Luxury Cars: On the eve of the 2009 L.A. Auto Show, Audi is across the continent at the "Art of Progress" exhibition in Miami, with Lucy Liu presenting the new 2011 Audi A8. Our own Marty Padgett is on hand to bring us the latest, updating live from the floor of the event in the widget below.
The 2011 Audi A8 will come in two flavors, the shorter of which--dubbed "Normal Wheel Base (NWB)"--was unveiled tonight. The long wheelbase will be revealed next year.
Targeting the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7-Series, the Audi A8 envisions itself as a level above the Jaguar XJ and Lexus LS, due in part to its positioning as a "driver's car". The NWB version of the 2011 A8 will focus on sport driving behavior, while the LWB--long wheelbase--version will emphasize comfort and prestige while balancing sportiness.
A standard eight-speed tiptronic transmission sends power to the front or all four wheels depending on the trim, with that power provided by a pair of V-8 engines and another pair of V-6 engines--one each gasoline and diesel. It's not yet clear that the diesel engines announced at the global launch will be coming to the U.S. immediately, or at all. The gasoline 4.2-liter FSI V-8 engine rates 372 horsepower, and rockets the big sedan to 62 mph in just 5.7 seconds. Top speed is digitally limited to 155 mph.
All four engines are being touted as examples of efficiency, with high compression (12.5:1 in the V-8 FSI), variable cams, low internal friction, and special oil pumps getting the credit.
Drag is low at just 0.26 coefficient of drag, roughly equivalent to that of the Toyota Prius--quite a feat for a large luxury sedan.
Audi plans to sell at least 6,000 units of the new A8 annually, topping the figures of the previous model. That reflects Audi's target customer for the A8: the typical buyer will have a median income of about $500,000 annually, aged around 58 years old.
Growing almost two inches in wheelbase over the previous standard wheelbase A8. At 117.8 inches, the D4 2011 A8 is about 3 inches shorter in wheelbase than the new 7-Series and about 7 inches shorter than the long wheelbase-only U.S. Mercedes S-Class. Still, it's an inch longer in wheelbase than the Lexus LS and on par with all of the above in overall length and height, while being a full two inches wider than most at 76.7 inches, potentially foreboding a tight fit in the average parking space.
While Audi hasn't yet released final figures on the 2011 A8's weight, Audi does claim the car is 50 pounds lighter than the S-Class RWD and 200 pounds lighter than the AWD version; and 200-400 pounds lighter than the new BMW 7-Series RWD and AWD versions.
By Nelson Ireson