By Jennifer Geiger on January 9, 2014
Competes with: BMW 7 Series, Jaguar XJ and Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
Looks like: Audi's flagship gets a slight makeover
Drivetrain: 333-hp, supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine; 240-hp, turbo-diesel 3.0-liter V-6; 435-hp, twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 with cylinder- deactivation technology; 500-hp, 6.3-liter 12-cylinder; 520-hp, twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 engine (S8); all pair with an eight-speed automatic transmission
Hits dealerships: Summer 2014
Audi's already luxurious and stylish flagship sedan is getting a makeover for 2015 with a horsepower bump and updated front- and rear-end styling. Both the regular 2015 Audi A8 and its performance-oriented S8 sibling make their debuts at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
The A8 was redesigned for 2011 and the 2015 update only improves on its dynamic look. The stunning LED headlights return to the A8's face, with a slightly tweaked design for the new year. The hood also wears a slightly freshened look with more creases, and the front and rear bumpers have been enlarged for a wider look.
Specific S8 model updates include larger air intakes in the lower front bumper and less chrome trim than the regular version for a "sportier look," Audi said in a statement. In back, the taillights wear a slightly modified design, and there's a new oval-shaped quad sport exhaust tailpipe. Both models get a new selection of 20-inch wheels and a choice of five additional exterior paint colors.
The A8's cabin design and finishes carry over to 2015, but Audi says the new models use "significant acoustic measures for a quieter cabin" as well as "optimized trunk packaging for improved space and usability." The updated S8 model sees some cabin additions, however, with a new trim choice: Vermont Brown leather seats and surfaces paired with carbon twill copper inlays.
In terms of features and controls, Audi's MMI navigation plus system will again be available, including the Google Earth mapping and Google Voice search functionalities. The Audi connect system is also available. It provides real- time localized weather, news and live fuel prices as well as in-vehicle Wi-Fi connectivity for up to eight wireless devices.
For 2015, the turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 gets a horsepower bump from 420 to 435. The TDI version that joined the A8 roster carries over to the 2015 model and is again joined by the entry-level 3.0-liter and range-topping 6.3-liter W-12 model; the latter gets Audi's Cylinder on Demand cylinder-deactivation system for 2015. For the S8, the 520-hp, twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 engine returns. An eight-speed automatic is again the sole transmission.
As far as other changes under the hood, Audi says that a new electromechanical power-steering system should provide "greater comfort and agility, while improving fuel efficiency." Official fuel-economy figures have not yet been released, however.
Loads of new available safety equipment join the A8 and S8 features lists this year. Highlights include active lane assist, Secondary Collision Assist, Night Vision Assistant with Pedestrian Detection, a head-up display and Audi Park Assist.
Assistant Managing Editor Jennifer Geiger is a reviewer, car-seat technician and mom of three. She wears a lot of hats, many of them while driving a minivan. Email Jennifer