW and Mercedes-Benz offerings and once the sportiest luxury sedan of them all—will be no more. That’s probably why Audi has kept the changes to the current model to a minimum. The A8 now falls behind the Mercedes-Benz S-class in key areas and stands potentially to be overshadowed by the upcoming new BMW 7-series as well. Brand loyalists get their last chance to purchase a gasoline-powered luxury sedan, but the brand is now executing its U-turn toward fully electric mobility. While its chrome-filled mouth is bigger than ever, the Audi A8 has never spoken more softly.

Specifications

Specifications

2022 Audi A8/S8

Vehicle Type: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan

PRICE

A8, $87,595; S8, $118,995

ENGINES

turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve 3.0-liter V-6, 335 hp, 369 lb-ft; twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 32-valve 4.0-liter V-8, 563 hp, 590 lb-ft

TRANSMISSION

8-speed automatic

DIMENSIONS

Wheelbase: 123.1 in

Length: 209.4 in

Width: 76.6 in

Height: 58.6 in

Passenger Volume: 111 ft3

Trunk Volume: 18 ft3

Curb Weight (C/D est): 5000–5250 lb

PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)

60 mph: 3.2–5.2 sec

100 mph: 8.1–13.5 sec

1/4-Mile: 11.6–13.8 sec

Top Speed: 128–155 mph

EPA FUEL ECONOMY

Combined/City/Highway: 17–22/14–19/23–28 mpg

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