The current Audi A8 has been on sale since 2003 and since that time has only received a minor facelift to keep it fresh alongside the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Lexus LS and even the all-new BMW 7-series. The minor styling changes implemented during that facelift will have to soldier on for a few more months as the next-generation ‘D4’ A8 isn’t expected to arrive until 2010.
A prototype for the car has already been spotted undergoing cold weather testing, hidden beneath the current D3 body – but here we have the real machine undergoing heat-tests in southern Europe.
Under the new sheet metal will be an extended version of the modular platform used in the A4, but expect to see more exotic materials such as aluminium and magnesium employed to help save weight and improve dynamics.
The engine lineup will likely mirror the current range, starting with a 2.8-litre petrol V6 and topping out 4.2-litre V8 FSI and possibly the manufacturer’s new 6.0-litre V12 TDI.
There will also be more supercharged units as well as increased application of Audi’s latest valve-lift system. The 6.0-litre W12 engine is reportedly being phased out due to its high costs and emissions.
The base model will remain FWD but AWD variants will feature the latest quattro torque vectoring systems, which distribute drive individually between each axle and between the rear wheels for improved traction and stability.