Hard to believe but it’s already facelift time for the Audi A8. Audi SA launched the car in Mzansi in August 2010 amid tougher promises of a harder push to capture BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class customers. The car has done better than its predecessor, and this upgrade will only serve to improve things even more when it launches in South Africa during the first half of 2014 to face the all-new S-Class and updated Jaguar XJ.
The car is still instantly recognisable as an A8, with somewhat of a serious, regal look. Differences are also noticeable on the front grille where new lines and headlights can be seen, both housed inside a new front bumper. The bonnet is also new, and so is the rear bumper, its LED lights and exhaust tailpipes which now feature a rhomboid shape. Buyers can choose from 12 different exterior paint colours and up to 21-inch alloy wheels.
The interior is obviously not of the same class as an A3 or A4, and so to that end we see niceties like 4-zone climate control which means each of the four passengers potentially have their own air conditioning settings. Fine woods like grain poplar and ash brown can be inserted pretty much wherever the owner likes. Rear passengers can also be indulged with lovelies like DVD players and reclining seats (on the 13cm longer LWB versions) that have a heating/ cooling functionality.
MMI is of course part and parcel of the package. This MMI, which controls virtually all the comforts and infotainment systems within the car, includes a touchpad where inputs can be made in your own handwriting, including Chinese characters. The car can be turned into a WiFi hotspot where devices like smart phones, laptops and tablets can connect wirelessly to the internet. In keeping up with its peers the A8 now features head-up display (HUD) for the first time, as well as active lane assist which makes slight steering adjustments when necessary, and the park assist system with 360° display, which handles steering when parking.
Even more exciting things happen under the bonnet of the new facelift A8, starting with the A8 Hybrid that’s fitted with lithium-ion batteries, an electric motor and 2.0-litre petrol turbo engine. Said Hybrid produces a total system power output of 180kW and 480Nm of torque, and is claimed to average 6.3 litres of fuel consumption per 100km. Then there’s the 3.0-litre TFSI which punches out 228kW, followed by the 3.0-litre TDI making 190kW, a 4.0-litre TFSI with 320kW and the 368kW W12 which keeps its thirsty, and archaic but wonderfully-performing 6.3-litre W12 (two V6s welded together at a 90 degree angle).
Hopefully Audi SA will have the new facelift A8 on display at their stand for the 2013 Johannesburg International Motor Show (JIMS) in Nasrec.